A warm-season staple of Australian backyards, as well as sports fields, pastures, public areas and golf course fairways, Kikuyu is an excellent choice of grass to handle Australian conditions.
Many Australians grew up with Kikuyu, as it’s one of the few grasses that can be grown almost anywhere in the country. While technically classed as a warm-season grass, because of its hardiness, you can get it growing almost anywhere from Far North Queensland down to frosty Tasmania (to varying degrees of success).
It’s tough, cheap and quick growing, meaning that it’s as popular today as it has ever been. So if you’ve chosen Kikuyu as your lawn of choice, how do you go about getting it looking its best?
Here are just a few maintenance tips to keep your Kikuyu going strong.
Kikuyu is a fairly drought resistant lawn, but to have it performing at its peak, watering may be in order.
If you are just in the process of sowing your Kikuyu seed, it’s important to ensure the soil stays moist while the grass takes hold. An otherwise aggressive grower, Kikuyu can take longer than you might expect to germinate. Up to three weeks can go by before fine blades start worming their way out of the soil. All the while, you want your ground to remain moist. This may mean watering 2-3 times per day.
By giving the Kikuyu these perfect, moist conditions, you’ll assist it in establishing a solid root system which helps it survive drier periods later. After germination, this watering can be slowly scaled back, until your lawn is fully established. At that point your watering will be governed by the time of year that you find yourself in.
In the heat of summer, you may need to water your Kikuyu every 7-10 days (even more often if you have a sandy or easily drained soil). In winter, this can often be scaled back to no watering at all. Check your grass for signs that it needs watering – if you see a slight browning or wilting of the blade tips, you should give the lawn a drink.
Remember a couple of rules when watering:
A thorough yet infrequent soak will promote deep root growth and a more drought resistant lawn
Early morning is the best time to water
Over-watering can lead to root rot and disease, as well as excessive growth
If there’s one thing Kikuyu is good at, it’s growing and spreading. It is possibly the most aggressive-spreading grass available in Australia, so you’ll have to be on your toes to reign it in.
To keep it tidy, your Kikuyu lawn will likely need a weekly mow in the warmer summer months, when its peak growth period occurs. In colder months this may stretch out to a month or month and a half.
Kikuyu isn’t a huge fan of shade, which can affect the ideal cutting height, as you don’t want to take so much blade off that it can’t capitalise on whatever light it receives. As such, while Kikuyu in full sun will happily be cut to 2-5cm, shaded Kikuyu will do better if cut to 5-7cm. If possible, adjust your mower when in shaded parts of your backyard.
You’ll probably also need to get the brush cutter out every couple of weekends to ensure its runners don’t creep where they’re not wanted. Ensuring your garden beds are well fenced is also a wise move, as Kikuyu has a habit of getting where it shouldn’t.
While it will most likely grow happily without it, ideally, you’ll feed your Kikuyu with a slow release fertiliser twice a year. Aim for once at the start of autumn, and once at the start of spring.
If your Kikuyu lawn is looking a little forlorn and needs a quick perk-up, a high-nitrogen fertiliser may give it the kick-start it needs.
Kikuyu is an excellently hardy turf, and as such requires little maintenance to survive. But if you want yours to not just survive,but thrive, you’ll want to put a little extra effort in to make it happy.
If you have any other Kikuyu queries, contact the friendly seed specialists at McKays.