Zoysia grass is an excellent option for anyone looking for a lush and resilient lawn. In optimal growing conditions, this warm-season grass can tolerate extreme heat, high humidity, and heavy foot traffic. Its versatility, durability, and low-maintenance qualities make it a favorite in lawns and golf courses.
What is Zoysia Grass?
A native to Southeast Asia and widely grown in the southern parts of the US, zoysia grass (zoysia sp.) is relatively easy to maintain. It prefers full sun but can do well in partial shade, has moderate water requirements, and doesn’t need as much fertilizer as other grass varieties. It also makes for a great drought-tolerant lawn.
Although it’s slower to establish than other grass types, zoysia will grow dense once the roots take hold. It creates a thick carpet of turf with light to medium grass blades and blade thickness ranging from thin to fine and medium broad. There are several types of zoysia, including emerald zoysia, zoysia japonica, and zeon zoysia—and while there are slight visual differences, these varieties share the many qualities that make zoysia a standout turf grass option.
What Type of Fertilizer is Best for Zoysia Grass?
The ideal time to plant zoysia is from late spring to early summer when the temperatures are mild to warm. While zoysia grass requires less fertilization than other grasses, feeding your lawn with a good amount of fertilizer remains essential to kickstart its growth and ensure that you grow a healthy turf grass resistant to pests and diseases.
Almost any lawn fertilizer generally works for zoysia lawns because most turf grasses have similar nutritional needs. Grass fertilizers have a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK ratio) to keep your grass strong, healthy, and resistant to damage and diseases. They also enhance the color of the grass and boost its growth. There are at least three types of fertilizer for treating zoysia lawns: liquid, water-soluble, and granular.
Liquid: Fertilizer, in liquid form, is easy to apply and works the fastest because it gets readily absorbed by the grass. However, it is usually more expensive than granular lawn fertilizers, and because it is liquid, there’s a higher risk of over-fertilizing and nutrient leaching, which can lead to the contamination of waterways.
Water-Soluble: As the name suggests, water-soluble fertilizers must be diluted in water before application. They can be applied directly to the grass and roots with a hose-end sprayer. However, like liquid fertilizers, their nutrients leach faster, which happens when excess water removes the nutrients from the soil and into the drainage; thus, they must be reapplied more often.
Granular: Instead of spraying, granulated fertilizers are spread onto the lawn surface by hand or using a mechanical spreader. The granules are activated by watering right after application and are formulated to release the nutrients over time for gradual and continuous feeding.
What are Fertilizer Pods?
Fertilizer pods are an excellent example of granular fertilizers. But instead of measuring them and spreading them across your zoysia lawn, they come pre-measured in dissolvable casings that you can pop straight into the soil. Each pod packs balanced nutrients slowly released into the soil, making them available as your zoysia grass needs.
At Bethel Farms, we help kickstart the growth of your zoysia grass lawns with our NutriPod®. It’s a revolutionary, pre-measured starter fertilizer intended for use along with our SodPods grass plugs. Simply dig a hole, drop in a NutriPod®, and place your grass plug over it. It slowly releases nutrients into the soil, so your grass plugs get what they need and nothing more. It will last up to 45 days, helping your grass plugs grow as much as two times faster without any harmful impact on the environment.
How to Grow & Fertilize Zoysia Grass
Besides the fertilizer type, below are the other factors to consider when fertilizing your zoysia grass.
A soil test is the first step to growing a healthy zoysia lawn. It assesses the nutrient status of your soil and determines how much fertilizer or other soil amendments to optimize for grass growth.
Zoysia thrives in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. So, if your existing soil is over 7 (alkaline) or under 6 (acidic), you may have to make amendments, such as using sulfur or lime to control acidity. Soil testing will also let you know your soil’s pH level so you can adjust your fertilizer based on the results.
Apply 2-4 pounds of fertilizer annually per 1,000 square feet of lawn to maximize its benefit to your plants. Practice caution, however—exceeding this recommended ratio can introduce high nitrogen levels and accumulate soluble salts in your soil, which can be harmful and cause burn.
Other Common Soil Additives
The existing soil in your landscape may not always be ready for planting, but soil amendments can improve it with additional materials to reduce compaction and aerate the soil to allow water and nutrients to penetrate through the soil and reach plant roots.
So, whereas fertilizers provide nutrients, soil enhancers improve the soil’s physical condition, indirectly benefitting grass growth. Below are some of the common soil additives used in zoysia lawns.
Compost: Improves soil structure, increases water retention, and promotes beneficial microbial activity.
Manure: Adds organic matter and boosts nutrient content.
Peat Moss: Helps in moisture retention, particularly in sandy soils, and contributes to soil aeration.
Perlite: Aerates the soil and improve drainage, particularly in clay soil.
Gypsum: Improves drainage, reduce compaction, and adds calcium to the soil.
Vermiculite: Improves moisture retention and aeration.
Lime: Raises soil pH in acidic soils, reducing acidity.
Sulfur: Lowers soil pH in alkaline soils, increasing acidity.
The Best Fertilizer for Zoysia Grass
The choice of the best fertilizer for zoysia grass depends largely upon understanding your existing soil’s specific needs. This underlines the importance of a soil test to determine specific nutrient deficiencies. Different soil types may require different nutrients, and a balanced fertilizer can effectively address these deficiencies, promoting optimal turfgrass growth.
Zoysia lawns, like other lawn grasses, thrive when provided with the right nutrients. However, keep in mind that creating the ideal conditions for this warm-season grass extends beyond mere proper fertilization.
Introducing additives to enhance the soil’s structure, regular aeration, vigilant pest and disease control measures, proper watering practices, and employing pre-emergent herbicides all play a significant role in maintaining a lush and healthy lawn.
This holistic approach ensures that your zoysia lawn, like other lawn grasses, receives the necessary care to keep it lush and healthy.
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