Ronald Strahan, Koske, Thomas J.
Zoysiagrasses came to us from eastern Asia. There are three species of Zoysia that are turfgrass, but we only use the japonica and matrella species here and in most places. The Zoysia tenuifolia has the finest leaf texture, but its delicate nature makes it very freeze sensitive.
Zoysias can make the most beautiful and slow-growing lawns, but they can also be big problems. These lawns are very dense and uniform in appearance, resembling a bermudagrass sod. They are considered high-maintenance turf. This low perennial has both creeping stolons and underground rhizome stems, as does bermudagrass. The seed head is a single, spike-like raceme unlike the 4 to 5 raceme "fingers" on the bermuda seed head.
The best cultivars are from vegetative stock. These are sodded, plugged, stolonized or sprigged. Plugging and some sprigging may require two years of growing because of the slow growth of many older cultivars. Most zoysia lawns are solid-sodded for an instant, beautiful lawn without the long grow-in of pieces.
There are seeded japonica cultivars like Compatibility, Companion, Zenith, Zen, Sunrise, Park Place, Korean Common and several others that produce "good" quality but not "great" quality lawns. In a 2008 trial at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, Zenith established well and currently shows good promise.
Vegetative japonicas that you may hear of are the old Meyer Z52 (Amazoy miracle grass) or the more improved El Toro, Crowne, Empire, GN-Z, Palisades, Belaire, JaMur, Omni, Y-2, Midwest and others.
Vegetative matrella types, which are medium- to medium-fine-textured, are Matrella, Diamond, Cavalier and Cashmere.
There are also interspecific vegetative hybrids with fine texture. These hybrids are Emerald, DeAnza, Victoria and Zeon.
Zoysias produce thick, uniform lawns of tough grass. This tough, thick growth requires sharp mower blades and a thatch reduction program. Without periodic dethatching or topdressing of soil, you can loose a zoysia lawn to excess thatch. Thus the maintenance on zoysia lawns can be considered medium-high to high.
Zoysias can have billbug problems and several diseases like nematodes, rust and brown patch. Damage from pests or general wear is slow because of its slow growth. Its shallow roots have difficulty with compacted soil.
Fertility for fill-in growth is medium-high, but on mature sod, it should be low; more like that of centipedegrass to avoid excessive thatch. Zoysia prefers a soil that is only slightly acid to neutral with a pH of 6-7. Apply a total of 1-2 pounds of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K2O) per 1,000 square feet per season applied as split applications (spring and summer).
As with all lawns, you should mow when the foliage has grown back 50%. Mowing heights run ¾ inch to 1½ inches, with the taller cut required on shaded lawns. For best appearance, use a sharp, reel-type mower. If mowing with a rotary mower, choose the taller cut and sharpen blades three times each season. Collecting these clippings is advised to further manage thatch accumulation.
Zoysiagrass can make a beautiful lawn, but it is slow growing, and you must choose the proper maintenance procedures to keep from losing your lawn to excessive thatch buildup or pests.