What is Kikuyu Grass Growth?

Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is a warm-season perennial grass that is native to East Africa. It is a popular choice for lawns and sports fields due to its fast growth, ability to withstand heavy foot traffic, and tolerance to drought and heat. Kikuyu grass has a vigorous growth habit, spreading quickly through above-ground stolons and below-ground rhizomes. This allows it to form a dense and lush turf, making it a desirable option for areas with high wear and tear.

The Growth Cycle of Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass has a distinct growth cycle that can be divided into four main stages: dormancy, spring growth, summer growth, and autumn growth. Understanding these stages can help homeowners and turf managers effectively care for and maintain their Kikuyu grass lawns.


During the winter months, Kikuyu grass goes into a period of dormancy. This is a natural response to colder temperatures and reduced sunlight. The grass blades turn brown and growth slows down significantly. While the grass may appear dead, the roots and rhizomes remain alive underground, ready to spring back to life once favorable conditions return.

Spring Growth

As temperatures start to rise and daylight hours increase, Kikuyu grass enters its spring growth phase. This is when the grass begins to recover from dormancy and resumes active growth. New shoots emerge from the rhizomes, and the grass blades start to turn green again. With proper care and maintenance, Kikuyu grass can quickly fill in bare patches and regain its lush appearance.

Summer Growth

Summer is the peak growing season for Kikuyu grass. The warm temperatures and longer days provide optimal conditions for rapid growth. During this time, the grass can grow at a rate of up to 10 centimeters per week. Regular mowing is necessary to keep the grass at an ideal height and prevent it from becoming overgrown. Adequate irrigation is also crucial to ensure the grass receives enough water to support its vigorous growth.

Autumn Growth

As summer transitions into autumn, the growth rate of Kikuyu grass starts to slow down. The cooler temperatures and shorter days signal the grass to prepare for the upcoming winter dormancy period. While the growth may not be as rapid as in summer, Kikuyu grass can still benefit from regular maintenance practices such as mowing, fertilizing, and weed control to promote a healthy and resilient lawn.

Caring for Kikuyu Grass Growth

To ensure optimal growth and health of Kikuyu grass, proper care and maintenance are essential. Here are some key practices to consider:


Kikuyu grass should be mowed regularly to maintain an ideal height of around 2-4 centimeters. Regular mowing helps to promote lateral growth and prevent the grass from becoming too dense and prone to thatch buildup. It is recommended to mow the grass when it reaches a height of approximately 5-7 centimeters.


Kikuyu grass is known for its drought tolerance, but it still requires regular watering to thrive. Deep and infrequent watering is recommended to encourage deep root growth and make the grass more resilient to drought conditions. Watering should be done early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation.


Applying a balanced fertilizer can help promote healthy growth and vibrant green color in Kikuyu grass. It is best to fertilize in early spring and late summer or early autumn when the grass is actively growing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and timing.

Weed Control

Regular weed control is important to prevent invasive weeds from competing with Kikuyu grass for nutrients and space. Pre-emergent herbicides can be applied in early spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating, while post-emergent herbicides can be used to target existing weeds. It is important to carefully read and follow the instructions on herbicide labels to ensure safe and effective use.


Aerating the soil can help alleviate compaction and improve water and nutrient penetration to the roots of Kikuyu grass. Core aeration, which involves removing small plugs of soil, is typically recommended. This should be done in early spring or early autumn when the grass is actively growing.


In conclusion, understanding the growth cycle of Kikuyu grass and implementing proper care and maintenance practices can help homeowners and turf managers achieve a lush and healthy lawn. By following the recommended guidelines for mowing, irrigation, fertilization, weed control, and aeration, Kikuyu grass can thrive and provide a beautiful and resilient turf for various applications.