How do you get rid of Kikuyu growing in your lawn?

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 27 November 2018 

If there is one thing to be said about kikuyu, it would be that it is HIGHLY INVASIVE. That can be a good thing and a bad thing although if you have it invading your lawn, its clearly a bad thing!

So if you have it in your grass and you don’t want it, the question is can you get rid of it? The answer to that question is yes, and no….

Kikuyu is more aggressive in nature than any other lawn so it’s potential to take over is high. It spreads by both runners and by seed. There isn’t a variety of lawn available in Australia that can successfully compete with it so if you find it showing up in your lawn uninvited, eventually it can completely take over. Kikuyu has an underground network of runners called rhizomes which spread out where they can’t be seen. That means that what you can see on the top is generally the tip of the iceberg. Hand pulling it out is no more successful at getting rid of it than trying to kill a daisy bush by picking the flowers off it. What you leave behind is the rhizomes which send up some more growth to the surface. Even if you dig the area completely out and replace the soil, there will probably still be runners under pathways and in garden beds that surround your lawn area ready to re-invade at the soonest opportunity. Then there is the seed – many kikuyu varieties produce a seed which blows around looking for a place to grow so even if you get rid of the seed and runners at your place, theres nothing to say it wont blow in from a neighbor or from bird droppings.

Sounds pretty bleak doesn’t it! The way I see it is that you have a choice – If you have kikuyu invading your lawn, either let take over learn to manage it (when maintained, kikuyu looks really good and has some great advantages) or take measures to control it. This usually involves chemical sprays, both selective and non selective.

Selective Control:

There are some selective herbicides that you can use to suppress kikuyu but only in couch. That means you can spray them all over the couch and they will just target the kikuyu not the couch. The reality is that you will probably never get rid of it because it will most likely re-invade from its original source but you can certainly suppress it which means you wont see so much of it on the surface. The most notable chemical for the suppression of Kikuyu in Couch is Monument Liquid by Syngenta. Its one of the only chemicals registered for this purpose. It is a commercial group B herbicide so if your thinking about using it you’ll need to get a licensed sprayer to apply it for you. Other options for suppression of kikuyu in couch include selective herbicides that contain DSMA and MCPA. These are available off the shelf in hardware stores and usually have names like Paspalum killer or Paskill etc. Although not noted on the bottle for the control of kikuyu, they will burn back kikuyu on the surface without harming the couch. They also selectively control weeds like paspalum, crab grass and broad leaf weeds. Once again, read the instructions and directions before applying. Because of Kikuyu’s aggressive nature, you will need to repeat applications of these chemicals as required to keep the kikuyu in check. The best time to spray is during the warmer months when the kikuyu is active and able to draw in the chemical

Non Selective Control:

If you have kikuyu invading your buffalo, tall fescue, rye or bluegrass lawn then you can't use the selective herbicides mentioned above because they will harm your lawn. The only solution here is to spot spray with glyphossate (eg Roundup) Keep in mind though that glyphossate is non selective meaning it kills all types of lawns. You have to be careful to only apply it to the kikuyu, not the lawn you are trying to preserve. The best time to spot spray is winter. The reason for this is because the damage to surrounding lawn will be minimised.

I hope this helps – feel free to leave comments on your success stories and tips on controlling kikuyu in your lawn.


Comments (14)

How to kill the Kikuyu lawn?

By: on 30 January 2019
Hi, I have a lawn that I think is Kikuyu - it sends long runners into my garden beds and "hunts" for water, I've been struggling doing the edging and battling this grass for a long time now. Wondering if you know how I can completely destroy this grass - is it by thoroughly spraying it with gluphosate and when is it best to do? How long do I have to wait before I can put new grass in and can it be by seeding? Thanks so much.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Lana It sounds like you have quite an established kikuyu lawn. When it gets to this stage where there are runners in the garden, its almost impossible to kill. Most of the kikuyu plant is under the soil, out of reach of glyphossate. Even if you decide to physically remove it, if you leave the smallest piece of runner, root system or seed in the soil, it will re-invade. The best advice I can give you is to learn how to tolerate this grass. It can be a really nice lawn. Stay tuned - in the next few weeks, I'll write a blog on how to maintain kikuyu, even when it was uninvited.

Santa Anna best lawn

By: on 25 January 2019
As the advice per the munns article, the bees knees is monument, a herbicide that really works wonders. Again as the article suggests you can't buy it unless you are licenced. Maybe the option could, hire a professional to treat your lawn periodically with monument or try the paspalum. Even if you were able to purchase monument it sells for around $1000 per litre or $150 per 100mls, Arghhhh! The pain. Most definitely worth giving your santa ana the TLC it deserves water, fertilizer, weed control and regular mowing. Hope this helps. Tom

Next door neighbours kikuyu

By: on 5 January 2019
Hi there, after reading this article and comments I’m a little depressed! Purchased my Windsor Green from Paul Munns 3 years ago and it’s looking perfect - bordered by garden beds that started to be invaded by the neighbours Kikuyu (they don’t maintain it well) so I dig down under the fence to create a physical barrier by putting sleepers under the fence, close to a foot under, and 12 months later the runners are growing underneath the sleepers. I fear only a matter of time before it gets into the lawn because I can’t dig them out every 12 months! Seems not much can be done unfortunately - will just keep spraying. I’m thinking it might be best not to put weed mat down as the runners will grow hidden underneath? Would digging deeper and perhaps putting in some black plastic deep down as well work? How deep can the runners go?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Andrew, I haven't got much good news for you unfortunately. As you have experienced, Kikuyu is highly invasive. If the conditions in your yard (ie water/fertiliser etc) are more favorable that the conditions in your neighbors, the kikuyu will hunt for those better conditions. This is probably why it is continually invading your lawn. It will burrow down very deep into the soil to get where it wants to go so physical barriers only go so far to stopping it.

Next door neighbours kikuyu

By: on 4 January 2019
Hi there, after reading this article and comments I’m a little depressed! Purchased my Windsor Green from Paul Munns 3 years ago and it’s looking perfect - bordered by garden beds that started to be invaded by the neighbours Kikuyu (they don’t maintain it well) so I dig down under the fence to create a physical barrier by putting sleepers under the fence, close to a foot under, and 12 months later the runners are growing underneath the sleepers. I fear only a matter of time before it gets into the lawn because I can’t dig them out every 12 months! Seems not much can be done unfortunately - will just keep spraying. I’m thinking it might be best not to put weed mat down as the runners will grow hidden underneath? Would digging deeper and perhaps putting in some black plastic deep down as well work? How deep can the runners go?

Kikuyu invading garden beds

By: on 4 November 2018
Kikuyu took over my soft leaf buffalo lawn & is now invading my garden bed & driving me nuts. I don’t like using glyphosate as I try to keep ithe garden organic. In the past I used 15 cm edging and the kikuyu laughed at my feeble attempt to keep it out. How deep does edging have to be to prevent invasion? Or if I do want to get rid of kikuyu, what non-invasive lawn would you recommend? I live in eastern Adelaide.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Jan, As you have probably discovered, Kikuyu is very invasive. In my experience, Kikuyu there is no edging that can stop its rhizomes from getting into garden beds. The other unfortunate thing for you is that once you have it, there is very little chance of being able to get rid of it. While Kikuyu will always be invasive, if the conditions on the other side of the edging are more favorable that those on the lawn side , the kikuyu will hunt. For example, if you water your garden more than your kikuyu lawn, the kikuyu will hunt down the water, making it more invasive.

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