Zoysia is a warm season grass that is adapted to many Kansas lawns. It forms a dense sod from aboveground and underground runners. Zoysia is heat- and drought-resistant and also winter hardy. One objection is that it greens up later in the spring than bluegrass and tall fescue and turns brown in the fall after a hard frost. The trade-off is its heat tolerance during the summer.
Zoysia grows best in full sun. It will tolerate moderate shade, but the turf will be thinner in the shady areas. Zoysia becomes a chlorotic yellow color when grown on alkaline soils, which limits its adaptability in much of western Kansas.
Zoysia is usually planted by plugs, sprigs, sod or strips of sod. While zoysia seed is available, it is questionable if a quality lawn can be produced. Zoysia does not reproduce true to type from seed and seedlings are variable.
Zoysia should be planted early in the growing season so it will have time to develop a good root system before frost. Late plantings may winterkill while early plantings may be damaged by a late freeze. Plugs and sprigs should be planted between late April and June. May is usually the best time for planting. Sod may be laid somewhat later in the season, as long as there is enough time for the sod to knit into the soil before the end of the growing season. Determine which planting method to use - read more.
Zoysia is mowed shorter than bluegrass or tall fescue because it is a creeping grass with a different type of growth than cool-season grasses. Mowing height can be adjusted according to type of turf use and level of maintenance. the shorter the grass is maintained, the more frequently it must be mowed.
Watering and fertilizing will increase mowing frequency. A satisfactory balance must be achieved between the three cultural practices.
Zoysia is a tough, thick fibrous grass requiring a sharp blade and a heavy-duty lawnmower. Blades need to be inspected and sharpened frequently. A reel mower is preferred for zoysia, especially for close-cut turf, but the grass must not be allowed to grow tall between mowings. A rotary mower can be used for 1½-inch-high turf. Vary the direction of mowing each time the grass is mowed. Clippings may be caught for neat appearance, but catching clippings does not prevent thatch. Mowing height and frequency are more important thatch prevention than clipping removal.
Zoysia is relatively drought tolerant does not need frequent watering. Older lawns that need frequent watering probably have excessive thatch. Watering too often causes shallow roots, thatch, and disease. It is much better to water thoroughly every week or two than to water several times per week. Regular watering will be needed only during hot, dry weather. Good judgment is better than watering on a fixed schedule.
Morning is the best time to water. Late evenings and night watering can favor disease development. If evening watering is most convenient, turn the water off 30 minutes before sundown so the grass can dry off before nighttime.
Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and then wait as long as possible before watering again. This encourages deep rooting and helps prevent thatch and disease. It takes two to four hours to soak the soil, depending on soil conditions.
Zoysia does not grow well in wet or poorly drained soils. Clay soils present a special problem because they do not drain well. Zoysia roots may rot away in water-logged soils and then only surface roots remain.
Because zoysia is a warm season grass, it is fertilized during the warm months - May through August. It should not be fertilized in the fall or early spring. Zoysia lawns should receive no more than 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per growing season. It is best to space several 1-pound applications four to six weeks apart. Even less may be applied for low-maintenance lawns. Phosphorus and potash should be applied only if indicated by the results of a soil test. Lime or sulfur should never be added to the soil unless their need is determined by a soil test.