Zoysia grass makes a very nice lawn when managed right. If you are lucky enough to live where zoysia grows you can have a beautiful lawn that is relatively low maintenance. It has a soft, spongy texture that feels nice on bare feet. Wear and drought tolerant, has very few problems with insects and diseases, and forms a dense turf that keeps weeds out.
This species is a native of Japan, China and Southeast Asia. Z. japonica is often called Korean or Japanese Lawngrass. A warm-season grass that will grow throughout the South and into the transition zone. It is the most cold tolerant of all warm-season grasses but not a good choice for Northern lawns.
Zoysia is a durable turfgrass that can withstand wear but is slow to recover from damage. It can be used on golf courses, soccer, baseball and softball fields - but its slow rate of recovery makes it less than ideal for football fields.
I have seen zoysia grass planted on golf courses in a buffer. Many golf courses in the Transition Zone grow bermudagrass fairways and bentgrass greens. Bermudagrass is a very aggressive spreader that will invade bentgrass greens while zoysia spreads slowly. Zoysia grass can be planted in an apron around the greens and on bunker faces to slow the spread of creeping bermudagrass onto greens and into the sand bunkers.
Characteristics of Zoysia Grass:
Zoysia is a very heavy thatch producer. It should be dethatched every 2 to 3 years or when the thatch layer is over a 1/2 inch deep. Zoysia grows best with moderate nitrogen fertilizer applications, too much will cause rapid thatch buildup. Proper lawn maintenance practices will keep thatch in check. Wait until it is actively growing to dethatch.
A very nice feature of warm season grasses is they can be mowed short - giving them a very attractive look. Mow between 1 and 2 inches every 5 to 7 days based on the 1/3 Rule. Short and frequent cuttings with sharp blades will yield a beautiful lawn. Reel mowers cut zoysia the cleanest but a rotary mower with sharp blades will do the job. Cutting zoysia with dull blades isn't pretty...No need to collect grass clippings.Recycling them actually improves lawn quality and they will not contribute to thatch buildup.
Raise mowing height up to 2 inches in the fall to allow the grass plants to harden off (acclimate or prepare) for the winter.
Zoysia grass is drought tolerant but will turn a brownish color and stop growing during dry periods. It needs at least 1 inch of water/rain per week to keep it growing vigorously. Infrequent, deep soakings promotes deep roots and a healthy lawn.
Wait until after the last frost and at least 75% of your lawn is green before you start fertilizing, then apply 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet.
Fertilize every 4 to 8 weeks until the end of August and apply no more than 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per growing season. Zoysia performs best with low to moderate fertilization. Use a fertilizer ratio of 4:1:2 unless soil test results indicate differently.
A helpful fertilizing tip from the N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service:
Weeds can be a problem when starting a new zoysia lawn because it is slow to fill in - taking up to a year. But once established, it makes such a thick lawn that weeds are not a problem.
Billbugs and white grubs are the major insect pests. It is a good idea to monitor for insects but treating with insecticides is not usually necessary.
Brown patch and rust diseases can cause problems but are usually minor and related to poor management practices.
There are three species of and zoysia grass that are planted in quality lawns.
Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella and Zoysia trenuifolia are the lawn species. Several improved cultivars have been developed.
Japanese lawngrass (Z. japonica) is very cold tolerant and the only species that can be grown from seed.
Zoysia matrella has finer textured leaves and forms a denser turf than Z. japonica but is not as cold tolerant.
Zoysia tenuifolia is a very fine textured species but is a very heavy thatch producer.