Zoysia grasses are warm season grasses native to China, Japan and other
parts of Southeast Asia. The species was named to commemorate an 18th
century Austrian botanist, Karl von Zois.
In 1911, Zoysia matrella was
introduced into the United States from Manila by a USDA botanist, C.
V. Piper. Because of its origin the grass was commonly called Manila
Piper described the grass as: abundant on or near the seashore in the
Philippine Islands. When closely clipped, it made a beautiful lawn according
to Piper's notes. He suggested that the grass had unusual promise as
a lawn grass along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coast of Florida.
Zoysia japonica, sometimes called "Japanese lawn grass" or
"Korean lawn grass", is a coarser textured, but more cold hardy
species than Zoysia matrella.
Zoysia japonica was introduced into the
United States in 1895 from the Manchurian Province of China. In the
United States, Zoysia japonica could be expected to do very well as far
north as Maryland. It is a seeded variety of Zoysia.
The third species of Zoysia used for turf is called Korean velvet grass
or Mascarene grass, Zoysia tenuifolia. It is a very fine textured species,
but is the least cold tolerant of the three species. Zoysia tenuifolia
is native to the Far East and was introduced in the U.S. from the Mascarene
Islands. In the U.S. it is used in southern California as a low growing
Zoysiagrass is extremely drought tolerant. Although it does turn straw
colored under severe drought conditions, it has the capacity to respond
to subsequent irrigation or rainfall. Its water requirements are similar
to those of Bermudagrass.
The leaf blades of Zoysia grass are among the
first to roll under drought conditions, thus it tends to conserve moisture
more effectively than other species. Zoysia grass also has a deep root
system allowing it to more effectively extract water from greater soil
Zoysiagrass is nearly as salt tolerant as Bermudagrass. It is widely
grown along sandy seashores where drainage is adequate. Zoysiagrass does
not tolerate poorly drained soils whether they are saline or otherwise.
Zoysia grasses are among the most wear tolerant turf grasses. However,
their slow rate of growth gives them very poor recuperative potential.
Shade tolerance: fair/good
Cold tolerance: good
Rate of establishment: slow
Fertilization: regular feeding
Watering: weekly regular, but will tolerate some drought conditions
Mowing height: 3/4" — 2"
First mowing should be done while the Zoysia is still dormant. Mow at
about the 1" height to remove as much dead top growth as possible.
This should only be done after danger of a hard freeze has passed. The
dormant grass blades acts as insulation.
Pests: Zoysia patch, mole crickets, grubs, sod webworms, armyworms
NOT RECOMMENDED IN COOL SEASON AREAS. Do yourself and your neighbors
a favor and do not plant this grass where cool season grasses dominate
home lawns. Very invasive root system that will crossover into your neighbors
bluegrass lawn. The bluegrass will remain green most of the year, but
the Zoysia turns brown as soon as temperatures cool and does not turn
green again until late spring. This makes your neighbors bluegrass lawn
look like it has large irregular shaped dead spots all winter and into
spring. Should be made illegal to plant in the northern zones.
See REMOVING ZOYSIAGRASS FROM YOUR LAWN
for additional information.
Newspaper ads touting
the advantages of Zoysiagrass sometimes appear in cities where
cool season grasses are the norm. These ads speak of how great
Zoysiagrass is (or they use some other trade name). The ads
include headlines such as "cut water bills and mowing as much as 2/3," "no
need to spend money on dangerous chemicals," "no need to dig up old grass," "chokes
Well, it sounds like an almost perfect solution
to your lawn woes. In reality, it is only asking for more problems.
Zoysiagrass is great for warm climates and in a few cases in transitional
zones. But that's about all.
Looking at some of these headlines:
First, no grass will stay green in extreme drought
conditions without additional water. Some are better than others
at withstanding drought. Zoysia is one. So is St. Augustine, Bermudagrass,
and Bahiagrass, but that doesn't mean these grasses are the answer
to all situations.
The reason you don't have to
remove your old lawn is because of it's invasive nature. It will
spread into your flower beds; it will spread into your neighbors
lawn; and, it will turn straw brown after the first heavy frost
and remain brown well into April or later depending on your climate long
after most cool season grasses have greened up.
It will choke out crabgrass, but then any thick,
healthy lawn, will choke out crabgrass as well as other weeds.
They don't mention that Zoysiagrass is more prone to heavy thatch
buildup, or that the common broadleaf herbicide found in many weed
and feed products can seriously damage the grass if used at the
wrong time of year.
All chemicals can be dangerous, including table
salt if its misused. Following label directions, most lawn chemicals
are safe to use, even with children and pets.