Kikuyu grass Pennisetum clandestinum is a very fast growing lawn grass that is common in Kenya. A native grass in Kenya, it has been introduced to many countries in the world.
How does Kikuyu grass look like
This type of grass has dark green leaves that have a blunt apex. The leaves are broad and fold inwards at the midrib. In cold areas, Kikuyu grass forms a dense sod. In warm areas, it hardly forms a dense sod
This grass has an enhanced lateral growth in cold areas. It spreads by stolons which root as they radiate from the main bunch. The grass also forms dense rhizomes below the ground. The variety available in Kenya is male sterile and is therefore propagated vegetatively. Male sterility means that it does not produce pollen. The lack of pollen is an important attribute where allergies are a concern. Lawn grasses that produce seed heads and pollen ought to be mowed frequently to prevent allergies and unsightly seed heads.
In the cold areas, Kikuyu grass has good shade tolerance. In areas with warm middle and low altitude, the grass has very poor shade tolerance. It should therefore be grown in full sun.
Ability to out-compete weeds
A well growing stand of Kikuyu grass will effectively smother out weeds. This is commonly seen in the high altitude areas of Limuru, Lari, Nyandarua, Kericho and the Mount Kenya region. In the low altitude areas, its ability to out-compete weeds is severely diminished. This is because in the warm areas, the grass grows vertically rather than laterally. This allows gaps on which weeds thrive.
Drought and heat tolerance
Kikuyu grass has medium tolerance to heat and drought. Irrigation is therefore advised in hot and dry areas. Fertilize your lawn properly and allow it to grow densely for it to withstand episodes of drought.
Kikuyu grass requires frequent mowing. For sports, this could be as frequent as twice a week. The frequency of mowing increases in the rainy season. Mow your grass lawn frequently to encourage lateral and dense growth. As much as possible do not remove more than one third of the grass height.
Where should Kikuyu grass be grown
Kikuyu grass can be grown for a wide variety of uses. It is mostly suitable in utilities such as road sides, railway line shoulders, public parks and general uses where aesthetics is not a major consideration. This type of grass is also used in golf fairways.
Kikuyu grass has excellent cold tolerance. It will grow very well in the very cold regions of East Africa such as Lari, Limuru, Aberdare region, Nyandarua, Kericho, Mau, Iten and the Mount Kenya regions. In these areas, many tropical varieties of grass perform poorly.
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