4 Reasons Your Zoysia Grass Has Declined

By: Jeff

Most of our customers are shocked to learn that Zoysia grass takes a different type of maintenance, irrigation, fertilization and pest control program than the normal Floratam grass would take. I learned about this as a young man from my father, who helped write the sod farm formula to grow Zoysia. Because of this I wanted to write 4 tips for homeowners who are struggling with their Zoysia lawn and offer some solutions that may come in handy!

New Construction Problems

While driving through downtown Naples for the past 4 years on an almost every day basis I have noticed so many of these new gorgeous modern homes with lush newly planted Zoysia sod. As time has passed and as my company has grown I have come to a realization that most lawn companies that service these homes have no clue how to care for Zoysia. The most common problem I see downtown is that once that Zoysia goes in and that home is sold with beautiful grass, the grass goes downhill quickly. This is a red-flag to any home owner right away because it indicates that their company does not know how to properly service Zoysia yards. Generally speaking the New Construction and recently laid Zoysia problems can be chalked up to a lawn care company who does not have a tailored program for Zoysia yards.

This is a new construction home we service. This Picture was taken in late DECEMBER!

Why Does My Zoysia Look Terrible Every Winter?!

It’s more common than you think, but it’s really very simple. Fertilizing in mid-November to mid-January will demolish your Zoysia lawns. Mix that with not adjusting your irrigation when the cold fronts come through and you’ve got yourself some UFO looking alien landing spots in your front yard for the holidays.

This picture was taken in January when we picked up the contract for this home. The prior company had done exactly what not to do, late fertilizing then over-watering. In February this property made an incredible recovery thanks to knowledge and expertise in Zoysia Lawns.

Many all-in-one “Full Service” companies really struggle with this for a simple reason – Incentives.

The Full Service companies are incentivized to push their fertilization schedule until after the first cold front. Think about it, why would these companies fertilize earlier? The whole goal of being in control of how much fertilizer you put down as a mowing company is to control when the growing season ends. If they fertilized at the time the Zoysia needed it most, they would extend their mowing season by 2-4 more weeks. By not timing the fertilization correctly and causing these large fungus rings in your grass now they can really clip you with an up-charge to paint your grass or re-sod.

Painting Your Zoysia

Another red flag of a company that doesn’t know how to treat your Zoysia is a company that has to paint their properties. Four years ago when I started my company in Naples, I had companies calling me left and right to subcontract their Zoysia lawns to me. The reason was because in the middle of winter, our Zoysia lawns stuck out like a Redwood in the desert! Using what my father had taught me about Zoysia and timing up our applications correctly, although much to chagrin of the mowing companies who had to elongate their mowing season, the Zoysia yards we serviced were the best in Naples. Now most recently I have noticed a trend that if you don’t know what to do, paint it! I have seen at these properties their paver driveways are stained on the side from the paint, their travertine rock has a green rim around it, and that stuff doesn’t come out. Incredibly enough this past year I saw a company that sprayed “Herbicide Dye” on a yard, which washed off in 5 days; but while it was there it looked like the yard was a dirty plastic green color and I felt so bad I had to tell the company the correct product to use.

These pictures are from the yard that was sprayed with “herbicide dye”. As you can see, the dye does not last and the grass is in growing season by now (late march) the wrong course of action was taken here. My account down the street has been green by this point for months, yet this company couldn’t figure out what to do.

This picture is a paint stain left behind on the pavers from a company that sprayed the correct paint, but was not careful around the pavers. This driveway had a half circle of green on all the pavers.

Irrigation Management (CRUCIAL)

Having a company/homeowner who is tactile enough to mobilize when the first cold front comes and turn off the irrigation is a Zoysia life-saver. Zoysia lawns get ruined by being damp/wet all the time during the winter. The most beneficial thing you can do as a homeowner is to direct your company that when the first cold front comes, turn off the water. Only turn the water back on when the temperature nears 80 degrees or the lawn is visibly showing drought stress. Zoysia is a very drought tolerant grass, so you must air on the side of dryness during the winter. This one tip can save you thousands of dollars not only in sod, but on your water bill.

This is a Zoysia we service, this picture was taken in early JANUARY!

Regarding The Months of April/May

Your Zoysia lawn should be near perfection besides a few irrigation hot spots that have insufficient coverage. If your Zoysia isn’t a dark green right now, it means your company has missed the necessary fertilization time for Zoysia and without fertilizing it before June, much of your then applied fertilizer will run off into our bays, estuaries and the Gulf.

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