A warm-season perennial grass, the variety Zoysia matrella was first brought into the United States by USDA botanist C. V. Piper from Manila. Native to Japan, China and other parts of southeast Asia, the grass quickly became a popular turf species for the southern U.S. A sod-forming grass, zoysia's varieties spread by stolons and rhizomes.
Zoysia japonica, known as Japanese or Korean grass, is relatively cold-hardy and can thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 to 11. It offers good disease resistance and drought tolerance. During periods of drought, it rolls its leaves up, but once the grass receives ample water its thick blades unroll. The grass is moderately salt tolerant, so it can be grown near the ocean.
The grass grows best in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade. It withstands foot traffic well. It grows from seeds, unlike other zoysia grass varieties.
Mow Zoysia japonica to a height of 3/4 to 2 inches. Mow the grass in the early spring when the grass first begins to wake up from its dormancy. Remove at least an inch of soil to help clip away the dead, brown, dormant grass.
Zoysia matrella has a slow rate of growth and is less winter hardy than Zoysia japonica. It has been known to grow as far north as Connecticut but is predominantly a subtropical and tropical grass, according to the Texas A&M University website. This variety of zoysia produces narrow, slightly curled grass blades. When grown in a tropical location, such as south Florida, the grass does not turn brown and enter dormancy but remains green year-round.
Use sprigs to plant Zoysia matrella. Unfortunately, it is slow to germinate compared to other grass species.
Zoysia tenuifolia grows fine leaf blades that are pointed in appearance. A medium green, Zoysia tenuifolia is the least cold tolerant of all the zoysia grasses. It grows low to the ground and rarely requires any mowing to maintain its height or looks. Unfortunately, the variety has a tendency to develop a large amount of of thatch. It rarely grows as a dense carpet but has the tendency to grow in small clumps.
Zoysia tenuifolia is a poor lawn grass because of its overall appearance. It does look fine when grown around stepping stones or when used as a cover mulch under fruit trees or other areas where a uniform lawn surface is not required.
- Photo Credit Man mowing image by xymm from Fotolia.com
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