Zoysia Grass? Is it a good thing or not?
I wrote this article about Zoysia grass and sent it to my newsletter list. Living in the north I truly am not much of an expert on Zoysia grass so I did a little research to write this article. But once I sent the article I received feed back from my subsribers. Some it very positive about Zoysia grass, so I’d like to share those comments with you.
This is what I originally wrote.
That depends who you ask. I know the advertisements for Zoysia grass make it sound absolutely wonderful, and some people who have purchased and planted it will you tell that it is. But what many people don’t realize is that come fall, as early as October, it will turn golden brown and stay that way all winter.
I had a customer that used Zoysia to fill it parts of his lawn and he loved it. However, when I saw his yard during winter I thought somebody had sprayed half of his yard with weed killer. It wasn’t just brown, it was golden brown! I could have easily set it on fire. He didn’t mind that at all. But I thought it looked ridiculous. In a warmer zone it might have been different.
Zoysia does have good qualities. It’s much more drought resistant than the cool season grasses that we are used to here in the north. It grows quite well under hot and dry conditions. Once established it fills in and makes a really nice, dense turf. During the dog days of summer when our cool season grasses aren’t so green, Zoysia stays green and healthy. Zoysia requires a lot less water than most other cool season grasses.
Downsides to Zoysia?
Our cool season grasses look good for about 10 months of the year. Zoysia really only looks good from mid May through October. Establishing Zoysia is no easy task because you can’t just spread seed like you do with cool season grasses. You have to insert plugs and you first must get rid of all the existing grass and weeds before you plant the plugs.
Zoysia does not do well in the shade and once you have it in your lawn, it’s not easy to change your mind and get rid of it. You can spray it with a non selective herbicide, but if you don’t want to do that, you’ll have a challenge on your hands. I think have two concerns about Zoysia which is why I’d never use it in my lawn.
One, I wouldn’t want my lawn looking golden, golden brown all winter. And two, unless you plant your entire lawn with Zoysia, it’s looks really odd because in winter and summer both, Zoysia is just a completely different grass than what you probably have now.
This is what others had to say.
Hello Mike, I thank you for all of your great articles on yard care, I really appreciate the knowledge they contain. Your article on Zoysia Grass was also nice to read, but I wish to respond to it.
I bought my home in Philadelphia in 1994. When I bought my home, most of the back yard was Zoysia. The areas that weren’t were partially shaded during the day. At first I did not like it, even though walking on it was like a carpet from it being so thick. It was first to die and last to come back each year.
I found that the weed protection it provides is far superior to other grasses.
Over the many years I have owned my home it has creeped around to the front yard. I do dislike the browning nature of the grass, but love the weed preventative nature of it. My yard skirt is next to a busy road that gets exposed to a lot of road salt during the winters. The grass in said skirt is always weed prone because of the poor soil quality. Improving the soil is a losing battle, so I have planted patches of Zoysia throughout the runs next to the road. Zoysia likes to creep and will overtake the weed prone skirts.
I have come to accept the dead nature of the grass during the cool months because it is so good at preventing weeds. I really like not having to do much to keep the yard green during the summer without worrying about weeds. All said, I like the nature of the grass even though it dies early and grows late each year. Zoysia may be an ugly grass over much of the year but makes for an easy care lawn. I hate having to battle weeds and Zoysia makes that battle a non issue.
Again, I wish to thank you for your efforts to expand the knowledge of gardening and lawn care. -Phil
Thank you Phil from Philadelphia! Interesting comments from somebody in the north who really appreciates some of the better qualities of Zoysia grass.
From Central Virginia
Hi Mike, I enjoyed reading your article on Zoysia grass, but I respectfully disagree with one of the points.
I live in Central Virginia. For the last few summers we have had limited rainfall in the summer. Consequently, the fescue (in full sun) goes dormant in July and doesn’t recover until late Sept-Early Oct when we begin our Sept-Oct-Nov fertilizing. Even with irrigation, one cannot water enough to keep the fescue from going dormant. So the question here is when do you want to have your grass look brown? During the peak summer months (fescue) or with the first frost (zoysia)?
Best regards, Chris
Thank you Chris from Virginia! It is interesting to hear from people in cold climates with positive comments about Zoysia grass. As I said in my article my customer here in Ohio loved his Zoysia grass.
Kathy, from Illinois
RE: zoysia grass.
We have an acre of it and we love it! Zone 6a IL.
More PRO points you might want to add to a future article:
*It requires about 1/3 the mowing as any other turf grass. *It feels like a thick plush carpet when you walk on it. People always remark on how good it feels. *If you have dogs or active children, they won’t wear bare spots in it. *It chokes out weeds. Less weedkiller needed. Less fertilizer needed. Better for the environment. *If you mow it very short in early spring, it greens up faster. Use the cuttings to mulch the vegetable garden. *You do not need to kill existing grass to start plugs of zoysia. It will soon out-compete what’s there. *We think of the golden brown dormant color as the color of money saved on water, weedkiller, gasoline and mowing time. CONS *It creeps into flower beds. But it’s easy to pull out and you can use the pieces to fill in bare spots. Thanks for listening! I enjoy your articles. Kathy from Illinois
Thank you Kathy! More interesting and informative comments from somebody in the north.
From Karen in Georgia
Hi, Mike! Very interesting article on zoysia grass.
Here’s an opinion from a southerner (Atlanta suburb):
We laid zoysia sod around 4 years ago in our backyard. The front yards in the subdivision were all sodded with bermuda. We hate our bermuda grass! So we’ve LOVED the dense barefoot carpet-like zoysia in the back (also, weeds don’t grow thru zoysia as they do thru the thin bermuda).
Yes, it turns brown in the winter, but then so does the bermuda (and in fact, most yards in the Atlanta area ARE warm-season grasses for the reasons you mentioned, so it’s not odd-looking as it is to you from the north).
When we laid our zoysia in the back, we couldn’t afford to do the entire yard in zoysia, so we had to lay some bermuda along the edges. We’d been told that while bermuda is more aggressive, the zoysia will eventually win out, because it’s denser and will choke out the bermuda. Now 4 years later, I can say that it seems to be true–our zoysia is slowly, very slowly, taking over the bermuda, much to our delight!
So here’s one zoysia lawn lover who would do it all over again, if I had to choose between zoysia and bermuda!
I enjoy your newsletters! thanks . . .
Karen in Flowery Branch, GA
Thank you Karen from Georgia! I was getting so many positive comments from people in the north I was hoping to hear from somebody from the south. I’ve seen Bermuda grass and I did not like it all so I can see why you’d be so happy with Zoysia grass.
This has been interesting, educational and enlightening for me thanks to my dedicated and loyal subscribers!
I love you guys and gals! -Mike McGroarty