My opinions and insights about the products and services I've used may save you time and trouble before you make your next purchase or help you find that book, hotel or gadget that you've been hoping to find.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zoysia Grass review

You may have seen the ads in gardening magazines for the amazing Zoysia Grass. The ads claim that it is drought resistant, is thick and full, crowds out crab grass and weeds, spreads to cover a large area, can be spread even further through pulling and replanting plugs, and requires far less frequent mowing than other lawn grasses.

After wondering about this miracle grass and struggling with some areas of the yard that seem immune to grass seed, I finally bit the bullet and bought the Zoysia.

It arrives as plugs, but the plugs are not cut well so you need to separate each one manually before it can be inserted into the ground. Leaving some connection probably helps protect the roots from drying out in transit, so no big deal.

Zoysia was easy to plant with the plugging tool that came with the plugs. You need to buy a certain quantity before they throw in the tool, but you're probably going to need hundreds of plugs anyway if you have an avergae sized yard.

The directions say to plant one Zoysia plug for every square foot in a staggered grid pattern. You can figure out how many you'll need by calculating the area you need to cover. For every ten foot by ten foot area to be covered, you'll need one hundred plugs.

That's all fine, but what you want to know is how does the Zoysia live up to its promises. Here's my experience. The Zoysia is tough and hardy. It survives drought, heat, and cold New England winters with no problem. It does grow more slowly than regular grass so it needs less mowing. Two for two so far.

The Zoysia does spread to fill in between plugs, but it spreads more slowly than I anticipated. If you are starting with an area that has no grass yet, you may want to throw down some conventional seed to try to keep the weeds at bay until the Zoysia gets full enough to make a lawn.

The claim that Zysia does not live up to is that it grows so thickly that it chokes out weeds and crabgrass. That simply isn't true. Well, actually, their claim is a little more subtle. They say an established Zoysia lawn grows so thickly that the seeds of weeds and crabgrass cannot germinate. Either way, I have paintbrushes, dandelions and a few other weeds growing up through the Zoysia. Some of them are not perennials so the germination prevention claim seems pretty thin. I will grant that there are quite a bit fewer weeds in the established Zoysia than there are in other parts of my lawn where regular grass grows, but they are still there. I don't use lawn chemicals at all, so getting rids of weeds is a manual effort and a recurring battle.

What the ads don't say, is that Zoysia grass turns brown, and the part above ground effectively dies off in the winter cold. This leaves the lawn looking brown and dead in those winter months when it is cold but there is no snow. Furthermore, in my yard, all the other grass is green and thriving weeks, more than a month actually, before the new Zoysia shoots come up and begin to fill in each spring.

Overall, I like the Zoysia. This summer, I'll be digging some plugs from the area where the Zoysia grass has filled in and transplanting them to other problem areas of my yard.

Update: Zoysia is now available in seed form. Amazon sells it both with mulch and without. Although the five and ten pound bags with mulch are far cheaper per pound, most of the weight you are paying for is mulch and not grass seed. The two pound bag of 100% pure Zoysia Grass Seed is the better deal. Click the image above for more details and more independent reviews of the seed itself from Amazon users.

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