Zoysia grass is a popular type of warm season grass and can be started from seed in areas with a longer growing season. However, the areas you plan to seed should have full sun or sun with very little shade. In shady areas of a seeded lawn, consider using Zoysia grass plugs instead. There are several varieties of Zoysia grass, or Zoysiagrass as it is also known. Only one of the varieties, Zoysia Japonica, can be successfully grown from seed in most areas. The commercial names for Zoysia seed include Zenith, Compadre, Meyer and a few others.
When to Plant Zoysia Grass Seed
Depending on where you live, the best time to plant Zoysia grass seed is May or June. It is important that daytime temperatures reach the upper 70s or into the 80s on a consistent basis.
Preparing the Soil for Zoysia Grass Seed
Tilling the soil very well before starting your Zoysia seed is absolutely essential. It requires a fully-prepared bed in order to establish. Thoroughly till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. Two weeks before you plant seeds, spray the entire area with weed killer so that your Zoysia seed won’t have any competition as it germinates and gets established.
The next step is to improve the soil with a fertilizer and compost. You may want to have the soil tested for its pH level. Zoysia likes a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
If you don’t have a pH test done, choose a 5-10-15 fertilizer and add 15-20 pounds per 1000 square feet. That’s about double what you would fertilize an established lawn with, but since Zoysia is slow-growing, it needs the extra help while getting started. Mix the fertilizer very thoroughly into the top 6 inches of soil.
Complete the soil preparation by adding up to 1 inch of composted material and work it into the prepared soil. These steps will produce ideal conditions for your new lawn to become established. The more of them you can do, the better start your Zoysia grass will get.
How to Plant Zoysia Grass Seed
Roll the yard with a heavy roller and, and smooth the dirt so that there are no low spots.
Next, using a seed spreader, cover the ground with 2-3 pounds of Zoysia grass seed for every 1,000 square feet. Do not rake it in; Zoysia seed should remain on or very near the surface to ensure proper germination.
Covering the seed with a very thin layer of wheat straw will help to hold moisture and speed up the germination process. Using 1/2 to 1 full bale per 1,000 square feet is about right. Scatter it so that there are no clumps of straw.
Watering and Fertilizing a Zoysia Grass Lawn
It is important that you choose a quality sprinkler that gives an even distribution of water. After covering the seed with straw, add one inch of water. You may want to place several plastic containers around the area being watered so that you know how much you’ve added. You may be surprised how long it takes for a sprinkler to deliver one inch of water.
Water daily – enough to make sure that the top one inch of soil remains moist. Follow this practice until the grass is 1.5 inches tall.
Next, add ¼” of water every third day for 3 successive applications. Once you’ve done this, water ½” twice a week for 3 weeks and then 1” per week in one or two applications for the rest of the growing season.
Keep track of how much rainfall you get, using your plastic containers or a rain gauge. If it rains enough to fulfill these guidelines, there’s no need for additional watering.
Once the lawn is established, water in the early morning so that the grass has a chance to dry. Many people advocate watering in the evening, but that can leave the grass wet all night, inviting rot and disease. In addition, if watering restrictions are in effect in your area, you may have to modify your watering schedule to comply.
Do not fertilize again for 6-8 weeks. See our article entitled Fertilizing Zoysia Grass for all the details.
Follow these guidelines closely, and in a few months your Zoysia turf should begin to look very impressive.