Home » Understanding Kikuyu Grass: Types, Characteristics, and Usage

Understanding Kikuyu Grass: Types, Characteristics, and Usage

by Richardmathew
Kikuyu grass

Kikuyu grass was named after the Kikuyu people that reside in the highland regions of East Africa, the region the grass is native to. It was previously given the scientific name Pennisetum clandestinum, which was then changed to Cenchrus clandestinus. It is a popular tropical grass that is used for landscaping across the world, including in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Its ability to survive droughts and its low maintenance are two reasons Kikuyu grass is as popular as it is. You can purchase it from seed suppliers for both residential and commercial purposes.

Kenda Kikuyu

Kikuyu turf grass does not have wide varieties to choose from. The most common of its types is the “Kenda.” Kenda Kikuyu is admired and sought after for its high tolerance to drought and wear, higher than other types of Kikuyu grass.  For this reason, Kenda Kikuyu is used commercially for golf courses, race courses, and the like.

Its tolerance comes from its rhizomes which are present in four times the number that is usually present. In addition to the rhizomes, they also possess vigorous stolons. Due to this, Kenda grass is able to recover any damage it sustains much more quickly. This is what gives it its high wear tolerance as well. Additionally, it is tolerant of diseases, making it one of the toughest types of Kikuyu grass.

 Apart from this, there are two main varieties of this grass: Zulu Kikuyu and village green Kikuyu.

Characteristics of Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass is considered warm-season grass and grows best in climates that are hotter in summer and mild in winter. It has a deep root system that firmly anchors the grass. It is this quality that allows Kikuyu grass to survive. The only time the grass needs a high level of water is before seeding and while the seedlings are germinating. The ground should be made wet (but not soaked) before planting.

Furthermore, for healthy germination, seedlings require regular watering. After growth, the Kikuyu grass can last through periods of drought very well without drying, making it ideal for areas that experience droughts. When the grass is fully grown, watering once a week suffices. Owing to its durable nature, Kikuyu grass does not get too damaged in droughts or in floods.

Compared to other types of grass, Kikuyu grass stays closer to the ground no matter how much it grows. Physically, the grass remains a lush green all year-round, and the stem and leaves of the grass are covered in fine hairs. Kikuyu grass grows at an impressive pace. So much so that in some regions, it is considered a noxious weed. Despite this, it remains a popular choice for landscaping as it can be very easy to grow. When cared for and properly maintained, it grows into soft, bright green grass that is very durable.

One of the biggest perks of Kikuyu grass is that it is slow to respond negatively to the seasons. This means it takes longer to become less green in the fall and turns green much quicker in the spring. Another huge benefit of Kikuyu grass compared to other types of grass is that it does not cause people’s allergies to act up. This is due to the fact that Kikuyu grass has trouble producing seeds and does not produce many seed heads. Due to the lack of seeds, it also does not produce pollen. This can be a serious concern with other types of grass, such as Bermuda grass.

This type of grass thrives in sunny conditions. In shade or prolonged cloudy conditions, their color can dull, and the grass can even become patchy and slowly start dying. When planted in areas that receive a sufficient amount of light and areas that are protected, it can stay green even in winters. Usually, other types of grass need to be combined in order to stay green, but this hassle is avoided with Kikuyu grass.

 If you’re wondering how to identify Kikuyu grass, then here are some features to look for in the grass.

  • Leaves should be folded in the bud
  • The tip of the leaves should be pointed
  • Leaf blades should be slightly flat

Kikuyu grass does not grow for longer than 150 millimeters. Usually, it can grow up to 70 to 150 millimeters.

How Kikuyu Grass is Used

One use of this grass is for pasture for livestock. Another major use of Kikuyu grass is in the landscaping of sports fields. As expected, wear and tear in sports fields makes any grass need a higher maintenance level to keep its fresh and lush appearance. Since Kikuyu grass has a great recovery rate in addition to its durable nature, it is ideal for use in sports fields such as golf courses and even cemeteries. In addition to that, the grass planted along roads is usually Kikuyu grass because of its sustainability.

If you’re looking for landscaping in large and low-maintenance turf areas, you can’t go wrong with this type of grass. For those that are looking for the type of grass that does not require constant maintenance, this is the grass for you. This is one of the most economical choices for grass that can be used in landscaping.

Seed companies in the USA recommend this grass for golf courses and other landscaping projects that depend on durability. To learn more about Kikuyu grass, its characteristics, and its uses, please contact us!

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