Zoysia grass has been a native in parts of Asia and Japan for centuries and by the 20th century,the warm-season grass had been introduced to the united states. Zoysia was noted as being prevalent along the seashores of the Philippines and would flourish in Florida along the Gulf and Atlantic coast. A second species of zoysia is the Z. japonica, better known as Japanese lawn grass. It is very similar to the Z. matrella except it can be grown a little further north due to its cold hardiness. Z. japonica also has a coarser texture and can be planted by seed. The third species of zoysia grass is Z. tenuifolia. Out of the three species, it is the least cold tolerant and it mostly seen in Southern parts of California as a ground cover. In contrast to Z. japonica, it has a very fine texture.
Zoysia is a warm-season grass with stolons and rhizomes. It is known to brown following an extreme frost but unlike other grasses will be one of the first to emerge when spring rolls around.
Zoysia grass adapt easily to any type of soil ph and other soil compositions including clay or sand. As mentioned above it can be planted along the Atlantic coast up to Connecticut. It is also a great transition zone grass as long as shade is minimal. Zoysia’s unique root system allows it to reach deep into the soil for moisture which is the reason it is so tolerant to drought conditions. It will possess a brown color under extreme drought conditions but by using supplement water sprinklers will keep it green until the next rain fall.
Although it may be known for its green lush appearance it is also moderately tolerant to heavy trafficked areas but beware that growth of Zoysia is slow the recuperating aspect is very poor. When planting for lawns, make sure the traffic is not in one particular part of the lawn because the damaged area will slowly fill in.
Before planting Zoysia, be sure to remove all weeds and finely till the area. A piece of Zoysia sod can be torn to provide sprigs or plugs. The plugs must be cut into 2 inch pieces before finally planted.
Plant the sprigs 2 inches apart being sure each sprig contains a stem and rhizome. Leave a node above ground once planted.
If broadcasting your sprigs, they should be at a rate of 10 bushels per 1000 square feet and rolled to ensure contact with soil. Success do Zoysia will be watering daily for weeks and fertilizing with a low nitrogen fertilizer in the beginning monthly. A polyethylene tarp can be used to cover the sprigs to contain moisture and increase the temperature of the soil in the beginning of spring. Spring to early summer is optimal time of the year for planting. Zoysia will grow from spring to fall when most of the nutrient and moisture needs are reached. During midsummer when drought periods are at the highest maintain 1 inch of water per week by watering 2-3 times a week depending on soil condition. Draining soil such as sand doesn’t hold moisture compared to clay and will require more water.
It would be beneficial to apply a weed control while Zoysia is germinating. As mentioned earlier, Zoysia is slow growing so weeds could easily stop progression if not controlled. Knowing what kinds of weeds your lawn harbors will aid in your success in eliminating them. By identifying the weeds you are able to learn their life cycle which allows you to effectively time the weed control. When choosing a weed control always choose the herbicide least toxic. Instead of treating your whole lawn treat only effected areas. Look beyond any products with 2,4-D. Also choosing products that break down quickly when exposed to sunlight will not leave a residue to be track it into the house. On the down side, most of the biodegradable products will kill not only kill the weed it comes in contact with but the grass as well. Some of the least toxic herbicides on the market today are herbicidal soap by Bayer and Bio safe. Research these healthier herbicides and choose which is best for your lawn.
The accumulation of thatch is very common among Zoysia lawns. By keeping recommended mowing schedules will prevent the accumulation of thatch. Thatch is the dead light brown matted layer below the living grass. Thatch is only seen to be a problem when it exceeds 1/2 inch. By keeping it below a half inch will prove to be very beneficial to your lawn by insulating your soil during extreme temperature and taking the beating from foot traffic. A thick layer will prevent water and nutrient absorption, which will encourage pests such as chinch bugs to take over and begin destroying all your hard work. If thatch does begin to build up, a Arnold blade dethatcher may be used to aid in ceasing the deterioration of your turf. Dethatching should be done before fall so new growth will not be inhibited in the spring.
Insects are a never ending problem for most lawns. When the temperatures start to warm up populations of insects actively increase. The best line of defense is to provide your lawn with optimal conditions for growing. The main objective is to make your lawn unattractive to pests. Pests are not only a problem when it comes to Zoysia. Disease such as brown spots causes Zoysia a little trouble but its recovery is quick once the environment changes. Avoiding over-fertilization and timing the application of the fertilizers will decrease the nutrients for pests but not for the lawn. Also, properly maintaining Zoysia will decrease the chances of disease and pests taking over.
The most important pest to watch is white grubs. These poses the biggest threat to a Zoysia lawn. White grubs are root-eating larvae from beetles and bugs. They are easily identified as whitish in color and present a C-shape. A damaged area will present damage that resembles drought damage in the latter part of spring and brownish color by mid- to late summer. A good way to observe the infestation is if the grass easily rolls back from eaten roots. In the spring after temperatures have heated above 60 degrees , the grubs may be seen above ground. The best way to determine infestation is to count 10 or more grubs per square foot. To control or eliminate these pests simply broadcast parasitic nematodes in your lawn. After they hatch the grubs will consume them and die.
Zoysia grass is a beautiful plant and perfect for lawns used for entertaining or just to admire while kicking back during the summer evenings. They are practically maintenance free and if kept healthy and thick will be enjoyed for years to come.