Monday, February 18, 2008

Saving my zoysia

Hi Anne,

I need your advice. I read that you have grown zoysia in Raleigh for many years. I have had zoysia in my yard for almost 6 years. It survived the drought of 4-5 years ago and continued to spread slowly but surely. I don't normally fertilize so it might have fully covered my large yard by now if I had. I also just now read about dethatching, which I have never done either. This year's drought was tough. Due to the drought and that we have a well, I have not watered at all this year, to conserve our well. But the last drought, the zoysia survived just fine. But in the last couple of months I've looked closely into the dormant grass and have now noticed many dead areas.

Can you advise me on how to save my zoysia from dying more and regrowing where it's died already?

Thanks for your attention,
Richard G.

Anne's Response:

Zoysia lawns are very resilient so I hope what you are seeing as dead patches are just dormant grass. My lawn has been in place for over 30 years and does not get watered. I cut the grass very short in late March or early April and rake it to remove the thatch. After the grass greens up in May I use a core aerator to keep the soil from being compacted.

Any lawn gets compacted with foot traffic from humans and animals and heavy lawnmowers compact it as well. Compacted soil keeps the roots from developing in the ground so that may the source of your lawn's slow growth. Every other year I top-dress the lawn when I aerate. I use composted manure to add organic matter and some nitrogen but some people use sand just as golf courses do on their Bermuda grass. In years of "normal" rainfall the lawn gets fertilized in June and August. Never fertilize the lawn if you don't expect to get rain but Zoysia does need a yearly application of nitrogen for a healthy lawn.

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