Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Zoysiagrass, I am sure that most of you have heard of this type of grass. Is this a grass type that we will love or hate? Let’s explore the good and bad of zoysia.
Zoysiagrass was first introduced into the United Sates from Korea in the 1950’s. The first common-types did not have very good turf quality. In the last 15 years there have been some improvements in the quality of zoysia available.
How do you know if you are looking at zoysiagrass? The most obvious would be when you are driving down the street in the late fall and you notice a lawn that is totally brown. Sometimes you will only see a lawn like this every ten miles and then sometimes there can be several in certain neighborhoods. Most likely this is zoysiagrass.
The browning is due to the temperatures at these times of year, fall, winter and early spring. Fertilizing the grass will not change or improve the color of the turf when it is brown and dormant. If you need green grass, why not paint it? Yes, there are even dyes available to keep your zoysiagrass green. The other way you may be able to detect zoysiagrass in summer months is when you try to mow it you can barely push the mower through the thickness. Believe me, if you came across zoysiagrass you would know it.
You may have seen some of the advertisements in the Sunday newspaper for zoysia plugs for your lawn available via mail order. Depending on the size of your lawn it sounds like an awful lot of grass to ship in the mail. However, these are shipped as one to two inch plugs and not strips of zoysia sod. You place 1-2 plugs in the desired lawn area every square foot. The plugs grow together over time, sometimes 2-3 years into a lawn. It is easier to establish a lawn from plugs than from seed.
Zoysiagrass is very heat, drought and insect resistant, winter hardy and it chokes out weeds. Zoysiagrass is also a low maintenance grass requiring only small amounts of fertilizer and chemical treatments. However, zoysiagrass also has its drawbacks (doesn’t everything?). Clippings should be removed or picked up in order to avoid thatch build-up. Thatch build up must be prevented. You would need to core aerate every two years: this is not generally required of typical cool season grasses like Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescues, or fine fescues like the Creeping or Chewing-types.
Zoysiagrass will take over any other grasses that are currently in the lawn with its vigorous growth. It has been known to grow under walkways and even driveways. If you decide that you do not like your zoysiagrass lawn you will have a difficult if not impossible time getting rid of it! What do you do when it starts to invade your landscape beds?
How can we get rid of unwanted zoysiagrass? It is very difficult due to its persistent root system. My first home has some zoysiagrass in it and it spread a few feet every year until I had enough. I sprayed the lawn while it was green and actively growing with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate. This is available at many garden centers and hardware stores. I then sprayed the area again 14 days later. I then rented a sod cutter to cut out the dead grass. I ended up putting gravel in that area and the next year moving away. I am not sure if the zoysiagrass came back after these measures but I would not be surprised.
Zoysiagrass is really a warm season grass. All warm season grasses go dormant when cold weather sets in. In my opinion, based on the facts above I feel that zoysiagrass is a foe not a friend and that it does not really belong in anyone’s lawn. If zoysiagrass was that good wouldn’t you see more of it in your neighborhood? Who wants a lawn that is brown for 6+ months?
If you are looking for a lawn that is green for most of the year we should be seeding traditional cool season grasses like Jonathan Green’s Black Beauty Ultra or Sun and Shade. This why you cannot find zoysiagrass on the shelves, it really does not work well in many states.
I hope you have luck whether you have zoysiagrass or not in your lawn!Back