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Hi Tom –
Zoysia grass is one of the most common warm season grasses in the state of Florida. It will grow most vigorously during hot months, going dormant (and brown) in cooler weather. It is suitable for temperate areas that don’t suffer hard-freezes. Here’s how to care for your Zoysia lawn.
Encourage deep, vigorous root growth. It may be gravity that directs the growth of grass roots, but providing the conditions that stimulate that growth guarantees that you’ll get it. That means mowing to proper height, fertilizing, composting, aerating and, yes, watering. Establishing strong roots saves water and increases drought tolerance.
Cutting grass too short early in the season may be attractive and save you work but it can sap your lawn’s health. Longer spears of grass increase photosynthesis and water retention. Longer grass shades soil, helping to keep it cool, and inhibits germination of weed seed. Mow at 7-10 day intervals and keep it 1.0″ to 2.5″ tall.
If you must water (and in most places you must if you want your grass green), do it effectively.
The amount of water your lawn needs depends on the type of grass you grow and your soil conditions. Zoysia lawns require 1.0 inch of moisture a week and can be watered every 5 to 7 days, depending on soil type (sandy soil should be watered more frequently). Make sure the water penetrates deeply, at least five inches or more.
Feed your lawn every four to six weeks during the growing season. Use an organic fertilizer designed to deliver the nitrogen that grasses need to stay green. Fertilizing your lawn helps insure vigorous, healthy rooting. This allows your grass to make the best use of the water it gets and prevents browning.
Dr. Earth® Lawn Fertilizer (9-3-5) promotes a hardy root system and controls thatch buildup. Best of all, it contains mycorrhizae, beneficial fungi that enhance your lawn’s ability to absorb nutrients and water, to ensure that nutrients are made available to the grass roots, even under high stress conditions. Each 40 lb bag covers 4,400 sq ft.
A spring application of compost will nourish your lawn’s soil and help to insure good moisture retention. Compost can help smother emerging weeds as well as introduce microbial activity that keeps your soil healthy.
Note: Zoysia grass is very susceptible to iron chlorosis. Look for grass that is shading towards yellow, not the rich green that we lawn lovers prefer. If found, mix 1 oz Liquinox Iron & Zinc per gallon of water and apply as a foliar spray over your lawn. A second application may be necessary two weeks later.
Aerate your lawn to avoid soil compaction. Compacted soil encourages thatch to build and water to runoff. Aerating is a form of root prune that stimulates strong growth. Small lawns can be aerated using a manual garden aerator or garden fork, big yards will require renting a power aerator.
Hope it helps!