Advantages and Disadvantages of Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass, also known as Pennisetum clandestinum, is an invasive, noxious weed located in California and Hawaii. It was brought to California during the 1920's to prevent erosion near roads and hills before spreading to other areas. This tropical plant thrives in humid and coastal climates, and is commonly found in sandy soils. This grass type closely resembles St. Augustine grass; however, its leaves are a lighter green and possess fine hairs.

Advantages of Kikuyu Grass

Most people don't plant Kikuyu grass because it's aggressive, appearing even if it has not been planted. Although this grass type is commonly associated with an array of problems, it does possess a few benefits. It's highly drought-tolerant, grows fast, and spreads by seeds, stolons and rhizomes. Unlike other grass types, Kikuyu grass doesn't require extra fertilizer. In fact, it can grow dense without extra fertilizer. If you have a warm-season lawn, you can overseed this grass in the winter for a green lawn all winter.

Disadvantages of Kikuyu Grass

In addition to being incredibly difficult to get rid of, Kikuyu grass easily accumulates thatch. Thatch is comprised of roots and grass plant stems. Excessive thatch is problematic because it's a breeding ground for insects and fungal diseases. Not only does thatch make lawns more susceptible to harmful pests and diseases, but it also affects the soil quality. This is because thatch makes it harder for soil to receive beneficial nutrients.

Vertical mowing is the most effective form of treatment for thatch. This process makes it easier to extract thatch from one's lawn; however, it's recommended that homeowners hire a professional lawn care company because vertical mowing can damage one's lawn if not done properly.

How to Get Rid of Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass is almost impossible to get rid of. This drought-tolerant weed can also withstand over-watering and undesirable soil conditions. Since it's classified as a noxious weed, it's illegal to deliberately plant Kikuyu grass.

This grass type is resistant to herbicides, including powerful non-selective herbicides, which kill anything they're applied to. Kikuyu grass only responds to a highly toxic treatment called methyl bromide fumigation. Even with this treatment, some seeds or plants parts will remain.

However, regular applications of triclophyr or quinclorac may suppress the weed, allowing other plants to compete for nutrients. It's important to note that quinclorac has not received full registration because its effects have not been fully researched.

Regularly mowing your lawn can also help control Kikuyu grass. Since mowing can cause plant seeds to spread, it's best to clean the mower before moving on to an uninfected area.

Removing Kikuyu grass can be a hassle; however, regular maintenance may provide some assistance when fending off this bothersome weed.

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