Q: I just bought a home and now I have about 75 percent Zoysia grass and have never had it before. Previous owner had it cut at two inches and used a ruler to measure the height. It looked a bit scarred or scalped. What is the best way to cut it and care for a zoysia lawn to keep it healthy?
A.J. of Carlyle
A: Zoysia grass is a warm season grass that thrives during hot dry weather, but goes dormant and turns brown when the leaves on trees turn color in the fall and stay that way until the daffodils bloom in spring. This grass only grows when the air temperatures are above freezing both day and night.
Zoysia should ideally be cut no higher than two inches. If you allow this grass to grow taller you will notice that the lower parts of the plant will turn tan or brown and appear scalped as this grass is thick when mowed. At this time of year, you would be cutting this lawn for the last time. Some people might even spray the turf with a green turf colorant for the winter so it appears to a ‘natural green color.’
Fertilizing would be done in the spring when the air temperatures rise. With a 10-5-5 fertilizer, you would need to apply 15 to 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet for the warm growing season. You could break this amount down to make one-third of the application in early spring, a second in late spring and the last application in early summer.
For your sparse areas, you would need to plug with two-inch plugs about every six to 12 inches in a row going in both directions. The closeness will depend upon how fast you want the grass to fill in. Twelve inches would require two years. A Meyer Zoysia (Z-12) is preferred varieties as they are the superior ones and takes on the characteristics of a bluegrass lawn. There is another variety named Emerald, which is hardy only in the deep south plant zones of the United States. One of the big advantages of a Zoysia lawn is resistant to turf insects and diseases that affect other grasses.
Zoysia does have one drawback; it will grow in a southwestern direction faster and can invade planting areas of other ornamentals and will be a problem to control.
Q: I have a small area between Illinois 159 and a sidewalk that I would like to raise grass and not have to worry about the salt that is found in the snow when the state plows the road during the winter and places the snow on this area as the grass usually dies. Please help.
B. D. of Hecker
A: The above grass — Zoysia — would be your remedy as this grass resists salt-damage.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Department, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things to do this week:
- Keep plants, especially trees well-watered until soil freezes.
- Rake leaves off turf areas to prevent them from matting down and smothering the grass areas.
- Have soil or compost ready for mounding your roses when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
- Asparagus top growth should not be removed until the foliage turns yellow.
- Remove plant debris from the vegetable and flower beds to prevent overwintering insects and diseases.