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Adding Value To your Living and Working Experience


It is the season of lawn troubles!

 Whenever there are drought conditions, lawns planted without consideration reveal themselves spectacularly. And even more, poorly maintained lawns announce themselves unhindered, bearing the ugly truth; that your lawn could have done with a little more care! Unfortunately, a good lawn can’t be faked. You either have a topnotch lawn or your lawn is  “a has been”

This leads gardens to having a fickle relationship with lawns. It’s a joy and pride to have a lawn on which you can laze out in the afternoon Sun, but quite another when the costs of maintenance rear their ugly head.

A good lawn begins with the basics. Choose an appropriate grass type, good ground preparation and sound maintenance practices. If you practice these, you will be rewarded with a lush green lawn against which other garden plants will form a breathtaking tapestry of floral and foliage colour.


Choosing a grass type

This is the most interesting part of lawn growing. And it never ceases to amaze how homeowners are taken in by “the grass I saw somewhere”.  All things being constant, the grass you saw somewhere may be fit for your place, but it is not always so! The grass you choose depends on three key considerations:

Utility-refers to the end use you need a lawn for. Is it for outdoor entertainment, a playground for children for a sports ground

Resilience. The ability of a given grass to withstand adverse conditions is its resilience. These adverse conditions could be climatic, pest and diseases or rough usage.

Maintenance refers to the activities undertaken to keep its beauty and health. These include mowing, weeding, water requirements and feeding.


For grass growing, the following varieties are grown in east Africa Kikuyu grass

Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum)syn Cenchrus clandestinus

Indigenous to Kenya, it has thick blades and is bright green.  Kikuyu grass was first properly identified and described in 1903 by Emilio Chiovenda in Kiamba area of Kiambu county, an area settled by the Kikuyu community, from which it derives its name. 

It grows rapidly. It is cheaper and more drought tolerant. You can use it as fodder for your livestock. For wildlife gardeners, Kikuyu grass is ideal as it provides food for many bird species including the widowbird.

Kikuyu grass is a popular grass that is to be found in Australia, New Zealand , Southern California and South Africa where it dominates homes and golf courses.

Preferred for  home, playgrounds and heavily used public spaces.


Pemba grass

Also known as St Augustine or Buffalo grass.  It grows naturally in North America. It has broad green leaves, much wider than paspalum. It is low growing and the blades are curly.

It is highly adapted to low rainfall areas and withstand cold seasons.

It East Africa, it is a popular lawn grass in the Coastal areas due to prevalent warm conditions.



For many years, paspalum dominated lawns in Kenya and east Africa until it was displaced by Zimbabwe grass. Paspalum has thick blades with dark green colour.  Even though it establishes slowly, it tolerates adverse conditions like shade and wet soils. It is almost weed resistant and grows in sunshine and partial shade. If you garden has lots of trees but clear canopies openings, you can use paspalum under them.


Cape royal

It is a fine , thin and narrow leafed grass that forms a tick spongy mat. It tolerates sandy soils and has rapid regrowth. It is quite tolerant to extreme weather including drought and heat. It is a creeping grass that can grow in light shade and full sun. It is ideal for high traffic areas, homes and playing fields.

Zimbabwe grass

It is similar to paspalum but has thin fine blades and sprigs/stems/. It is fast growing and soon colonizes a given area. Its greatest advantage is that it thrives well in both full sun and dense shade.


Ground preparation

Having settled on a grass type, the next item is to prepare the ground . A false step here will result in poo quality lawn, which may necessitate a repeat job, with the attendant costs and inconveniences.

Initial digging must be deep   preferably 150mm to remove all weeds and deleterious materials. In this soil incorporate compost or manure to a depth of 1 inch and work this into a fine tilth.

For heavy soils such as clay, you can sprinkle 250g of sand per square meter to improve drainage.

Red Soil

Red soil is good for lawn establishment because you can use it to backfill your garden to the desired level, or if the underlying ground is poor. However it is not a must you add red soil if your ground is relatively fine.


Whatever soil you have the important thing is to enrich it enough to support lawn growth.

Rake your ground well to the desired slope. It is recommended that water should drain away from the house.

Lawns can be sown from seeds, cuttings (sprigs) or sods (carpets). Normally grass is planted from sprigs due to faster establishment. Each grass stem is planted at a depth of 1 inch and firmed up.  Water immediately after planting.


A newly planted lawn should be watered daily  until it establishes. Then cut down the watering to twice a week.

For mature lawns mowing should be done every other week during the rains. Cutting height varies with grass type but generally do not cut more than 1 and half inches off. . If you cut too low, the soil will be exposed and weeds will invade. Cutting high is recommended as because taller grass grows deeper roots, which better withstands drought and out competes weeds. Also taller grass looks thicker.

Top dressing

This is done annually and it involves applying a thin quarter inch layer of  a mixture of sand ,compost, DAP and bone meal to the lawn to give it a head start against weeds and pests.

The top dressing matter is mixed in the ratio of  4 parts sand,1 part well-rotted compost, DAP and bone meal which is sieved and then spread over the lawn.

Whenever lawn challenges arise avoid the temptation to blast your lawn with chemicals.  Though weeds, pest and diseases may occur, they are a symptom of a bigger problem. A few weeds in the lawn are perfectly normal. But a particular weed is overtaking your grass is a sign that your lawn is not competitive to choke out the weeds.

A lawn appears healthy when it has no weeds, apparently. But in reality, a lawn has no weeds because it is healthy.

Oxalis is major headache for Kenyan lawns. It pulls nitrogen from the air and appears where grass is sparse and soil is low in nitrogen. Dig up rather soil to remove it and feed the soil with compost to increase soil fertility. Replant the bare patches. Remember vigorous turf is the best weed control.















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