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 (10)

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.

Chickens can help!

By: on 20 October 2018
My lawn is like a Sizzler salad bar for my chooks but they seem to clearly eat the kikuyu ahead of the buffalo and in a mobile pen change the balance to buffalo. They only eat the tops though!

Kikuyu and something

By: on 5 October 2018
Kikuyu is taking over my lawn. I got it down to about a quarter 2yeqrs ago but after breaking my leg, .... well ... it may be better to just let it take over but I’m concerned about keeping it out of the garden and also making it look lush.. especially in the shady parts.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Chrissie, Kikuyu is an invasive grass and most probably will invade your garden beds from time to time. Once kikuyu gets hold like that and becomes the majority of our lawn, its very hard to eradicate so it may be a good idea to let it go.


By: on 30 August 2018
Hi, I have made 2 applications of round up type chemicals on a section of lawn I am turning into a garden bed. I have a concrete edging installed around the proposed bed. The kikuyu looks very dead but I am worried about regrowth, even though it has looked dead for 2 months now. Presume digging it out is a waste of time and tilling it over wouldn’t be a good idea either? Any tips to keep it at bay before I load on the foot or so of garden bed soil and the layer of mulch?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Simon, As you are probably aware, killing Kikuyu can be a very tricky process. It can look dead and then come back again with amazing vigor. Kikuyu is only just starting to come into season now so the test will be whether you see it in the next few months. I would say that you will probably see it again which means you'll need to have a trigger bottle of roundup at hand to squash it when it re-appears.

Lawn watering

By: on 5 August 2018
After applying the roundup how long does one wait before watering the lawn?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Leslie, I wouldn't turn your irrigation on for at least 6 daytime hours after spraying. The same goes for rain or dew - don't spray if either of these two are expected within 6 hours.

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