Kenya is known for its diverse and lush vegetation. One of the most popular grass species in the country is Kikuyu grass. This type of grass is native to East Africa and is commonly found in highland regions where it thrives in cool temperatures and high rainfall. It is a fast-growing and aggressive grass that can be used for various purposes, including lawn, golfing, and fodder.
If you are looking to grow Kikuyu grass in Kenya, there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, it is important to note that Kikuyu grass grows best on moderately drained and high fertility loam, red basalt, or clay soils. It can also do well on alluvial and fertilized moist sandy soils. The grass is known to tolerate acidic soils (of up to 4.5 pH level) as well as moderate salinity.
Another important factor to consider when growing Kikuyu grass is the climate. The grass thrives in cool areas with an annual rainfall of between 800mm to 1500mm. It is important to note that Kikuyu grass does not do well in areas with high temperatures and low rainfall. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to grow Kikuyu grass in Kenya, covering everything from soil preparation to maintenance.
Choosing the Right Location
When it comes to growing kikuyu grass in Kenya, choosing the right location is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:
- Soil type: Kikuyu grass grows best on moderately drained and high fertility loam, red basalt, or clay soils. It can also do well on alluvial and fertilized moist sandy soils. It is important to test the soil pH level before planting kikuyu grass. The ideal pH range is between 5.5 and 7.5.
- Climate: Kikuyu grass thrives in cool areas with an annual rainfall of 800-1200 mm. It can tolerate both high and low temperatures. However, it may not do well in areas with high humidity.
- Sunlight: Kikuyu grass requires full sun to grow well. It may not do well in shaded areas.
- Drainage: Kikuyu grass requires good drainage. Avoid planting it in areas with poor drainage to prevent waterlogging.
Once you have identified a suitable location, it is important to prepare the soil properly. This involves removing any weeds, rocks, or debris and tilling the soil to a depth of at least 15 cm.
It is also important to fertilize the soil before planting kikuyu grass. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply the fertilizer evenly over the soil and work it into the top 5 cm of soil.
By choosing the right location and preparing the soil properly, you can ensure that your kikuyu grass will grow healthy and strong.
Preparing the Soil
Before planting Kikuyu grass in Kenya, it is important to prepare the soil properly to ensure the grass grows healthy and strong. Here are some steps to follow:
- Clean the area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the area where you plan to plant the Kikuyu grass. This will help prevent competition for nutrients and water.
- Test the soil: Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and nutrient content of the soil. Kikuyu grass grows best in soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0. If the soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH level. If the soil is lacking in nutrients, add fertilizer to improve its quality.
- Till the soil: Use a tiller or garden fork to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. This will help the roots of the Kikuyu grass to penetrate the soil and establish a strong foundation.
- Amend the soil: If the soil is too sandy or has poor drainage, add organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or manure to improve its texture and drainage. This will help retain moisture and nutrients for the Kikuyu grass to thrive.
By following these steps, you can prepare the soil properly for planting Kikuyu grass in Kenya. Remember to water the soil thoroughly after planting the grass to promote healthy growth.
Also Read: How To Grow Paspalum Grass In Kenya
Planting Kikuyu Grass
Kikuyu grass is a popular choice for lawns in Kenya due to its hardiness and ability to withstand drought. Here are some steps to follow when planting kikuyu grass:
- Prepare the soil: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the area where you plan to plant the grass. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches, and mix in some organic matter like compost or manure to improve soil fertility.
- Choose the right time: The best time to plant kikuyu grass is during the rainy season, when the soil is moist and temperatures are mild. This is usually between March and May or between October and December. Avoid planting during the dry season, as the grass may not establish well.
- Plant the grass: Spread the kikuyu grass seeds evenly over the prepared soil, aiming for a rate of about 2 to 3 kilograms per acre. Cover the seeds lightly with soil or compost, and water the area well. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until the grass germinates, which should take about 7 to 10 days.
- Maintain the lawn: Once the kikuyu grass has established, it requires regular maintenance to keep it healthy and looking good. Mow the grass regularly to a height of about 2 to 3 inches, and water it deeply once or twice a week during the dry season. Fertilize the lawn once or twice a year with a balanced fertilizer to keep it green and healthy.
By following these steps, you can successfully plant and maintain a beautiful kikuyu grass lawn in Kenya.
Watering and Fertilizing
Kikuyu grass is a hardy and drought-resistant grass that can survive in harsh conditions. However, to ensure that it grows lush and green, it is important to water and fertilize it regularly. Here are some tips on how to water and fertilize your Kikuyu grass:
Kikuyu grass requires regular watering to grow well. During the dry season, it is important to water your lawn at least once a week. However, during the rainy season, you may not need to water your lawn as often. Here are some tips on how to water your Kikuyu grass:
- Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid evaporation.
