Planting and Growing Zoysia Grass Plugs

Planting Zoysia grass plugs is often the most effective way to get Zoysia turf established. It is the method of choice in the cooler part of the Zoysia-growing zone because the growing season is not long enough to establish a lawn from Zoysia seed.

About Zoysia Grass Plugs

Plugs are often cut directly from Zoysia sod. The plugs are typically 3 inches square and often ship in plastic containers similar to those used by local nurseries for annual flowers. When you remove the plug from the container, you’ll see the root structure of the turf growing thickly together. You’ll understand why this dense, tough turf is ideal for use in residential lawns, athletic fields and golf courses, and around public buildings.

How to Plant Zoysia Plugs

The most common way to plant these plugs is in staggered rows 15” apart (the 3” plants will be 18” apart on center.) Start the first row with a plug at the edge of the bed and the second plug at 16”. Start the second row with a plug at 8” in from the edge, and then space the plants 15” apart, producing a staggered configuration with the first row. Repeat this pattern.

For faster establishment of the lawn, set the plugs and rows 12” apart which will require about 20% more plugs. In warm and rainy climates, where a lawn will naturally be established faster, it is okay to plant the plugs 18” apart, requiring about 20% fewer plugs than 15” spacing. Whichever distance you choose, any 4 plugs should form a perfect square once they are planted.

Plant the plugs so that all green is above-ground and the root ball is completely in the ground. You may want to add compost or a weak fertilizer mixture to the hole before installing the plug. When you receive your shipment of Zoysia grass plugs, it should contain complete planting information.

When to Plant Zoysia Grass Plugs

In appropriate climates, Zoysia turf plugs may be planted in most months of the year. It is best to avoid the hottest months, usually July through mid-September. In fact, some growers won’t ship during this period because of the risk from heat.
The best time to plant Zoysia plugs is from mid-spring to early-summer. April, May and June are ideal. Plan your schedule to be able to plant the plugs within a few days of their arrival.

Watering and Fertilizing a Zoysia Plug Lawn

Keeping Zoysia plugs well-watered in the first month is essential to their success. The turf may be stressed from shipping and 1.5-2.0 inches of water in the first week to 10 days will encourage vigorous growth. Once the rhizomes begin to spread out, maintain a schedule of 1.0-1.5 inches of water per week. Make sure the moisture is penetrating 4-6 inches into the soil.

After the first week, feed the lawn with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio fertilizer. The feeding will facilitate the establishment and spread of your Zoysia grass lawn. Allow the grass to grow to 3-3.5 inches before mowing it.

Making your Own Zoysia Grass Plugs

If sod is available in your area, you may want to consider ordering enough to produce the appropriate amount of plugs for your yard. Depending on how far apart you plant them, you’ll need one plug for every 2-3 square foot of lawn. If you’re going to make your own plugs, you’ll have to keep the sod watered very well so that it doesn’t dry out. Lay the sod on the ground you plan to cover with plugs and work with it right there. Plan for some hard work, but it might produce significant cost savings and a lawn you’ll be even more proud to show off to the neighborhood.


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