Zoysiagrass is a fantastic grass...but NOT FOR NORTHERN LAWNS! Every year, many people get attracted to this wonder grass through advertisements on the back page of the Sunday supplement. It is touted as a grass that will fill in quickly and squeeze out all those weeds and be as durable as a cement pad.

Many of these claims are more or less true. The problem is that Zoysiagrass is a warm season grass. In the northern part of the country, we grow cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and the fescues. These species grow and expand during the cool of the spring and fall. They want to go dormant in the heat of the summer unless they are watered regularly.

Warm season grasses like Zoysiagrass only grow during hot weather. The rest of the year, they turn a bright straw-brown color and stay dormant. In the north, this means that Zoysiagrass lawns don’t turn green until near the end of May and they go dormant again as soon as temperatures cool down in early September. Most people want their lawns to be green from about early April to late November.

The other problem with Zoysiagrass is, ironically, the result of one of its strengths. Sure, it spreads and fill an area with a thick mat. Unfortunately, it does not recognize property boundaries and will often spread into your neighbor’s yard too. That can strain otherwise friendly relations.

To get rid of Zoysiagrass, you must kill it all with an herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, Kleenup, etc.). As an alternative, you could try to smother it by covering the entire area with black plastic or by piling leaves on it for several weeks. Once you are sure it is all dead, reseed the area with a mixture of bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fescue.

Remember that the old saying that, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." applies to horticulture too.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


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