Kikuyu vs Couch: What’s Best For Your Yard

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
August 23, 2023

We all know that choosing the right grass can be daunting, especially if you need to know the difference between the available options. Often you may find that Kikuyu and Couch grass will pop up when researching such options, as these are two popular types for many Australian backyards. 

To help guide your choice, we’ll compare these two grass types and help you decide what best suits your needs.

What is Kikuyu Grass?

Kikuyu grass is a warm-season grass that’s native to East Africa. It’s known for its durability, fast growth, and ability to handle heavy traffic. You will most commonly find Kikuyu grass around sports fields, golf courses, and parks because of its ability to withstand wear and tear.

What does Kikuyu grass look like?

Kikuyu grass is bright green and is known for its thick, lush growth with long, broad leaves typically around 3-4mm wide. Additionally, Kikuyu has a slightly rough texture and can feel coarse to the touch. It also has a distinctive smell, which some people describe as earthy or grassy. 

Kikuyu grass also produces 2-3cm long seed heads that have a spiky appearance. 


  • Fast Growth: Kikuyu grass can grow up to 20-30 cm in a month, making it one of the fastest-growing grass types.
  • Durability: Kikuyu grass is known for its durability and can withstand heavy foot traffic. 
  • Tolerance to Heat: Kikuyu grass can tolerate high temperatures, making it an ideal choice for warm climates.
  • Low Cost: Kikuyu grass is relatively inexpensive compared to other grass types.


  • Invasive: Kikuyu grass is a highly invasive species that can quickly overtake other grasses and plants. 
  • High Maintenance: Kikuyu grass requires frequent mowing and fertilisation.
  • Susceptible to Disease: Kikuyu grass is susceptible to diseases such as rust on plants.

What is Couch grass?

Couch grass, also known as Bermuda grass, is a warm-season grass popular in many parts of the world. It’s known for its fine texture, dense growth, and excellent drought tolerance. 

Couch grass is often used in residential lawns, golf courses, and sports fields.

What does Couch grass look like?

Couch grass has several characteristics that make it an excellent choice for many homeowners. The leaves are narrow and pointed, and the stems are thin and wiry, giving it a delicate appearance. Couch grass can be tidy when mowed, making it a popular choice for Australian homes. 


  • Drought Tolerance: Couch grass is very drought tolerant and can survive in areas with little rainfall.
  • Dense Growth: Couch grass has a dense growth pattern, making it ideal for lawns and sports fields.
  • Fine Texture: Couch grass has a fine texture, making it feel soft and smooth.
  • Tolerance to Wear and Tear: Couch grass can withstand wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.


  • Susceptible to Cold: Couch grass is less cold tolerant than Kikuyu grass, making it unsuitable for colder regions.
  • High Maintenance: Couch grass requires frequent mowing and fertilisation.
  • Invasive: Like Kikuyu, Couch grass can become invasive and take over other plants if not managed properly.

How can you tell the difference between a Couch and a Kikuyu?

One way to distinguish between Couch grass and Kikuyu grass is their appearance. Couch grass has a fine texture and light to medium green colour, while Kikuyu grass has a broader leaf blade and a brighter green colour. 

Additionally, Couch grass has a low growth habit and forms a dense mat-like cover over the ground, while Kikuyu grass grows more upright and can reach taller heights. Another way to tell the difference is by their growth rate, with Kikuyu grass having a much faster growth rate than Couch grass. 

What’s better: Kikuyu or Couch?

Choosing between Kikuyu and Couch grass can be challenging, but it ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Below, we put Kikuyu and Couch grass head to head to examine the best option for your lawn.

Couch vs Kikuyu Grass: Head to Head Comparison


Winner – Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu grass is typically less expensive, making it a popular choice for individuals on a tight budget. Because of its quick growth rate and resilience, it provides exceptional value for money. While Couch grass has advantages, the slightly higher price tag may not be justified for all gardeners, especially when vast areas are considered.

Drought Tolerance

Winner – Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu has an advantage in this area due to its high drought tolerance. It takes little irrigation once established, making it an excellent choice for areas prone to dry spells. Couch grass, while drought-tolerant, may require extra attention during exceptionally dry periods, making Kikuyu the more practical choice.

Wear tolerance

Winner – Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu suits high-traffic areas because of its toughness and great wear resistance. Kikuyu can handle heavy foot activity and recover rapidly on a playground or a sports field. Couch grass, while wear-resistant, may take longer to recover, giving Kikuyu the advantage in this regard.

