Zoysia grasses offer a new option in low-maintenance lawns for Australian home owners.
The best varieties are valued for their ability to form a lush, hard-wearing, high-quality turf when managed correctly. Their slow growth reduces the need for mowing and their nitrogen requirement is lower than that of green couch (Cynodon dactylon).
The slow growth of zoysia grasses, however, is a double-edged sword – it reduces the frequency of mowing, but it also means that zoysia grasses take more time to repair if damaged, and the longer commercial growth cycle makes the sod more expensive.
Zoysia leaves have high silica levels, a characteristic that makes them extremely wear-tolerant compared with other warm-season turf grasses. However, the growth rate of zoysias slows their recovery, making them best suited to intermittent use, rather than constant, heavy use.
Characteristics of Zoysia Grass:
- A warm-season grass that grows best between 80 and 90 degrees.
- Greens up early in the spring.
- Spreads by rhizomes and stolons.
- Performs best in full sun but will tolerate moderate shade. Will not grow in heavy shade.
- Goes dormant and turns brown in a cold winter but ill stay green all year in warm climates.
- Good salt tolerance making it a valuable grass in coastal areas.
- Drought tolerant with moderate irrigation requirements.
- Forms a very dense turf that looks beautiful when mowed low.
- It is a slow spreader, up to 6 inches in a growing season.
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.
The hard-wearing leaves of zoysia will tend to blunt mower blades, which need to be kept sharp to prevent unsightly, straw-coloured, ragged edges on the cut leaves.