If you live in Southern or Transition zones, then Zoysia grass may be a good choice for you. It is a heat and drought tolerant grass, with a lush carpet-like, dark green appearance. It is an ideal option for areas with high foot traffic, making it a popular choice for homes and golf courses. Zoysia can tolerate considerable variations in exposure to sunlight, water and temperature. Even though it handles a wide range of conditions, it will not work for every application. Before purchasing Zoysia grass, make sure you understand what it can and cannot tolerate.
Why Zoysia Grass Is Popular
- It is a warm season grass that also tolerates cold weather well.
- It does best in full sun, but can handle light shade.
- It is heat and drought tolerant.
- It makes for a durable lawn, as it is resistant to weeds, pests and disease.
- It can handle high foot traffic.
- It tends to have a soft, fine texture that is easy on the eyes and pleasant to the skin.
- It is salt tolerant and well suited for coastal use.
Where Zoysia Grass Falls Short
- It can be invasive, creeping into flowerbeds or neighboring yards.
- It is prone to zoysia patch disease, which can kill the grass and give it a rust color as it is dying.
- It requires frequent mowing, and can thicken, becoming difficult to mow.
- It is prone to thatch (a thick, brown or black layer of plant debris between the soil and the grass). If thatch is more than 3/4 inch thick, water, fertilizer and pesticides have a difficult time reaching the soil, as they cannot penetrate the tough, dry layer.
Caring For Zoysia Grass
- Don’t fertilize too early
Early spring applications (before May) can promote the growth of weeds in the lawn and contribute to premature top growth before the root system is actively growing. For Zoysia grass, divide the total amount of fertilizer into 2-3 applications. One method is to apply ½ of the total amount in early June and mid/late July. Another method is to apply 1/3 of the amount in early June, July and August.
- Don’t fertilize too late in the Fall
Fall fertilizing (after August) can delay the natural dormancy period of warm-season grasses and make them more susceptible to winter injury.
- Choose a fertilizer with equal parts Nitrogen and Potassium
Zoysia needs just as much Potassium as it does Nitrogen. With equal parts of both nutrients, Simple Plant Food’s Simple Balance is a perfect choice for maintaining and promoting the overall health and vitality of your Zoysia grass.
For your lawn to maintain its lush appearance, Zoysia grass should be mowed fairly low, around an inch tall. This is especially true in the spring because this will accelerate your lawn becoming green.
- Protect the lawn in the summer
Zoysia’s dense growth can reduce the weed population but to be sure, use of a pre-emergent herbicide is recommended in the spring.
- Water deeply
Although Zoysia tolerates drought, it turns brown and goes dormant without frequent watering during prolonged dry spells. During the growing season, it needs irrigation to 6 inches deep at the first sign of wilt or bluish gray color. During winter dormancy, Zoysia still needs occasional watering to prevent the soil from drying, and to prevent the lawn from thinning and becoming susceptible to weeds.