- Water deeply and infrequently. This means that you should water your lawn for a longer period of time, but less often.
- Do not water your lawn when it is raining.
- Use a sprinkler system or a hose with a spray nozzle to water your lawn.
Kikuyu grass requires regular fertilization to grow well. However, it is important not to over-fertilize your lawn as this can lead to excessive growth and thatch buildup. Here are some tips on how to fertilize your Kikuyu grass:
- Fertilize your lawn in the spring and fall. This is when the grass is actively growing and needs the most nutrients.
- Use a balanced fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Apply the fertilizer evenly over your lawn using a spreader.
- Water your lawn after fertilizing to help the nutrients penetrate the soil.
- Avoid fertilizing your lawn during the hot and dry season as this can burn the grass.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your Kikuyu grass grows lush, green, and healthy.
Mowing and Maintenance
Kikuyu grass is a fast-growing grass that requires regular mowing and maintenance for optimal growth. Here are some tips to keep your kikuyu lawn healthy:
- Mow the lawn regularly: Kikuyu grass should be mowed every 7-10 days during the growing season. Keep the grass at a height of 2-3 inches to promote healthy growth.
- Water the lawn: Kikuyu grass requires regular watering to maintain its lush green color. Water the lawn deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions.
- Fertilize the lawn: Apply a balanced fertilizer to your kikuyu lawn every 6-8 weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth.
It is important to note that kikuyu grass can quickly become invasive and take over other areas of your garden. To prevent this, it is recommended to install a barrier around the lawn or plant kikuyu grass in a contained area.
Additionally, kikuyu grass is prone to diseases such as leaf spot and dollar spot. To prevent these diseases, avoid overwatering the lawn and ensure that the grass is not too thick, as this can create a humid environment that promotes disease growth. If you notice any signs of disease, such as yellowing or brown spots on the grass, contact a lawn care professional for advice on treatment options.
Also Read: How To Grow Bermuda Grass In Kenya
Dealing with Common Problems
Despite being a hardy grass, Kikuyu grass can still encounter some problems. Here are some common issues and how to deal with them:
If you notice yellow grass in your lawn, it could be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Fertilize your lawn with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to help it regain its green color. If the yellowing persists, it could be a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. In that case, adjust your watering schedule or improve drainage in the affected area.
Kikuyu grass can develop a thatch layer, which is a buildup of dead grass and other organic matter. This layer can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots, leading to yellowing and thinning of the grass. To prevent thatch buildup, regularly rake your lawn and remove any dead grass and debris. You can also use a dethatching machine to remove the layer.
Weeds can compete with Kikuyu grass for water and nutrients, leading to stunted growth and thinning of the grass. To prevent weeds from taking over your lawn, regularly remove any weeds that you see. You can also use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
Kikuyu grass can be susceptible to pests such as armyworms and cutworms. These pests can cause significant damage to your lawn if left unchecked. To prevent pest infestations, regularly inspect your lawn for signs of damage or infestation. If you notice any signs, treat your lawn with a pesticide that is safe for use on Kikuyu grass.
Growing Kikuyu grass in Kenya can be a great way to create a lush and green lawn. With its ability to withstand drought and high temperatures, it is a popular choice for many homeowners and businesses. By following the right steps, you can ensure that your Kikuyu grass thrives and remains healthy.
Remember to choose the right location for your Kikuyu grass, as it prefers full sun and well-draining soil. Make sure to prepare the soil properly before planting, and water your grass regularly to help it establish roots. Fertilize your Kikuyu grass with a balanced fertilizer to ensure it gets the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy.
When it comes to mowing your Kikuyu grass, make sure to do it regularly to prevent it from becoming too tall and smothering other plants. Keep the grass at a height of 1 to 2.5 inches to ensure it looks neat and tidy. If you notice any weeds or pests, take action immediately to prevent them from damaging your grass.
Overall, growing Kikuyu grass in Kenya can be a rewarding experience. By following the right steps and providing your grass with the care it needs, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy lawn that will last for years to come.
Sources: Morrison, J. “The effects of nitrogen, phosphorus and cultivation on the productivity of kikuyu grass at high altitudes in Kenya.” East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal 31.3 (1966): 291-297. Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00128325.1966.11662056
Bourke, C. A. “A review of kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) poisoning in cattle.” Australian Veterinary Journal 85.7 (2007): 261-267. Link: http://www.gege.agrarias.ufpr.br/plantastoxicas/arquivos/pennisetum%20clandestinum.pdf