If you’re trying to figure out what to do about your lawn, you’ve probably heard about Zoysia grass. According to the ads it’s the lawn of the future since it doesn’t require much water, chokes out weeds, is insect resistant, hard wearing and literally heals itself. Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? Undoubtedly there are lots of advantages to Zoysia grass, but let’s take a look at the total picture.
Where did it come from?
Zoysia grass is originally from the temperate areas of Asia and is native to Japan, China and Southeast Asia. There are records of it being in common use as far back as the 12th century and today it’s commonly used as sod and used on almost all golf courses in the region. Zoysia grass is believed to have come to America in the early 20th century from Manila and for that reason is still often called Manila grass.
So, does Zoysia grass do what the ads say it does?
Zoysia grass does have these characteristics.
- Drought tolerant. Most Zoysia grasses can survive on the natural rainfall in most temperate regions. It has an extensive root system that grows quite deep so watering is seldom required.
- Cuts mowing requirement dramatically. Zoysia grass grows by sending out runners or ‘stolons’ both above and below ground so it grows and spreads by expanding sideways rather than growing upwards like other grasses. This is also what gives Zoysia the ability to choke out weeds and other plants looking to take root in your lawn and what give it that nice soft carpet like feel underfoot.
- Grows in all kind of soil. Zoysia will grow in all kinds of soils and at various pH levels as well. It’s also very tolerant to saline, making it a good choice for lawns near the ocean or salt water.
- Minimizes chemical use. Zoysia is naturally resistant to diseases and most insects, so you don’t have to spend time and money on pesticides that could be hazardous to you, your family or your pets.
Sounds great, what could be the downside?
Unfortunately, Zoysia does have some negative characteristics as well.
- Zoysia doesn’t like cold. Although most of the ads will tell you that Zoysia grows in all climate zones, most lawn care specialists will tell you that Zoysia just doesn’t grow well in areas where the temperature get close to zero. Remember where it originated.
- Zoysia doesn’t like shade. If you have trees or your property is shaded during a large part of the day, Zoysia will not grow well.
- Zoysia grows extremely slowly. If you are wanting to dramatically change your lawn using Zoysia, you're probably going to need to resod. Zoysia grows extremely slowly from seed and even when you use plugs to get it started, you’re going to need to go through a number of growing seasons before seeing significant changes in your lawn.
- Because of the way it spreads (rather than growing), Zoysia is extremely intrusive. You need to be sure you have solid edging around your garden beds to prevent it migrating into them. As well, your neighbor may not be happy to have your Zoysia grass taking over his lawn or gardens.
- Zoysia tends to thatch, so you need to aerate your lawn on a regular basis.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted by email at - [email protected]