Centipede Vs. Amzoy Grass

Overview

Both warm-season grasses that are their greenest and most vigorous of growth in the warmth of summer, centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) and Amazoy zoysia grass (Zoysia japonica Z-52) are two turf grass options. Both are suited only to the mildest winter regions of the U.S. Neither is exceptionally fast-growing, like Bermuda grass, but ultimately they both create an attractive, dense mat of foliage that isn't high-maintenance.

History

Frank Meyer was a Dutch-born American and plant explorer for the U.S. government. In 1906 he brought back seed of zoysia grass from Korea and in 1916 he returned from southern China with seeds of centipede grass. A strain of zoysia grass was selected for its fine color and fast growth rate, assigned the cultivar name Z-52, which later was simply referred to as Meyer after its release in the 1950s. Meyer zoysia grass today is the standard for which all other zoysia grass strains are compared. Amazoy is a trademark name for Meyer and is the "miracle grass" of advertising fame.

Geography

Centipede grass is best suited only to the lighter-textured soils in regions with mild winters where there is minimal freezing, correlating to U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 and warmer. According to Texas A&M University's website, centipede grass is most commonly used in the American South from Texas to South Carolina and Florida. Amazoy zoysia grass is more cold-tolerant and grown across USDA hardiness zones 6 and warmer, which includes most of the southern half of the continental United States.

Features

Centipede grass never truly goes dormant in winter. Slow-growing, this light green, fine-textured grass needs less fertilization compared with zoysia grass. Centipede grass forms a dense lawn requiring little mowing but does not tolerate foot traffic well, such as for athletic fields. It also sustains considerable damage or dies when temps in winter dip as low as 5 degrees F. Amazoy zoysia goes dormant in cool temps of late fall to mid-spring, when it physically turns a thatch-tan color but remains a dense turf. It has a coarse texture and is slow-growing but faster than other strains of zoysia. Amazoy and centipede grass grow at roughly the same rate in a head-to-head comparison.

Growing Considerations

Centipede grass excels in acidic, sandy soils with good drainage. Texas A&M comments that it is not as drought-tolerant as often reported; irrigation in hot summer dry spells greatly improves its visual appeal and vigor. On soils above pH 7.0, yellowing of blades is likely. It grows best in full to partial sun, perhaps a little dappled shade--the more sun exposure, the better overall. Amazoy zoysia is extremely drought-tolerant, according to Texas A&M University, although it turns beige until rainfall returns. Amazoy handle heavy foot traffic, but once it is damaged, tends to take a long time to recover and rejuvenate into a lush, perfect turf. Zoysia grasses tolerate oceanside salt spray, too. Amazoy is best in a partial to full sun exposure in any well-drained soil: sand to clay, any pH.

Maintenance Issues

Generally speaking, centipede grass is referred to as the "lazy man's lawn" as it needs little maintenance in comparison to other lawn grasses. Bob Polomski of Clemson University comments on the school's website that centipede grass does not tolerate mismanagement. Keep it mowed at 1 to 2 inches in height, control thatch buildup, do not over-apply nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizers, and keep the soil acidic. Amazoy zoysia is mowed 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in height. Keep in mind zoysia grasses take two years after planting to become dense turf carpets. Polomski also notes that zoysia grass develops thatch buildup at a faster rate than centipede grass. Thatch is the accumulation of old stems and roots that shed as the grass grow, decaying very slowly (unlike clippings from mowing) and buildup atop the soil.

Keywords: warm-season grasses, choosing lawn grass, zoysia grass, centipede grass

About this Author

James Burghardt became a full-time writer in 2008 with articles appearing on Web sites like eHow and GardenGuides. He's gardened and worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.