How To Control Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu is a highly invasive robust variety of grass.  It’s great for use in areas of high traffic or heavy use as it is very tough and damage-resistant but it can be a real nuisance if it begins to invade your couch grass lawn.  Controlling it is challenging, but it can be done.

How Kikuyu Grass Spreads

Kikuyu is more aggressive in nature than any other variety of grass and this is why it can take over your lawn completely if not controlled.  It spreads by both seeding and putting out runners, or rhizomes, in a network hidden beneath the soil, so what you can see in your lawn is merely the tip of the kikuyu iceberg.

Trying to pull kikuyu out is totally ineffective.  Removing visible surface growth merely prompts the rhizomes to send up fresh foliage to the surface.  Even digging whole areas out and replacing the soil is not guaranteed to work because there will probably still be runners underneath paths and borders that surround the lawn just waiting to reinvade as soon as you reseed your grass.

Many varieties of kikuyu produce seeds that spread readily via the wind and bird droppings so even if your land is clear of the stuff, you could still find yourself infested with it if your neighbor has it in his garden.

Selective Control

Whilst it’s almost impossible to eradicate kikuyu grass altogether, you can certainly suppress it so that it’s not so visible on the surface of your lawn.  The following herbicides are effective and won’t harm other popular varieties of couch grass like Santa Ana.  However, they are not suitable for use if your lawn contains bluegrass, buffalo, rye, or tall fescue as they will damage these grasses.

Monument Liquid by Syngenta: This is one of few chemical treatments that are actually registered specifically for the removal of kikuyu grass.  It’s a commercial herbicide which means that you would need a licensed sprayer to apply it for you.  Ask your local landscape contractor for advice.  

Paspalum or Paskill:  These products can be bought in hardware stores and garden centers. They burn back kikuyu where it appears on the surface of the lawn without harming the couch.  An additional benefit is that they will also kill unwanted plants like crab grass, paspalum, and other broad leaf weeds.

The best time to apply these treatments is during the warmer months when kikuyu is most active.  This means better absorption of the chemical by the kikuyu and consequently more effective results.  Remember that kikuyu is extremely aggressive and repeated applications of these treatments will be necessary to keep it at bay.

Non-selective Control

If your lawn contains grasses that might be unsuitable for selective control treatments, you could choose to spot spray patches of kikuyu with glyphosate, or Roundup, instead, although you must be careful with this as it will kill all types of lawn grass.  Apply very carefully to the kikuyu only and carry out the treatment during the winter time when the surrounding lawn is dormant and less likely to be damaged.

In Conclusion

Kikuyu grass is great if you want a lawn that’s hard-wearing and will withstand heavy traffic.  It is also drought-resistant and ideal if you live near the coast as it will tolerate exposed locations and salty air.  If properly cared for, kikuyu also looks good. 

However, kikuyu is extremely vigorous and invasive, and can spread into your flower beds and borders as well as your lawn.  If you’d prefer to keep your garden clear of kikuyu, follow the tips given above or have a chat to your local landscape contractor for advice.


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Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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