Maintenance Suggestions and Tips for a Healthy Zoysia Grass Lawn

Why is my Zoysia lawn not green?

Have you noticed your Zoysia grass is not as green as it was a few months ago? Zoysia grass may go dormant during colder temperatures. We have experienced quite a few nights recently that for Floridians were down right cold. When the soil temperature goes below 70 degrees there will be little to no growth. (the average temp right now is 65 F as of 2/27/24). This will also impact any recovery from disease during the Zoysia grass prolonged dormant to semi dormant conditions. Zoysia grass is usually the first turf species to go off-color in the fall and the last to green-up in the spring. Don’t be alarmed if your neighbor’s St Augustine grass greens up sooner than your Zoysia grass.

What is the best height for mowing my Zoysia lawn?

Zoysia grass should be mowed at a height of 1.75 – 2.5 inches and should be mowed weekly during the growing season. The sod fields keep the Zoysia grass they are growing at 2 – 2.5 inches so when it comes in from the farm, it is beautiful and green with little to no thatch layer. We are finding that as early as six months into mowing zoysia higher than 2.5 inches the grass may start to develop what we call stem growth. This is where the Zoysia sheath/stem starts to grow off the soil and the leaf blades are at the top.

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When this occurs, we see more of the white stem/sheath and less of the green leaf blades giving the turf an overall dull appearance especially after a mowing.
If your turf has been mowed too high for a while do not worry as this is the time of year to fix it. As the soil temperature warms up the Zoysia grass will come out of dormancy and start to grow.

How do I correct my Mowing Height?

If your Zoysia has been Maintained over 2.5 inches:

There are a few ways to fix a lawn that has been mowed too high.

  1. Bring the mowing height down slowly. For example if your turf is being mowed at 4 inches
    bring it down to 3.5 inches the first week, 3 the second week, 2.5 the third week, and finally 2 inches the next week. This method is for maintaining the turf at 2.5 inches
    During the above mowing height reduction period it is highly suggested that you have very sharp mower blades, you remove the grass clippings, and even some of the excessive thatch with a rake.

  2. The second is to “Scalp” your turf. This is the easiest method, however it can be a little stressful to the turf. This method involves making sure you have very sharp blades, but also mowing extremely slowly. By mowing slowly you will cut more cleanly and reduce the tearing of the plant tissue. This is important because tearing of the plant tissue increases your chance of fungal pathogens entering the plant. Once you have scalped the turf you will need to remove the excess thatch and clippings. If you are using a bagging mower this should be much easier.

What is Thatch?

Zoysia grasses typically develop a thick thatch layer in the years after establishment. This is especially when over-fertilized with nitrogen and/or mowed above 2.5 inches. Proper mowing heights will help to prevent thatch buildup. Thatch is an intermingled layer of living and dead turf grass shoots, stems, and roots between the green vegetation and the soil. Thatch must be controlled or removed mechanically to maintain a uniform grass appearance. The University of Florida recommends removing the thatch every year or two. There are two different ways to do this, one way is using a vertical mower, the other is a power rake. Currently we are not aware of anyone supplying that service in this area. A thatch rake can be purchased or rented at your local hardware store or online.

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