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Zoysia Grass Care (Proper Maintenance to Grow Zoysia)

A thick carpet of zoysia grass

Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass that is popular in the southern portion of the U.S. because of its lovely emerald green hue and resistance to foot traffic. Although zoysia grass takes longer to establish itself than other warm-season grasses, it does feature excellent heat and drought tolerance and is not especially vulnerable to grassy weeds, insect pests, or fungal diseases as many other turf grasses are. You can rely on the following tips to keep your zoysia grass healthy.

What Is Zoysia Grass?

A perennial warm-season grass, zoysia is native to Japan and Korea, but it is widely found today throughout most of Asia and is popular as a lawn grass in both Australia, and the Southern U.S. Property owners favor zoysia lawns for their relative low-maintenance care needs, durability, and beauty. For these reasons, many golf courses also favor using zoysia grass. 

Unlike many warm-season grasses that struggle in transition zones, zoysia tends to do well in these more northern areas, given some extra care. There are several zoysia species, but Zoysia japonica and Zoysia matrella are primarily used for lawns. Some zoysia varieties have improved cold tolerance, which makes them particularly good warm-season grasses to plant in transition zones.

Tips for Healthy Zoysia Grass

Use the following care tips to maintain your healthy zoysia lawn. 

Fertilization

Before fertilizing your zoysia lawn, you should do some soil testing. A soil test will tell you what nutrients your soil is lacking. If your soil test shows nutrient deficiencies, you can choose a fertilizer bag with the nutrients it needs. Organic fertilizer may be your best choice if you need to make soil amendments. You should apply two to four pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn for a healthy zoysia lawn (use more for sandy soils). Plan to fertilize your zoysia lawn every four weeks from May through August–during its active growing season–to achieve a healthy, dense lawn.

Weed Control

Once soil temperatures reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you can apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your zoysia grass to prevent grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds. A pre-emergent herbicide will prevent weed seeds from germinating. For weed control of existing weeds, you can apply a post-emergent herbicide that’s safe for warm season grasses like zoysia to kill most early spring and early summer annual weeds and broadleaf weeds. For reliable weed control for zoysia lawns, consider products like Blindside Herbicide, Certainty, and Fahrenheit

Mowing

Mow your zoysia grass so that it reaches a height between one and two inches. Dull mower blades can make your lawn appear raggedy and yellow. Sharpen your mower blades each season to keep your lawn mowed for best results.

Disease / Fungal Disease

Warm season grasses like Zoysia are susceptible to the fungal disease called large patch. This disease is caused by excessive nitrogen, overwatering, and a thick thatch layer. To prevent this and other diseases, ensure that you don’t over-fertilize. Use a power rake to remove excess thatch build-up as a reliable disease control measure. Also, be sure that your soil is well draining. Don’t overwater your lawn; water deeply in the early morning.

Shade Tolerance

Zoysia grass prefers plenty of sunlight but it will tolerate light shade better than some other warm season grasses. Innovation zoysia shade is known to tolerate partial shade best.

Drought Tolerance

Zoysia lawns tolerate drought and heat well. Ideally, your zoysiagrass lawn should have about one inch of water per week. Be sure to water your lawn deeply to promote a deep root system. You can alleviate the compaction of your soil with core aeration to improve soil moisture retention.

Pest Control

Zoysia lawns can be plagued by grubs just as other lawns. Good insect control is a must to protect your beautiful lawn. Best pest management practices include the application of pest control products as needed. Pests like grubs can eat through grass roots, effectively killing the grass. Mole crickets can also be a threat to zoysia lawns. Most effective pest control products will protect your grass for three months after their application but check the label carefully before applying it to your entire lawn.

Zoysia Lawns FAQs

How do you take care of a zoysia lawn?

Zoysia lawns form a dense carpet of grass that should be medium green in color when healthy. Proper zoysia care requires regular fertilizing during its growing season, mowing, and performing weed control, disease control, and pest control measures to maintain its health. Although a drought tolerant lawn, zoysia lawns should be watered routinely (about an inch per week) to help it thrive.

Is zoysia grass hard to maintain?

Zoysia lawns are regarded as low maintenance. They do not require extensive weed control or are especially vulnerable to pests or disease in normal circumstances. For these reasons, golf courses often favor this lawn grass, which is resistant to foot traffic too.

What are the disadvantages of zoysia grass?

By the middle of fall, especially in transition zones, zoysia lawns can begin to lose their vibrant green, which is a downside of the grass. Zoysia is prone to thatch issues, so don’t allow a thick layer of thatch to build up. Finally, zoysia is also slow to establish itself.

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