Zoysia was brought to the United States in 1900 from Korea as a heat-tolerant variety that would grow well in the southeastern United States throughout long, hot summers, according to the University of Missouri. Although many homeowners prefer to establish a zoysia lawn through sod, a less expensive method of establishing zoysia is through a series of plugs. Plugs are small squares of zoysia sod that are planted in holes in the turf. Once the plugs are established, they spread rapidly to fill in the bare lawn.
Test your soil by submitting a soil sample to a soil-testing facility. Collect the sample by digging with a shovel one quart of soil each from up to 10 locations across your lawn. Mix this soil in a bucket and spread it over newspaper to dry. Collect a cupful of soil in a bag, and take it to your nearest county extension office. For a small fee, agents with the office submit the sample to a soil-testing facility run by the nearest agricultural college. Testing results are typically available within three weeks.
Break up your lawn soil to a depth of 12 inches using a rototiller. Remove any rocks, sticks or large debris from your yard.
Spread soil amendments over your soil in a four-inch layer. The amendments should be based on recommendations and amounts made by your soil testing results in step 1. Common amendments for a lawn include organic material such as compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure and either lime to raise the pH of soil or sulfur to lower the pH.
Mix the amendments into your soil with the rototiller.
Smooth the surface of your soil with a landscaping rake so that the lawn is a uniform size with no large bumps or dips.
Rake a granulated starter fertilizer (12-12-12) into the upper one inch of soil. Use eight pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
Remove cores of soil from your yard that are the same size as Zoysia plugs with a Zoysia plugger or a bulb planter. Space the cores every six to 12 inches.
Purchase zoysia plugs from a nursery that specializes in lawn grasses. To figure out how many plugs you will need, measure the square footage of your lawn. Buy the same number of plugs as square feet in your lawn if you plan to place zoysia plugs every 12 inches. Multiply this number by two if you plan to place the plugs every six inches.
Place Zoysia plugs into the hole left behind by the Zoysia plugger. The tops of the plugs should be flush with the soil line.
Tamp the plugs into the holes with your foot.
Cover the lawn with a layer of seed-free straw to help hold the soil in place, and keep the sprigs moist until the grass can become established. Water the plugs daily with up to ¼ inch of water per one inch of soil four times a day until the roots become established. You can measure the water amount that you are using with a rain gauge. Then gradually cut back water to one inch of water per one inch of lawn per week. Your lawn should become completely established within two years.