Shade requirements

Winner – Couch Grass

The capacity of couch grass can adapt to partial shade provides it the advantage in this area. While both types of grass flourish in full sun, Couch’s shadow tolerance offers more diverse planting options. Kikuyu’s desire for full sun may make it unsuitable for gardens with a lot of shade.


Winner – Couch Grass

Couch wins this category due to its slower development rate and less invasive character. While the quick proliferation of Kikuyu can be advantageous in some places, it may necessitate more effort to regulate, particularly near flower beds or other fragile plants. In short, Couch’s growth pattern is more manageable.

Maintenance needs

Winner – Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu is the winner because it is low-maintenance. While it must be mowed regularly, its overall maintenance is less demanding than that of Couch, which may require more frequent mowing and fertilisation. Kikuyu’s ease of upkeep can help you save time and money in the long run.

Environmentally friendly

Winner – Kikuyu Grass

Kikuyu has a lower water use once established, giving it an advantage in terms of environmental friendliness. Although its invasive nature may provide issues, its lower resource use makes it a more sustainable option. Couch’s increased water and fertiliser requirements may have a greater influence on the local ecosystem.

Aesthetic appeal

Winner – Couch Grass

Couch grass is the most visually appealing grass due to its smooth, silky texture and homogeneous appearance. Its sophisticated appearance can offer a touch of refinement to any garden. While the brilliant green colour of Kikuyu is alluring, its coarser texture may not be suitable for people seeking a more refined appearance.

As a result, we believe that Kikuyu grass is a fantastic choice for warm climates, high-traffic areas, and budget-conscious gardeners, making it an ideal choice for locations such as Queensland and New South Wales, where the environment is frequently warm and humid. It’s drought tolerance and simple maintenance requirements add to its allure. 

Couch grass, on the other hand, thrives in locations with low rainfall and more temperate conditions, such as South Australia and Victoria, due to its aesthetic appeal and adaptation to partial shade. Its delicate texture and exquisite appearance make it a favourite among those looking for a more sophisticated lawn. 

Can Kikuyu and Couch grass be planted together?

We advise against planting Kikuyu and Couch grass together. 

While the combination may appear pleasing, Kikuyu’s fast and invasive growth can quickly overwhelm and outcompete the more refined Couch grass. Their varying growth rates and maintenance requirements might result in an uneven appearance and issues in lawn care. Couch’s slower growth and specific shade needs may clash with Kikuyu’s strong character. 

Rather than attempting to merge these two unique grass species, we recommend concentrating on the one that best meets your lawn’s individual demands, environment, and aesthetic preferences. This method results in a more balanced and harmonious appearance.

Key takeaways

Ultimately, Kikuyu and Couch grass are common lawn grasses in Australia, each with its own distinct qualities. Kikuyu is well-known for its rapid growth, resilience, and low cost, yet it can be invasive and high-maintenance. Couch grass has a fine texture and is drought resilient, although it is not cold tolerant. 

When cost, drought tolerance, wear resistance, shade requirements, invasiveness, maintenance, environmental friendliness, and aesthetics are considered, Kikuyu is frequently preferred for warm climates such as Queensland and New South Wales. In contrast, Couch is better for areas with less rainfall, such as South Australia and Victoria. 

We do not recommend planting them together due to their opposing growth patterns and upkeep requirements.


How do I stop Kikuyu from spreading?

We recommend creating physical barriers around areas where you do not want the grass to spread, such as garden beds or other landscaped areas, to prevent Kikuyu grass from spreading. This can be done using plastic or metal edging materials or a barrier material like geotextile fabric.

What kills Kikuyu grass but not Couch?

Glyphosate-based herbicides are effective at killing Kikuyu grass without harming Couch grass. Still, they should be used cautiously and according to label instructions to avoid damaging other plants or harming the environment.

Is Couch grass toxic to dogs?

Couch grass is generally non-toxic to dogs, but dogs may experience digestive upset if they consume large amounts of grass. Additionally, some herbicides used on lawns may be toxic to dogs if ingested, so following label instructions and keeping pets away from treated areas until the product has fully dried is important.

Is Kikuyu toxic to dogs?

Kikuyu grass is not generally considered toxic to dogs, but dogs may experience digestive upset if they consume large amounts of grass or are sensitive to the plant. Additionally, some herbicides used on lawns may be toxic to dogs if ingested, so following label instructions and keeping pets away from treated areas until the product has fully dried is important.