Although zoysia grass, Zoysia japonica, originated in warm Asian climates, it can tolerate the cold found in the American Southeast. It is extremely dense and slow-growing, so it requires little mowing and overwhelms weeds. Zoysia grass lawns and turf wear well and can take full sun and partial shade.
Zoysia grass plugs spread about 6 inches a year, so two or three years are required for plugs form turf. Its slow growth also means that it recovers slowly from damage caused by overuse.
Water and Fertilizer
During prolonged droughts, irrigate zoysia grass every other day during the summer. Apply at least ¾ inch of water at the first sign of drought. Water early in the morning.
The Alabama Extension Service recommends fertilizing zoysia grass in April, June and August. Apply a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10, 13-13-13 or 16-4-8 at the rate of 2 to 4 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. To improve cold tolerance, zoysia grass in sandy soil may need 1 pound of potassium per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year applied in September--use 15-0-15, 10-20-20, 16-0-44 or 0-24-24 fertilizer.
Mowing and Thatch Control
During the summer, mow zoysia grasses once a week. Mow to between ½ and 1 inch high using a reel mower. Zoysia grass will develop a layer of brown or black thatch, dead organic matter, between the surface and the soil. Uncontrolled thatch prevents air and water from getting to the roots, and it harbors insects and disease. Remove thatch deeper than ¾ inch from April through August. Remove thatch with a vertical mower, power rake, aerator or spring attachment to a mower. After dethatching. apply 10 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet to help the remaining thatch decay. After aeration, a light top dressing of soil or sand will help control thatch.
Insects and Disease
Billbugs and namatodes like to feed on the roots of zoysia grass. Insecticides will kill both. Contact your agricultural extension service to see what USDA-approved insecticide works best in your area. Proper watering and fertilizing will prevent infections by dollar spot, brown patch and rust.
Varieties of Zoysiagrass
Japanese zoysia grass, Zoysia japonica, is coarse, hairy and light green. It grows faster than other zoysia grasses and takes the cold well. It is the only zoysia grass that can be established from seeds.
Dark green Meyer zoysia grass, Zoysia japonica Meyer, a hybrid of Japanese zoysia grass. is the earliest zoysia grass to turn green in the spring and the last to go dormant in the fall.
Fine, dense Mantrella zoysia grass, Zoysia matrella, resembles Bermuda grass, and it is recommended for a high-quality lawn if maintenance is not an issue.
Mascarene grass, Zoysia tenuifolia, has a fine texture, and it wears well, but it develops excessive thatch, making it look puffy. It is the least cold-tolerant cultivar.
Fine-textured, dark green and dense, emerald zoysia grass grows thatch easily and is susceptible to dollar spot, brown patch, and leaf spot diseases.
The fast-growing Belaire hybrid has coarse leaves. El Toro zoysia grass resembles the Meyer cultivar but grows faster. It has good color in cooler temperatures and doesn't accumulate as much thatch. Cashmere Zoysiagrass resembles Eeerald in density, but is not as stiff or bristle-like.