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Author Topic:   My experience with El Toro zoysia
New in Pensacola, FL
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posted 25 January 2011 00:27     Click Here to See the Profile for New in Pensacola, FL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm in Pensacola, Fl (though I'm not really new anymore!!). We had 36 pallets (yep! ..a lot!) of El Toro installed in the Spring of 2010, and it is/was INCREDIBlY beautiful. But I've had my ups & downs. The ups are that I treated it organically only, so far, by not using any chemicals, but I did fertilize it 3 times over the spring and summer with rabbit food pellets (alfalfa pellets). The alfalfa pellets helped the roots take exceptionally fast, except along the house where there's shade, and under 2 large oak trees, where there's only about 4 hours of sun/day. So, where I had a lot of sun, and had put down alfalfa, it grew TOO well!! I was mowing twice per week, and (are you sitting down?) I was doing all this all summer long with a Fiskars Reel mower, the new orange one that came out that throws the grass forward, with NO catcher!!) Let's just say I was always mowing!! Every day, I would mow for about 1-2 hours, and use that as my exercise. After the large $$$ investment in the grass, I didn't see fit to buy a riding mower....just yet anyway.
Actually, I LOVE the Fiskars mower, but I have almost an acre, and if the grass would grow more slowly, I think I'd be ok with it.

So, although it greened up and took root, and was LUSH and THICK and quite possibly the prettiest grass in all of Pensacola, the down-side is that I don't think I can possibly repeat all that work again this coming summer. And the 1 other main problem I had was my own fault. On July 1st, with family/friends coming over for the July 4th weekend, I decided to cut the grass short so I wouldn't have to mow for the whole upcoming week. MAJOR MISTAKE!! I cut the 3" grass down to about 1". It looked FANTASTIC for the next week...and then, boom! It all turned brown! It took about 3 weeks for all of it to come back green again, but meanwhile, the weeds crept in, especially in the shaded areas under my 2 oak trees in the front yard. The side yards and back are in full sun, and though some weeds did get in, there aren't too many that I probably couldn't go in and hand-pull. But the weeds in the shaded area in the front yard (for all my inquisitive neighbors to gawk at) are getting worse throughout the winter and have pretty much taken over the zoysia.

My question would be, when and what should I do, for either/or a pre-emergent, and/or post-emergent, even though I hate using chemicals. The alfalfa pellets were so amazing and even my roses and flowers on side beds were phenomenal, once I used alfalfa. I do have very sandy soil, and have been warned that if I ever go to using chemicals, I will kill off the GOOD nematodes, and will end up helping the BAD nematodes, and once I have the bad nematodes, this grass is pretty much a permanent bye-bye!! (Another neighbor about 10 yrs ago lost all his zoysia to bad nematodes)
The only other problem I've had over the last 6 months or so, are mole hills and tunnels, and I've heard that I can use dishwashing soap in the water-sprayer to get rid of the bugs that attract the moles in the first place. I still have a bunch of mole hills/tunnels in the front yard, where there's shade and weeds. I've not really had any mole tunnels in the super sunny areas.

So my questions are:
1. should I use chemicals for the weeds, and if so, what and when?

2. When should I scalp the grass this spring? And how short should I scalp it?

3. Should I keep using alfalfa, and when, and what else would help as far as fertilizer?

4. Any other thoughts?

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mrmumbels
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posted 30 January 2011 11:35     Click Here to See the Profile for mrmumbels     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What kinda of weeds do you have? I just spot treated for a few years successfuly since the zoysia is so thick it prevents most of them.

Scalp in the spring right before the grass starts growing again. That being said, I am in Tampa and my lawn has not gone fully dormant this year so I'm not scalping otherwise It hurts the living stuff pretty bad as you saw when you cut it down from 3 to 1 inch. Plus the scalping will let weeds grow easier.

Don't know about alfalfa but I personally have never noticed fertilizer to make any difference on my zoysia.

As with you, my first year with my empire zoysia was the best year. Here's a few pics I had put together. http://coffeebrandy.com/pics/zoysia/

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Stan
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posted 31 January 2011 17:49     Click Here to See the Profile for Stan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that post. I had planted a test section of two rolls of El Torro in September. In NC it stayed green until it succumbed to repeated freezing in early December. I was surprised at the color, thickness and texture. It looked better than many of the newer varieties I had seen. I also plan to get a Fiskar mower so glad to hear it works well for a smaller yard.

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awin4me
Turfmaster
posted 18 April 2011 11:35     Click Here to See the Profile for awin4me     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
mrmumbels.....

What do you think are your issues causing the "bad sections" of your grass.

So far in my experience with my empire, spots that turn bad are:
1. Either not getting appropriate water (there are small gaps in my sprinkler system

2. Shaded areas ( I see you have a tree or two)

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mrmumbels
Turfmaster
posted 18 April 2011 20:08     Click Here to See the Profile for mrmumbels     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awin, I had the same issue as you my first year. The whole side touching the roadside didn't get as much water because I didn't want my sprinklers hitting the road. So that part was usually dried up and dead looking. From the 2nd year on the edge along side the road has been the best part of my lawn.

I'm pretty positive it's soil issues. I don't have enough organic material in the soil. I did a test last fall by cutting out a 4x4 section and filled the hole with some great garden soil from home depot then layed the grass piece back on top. This year it's a beautiful 4x4 piece of zoysia sitting in the middle of a dried up lawn.

It's pretty much the same situation with any lawn in this neighborhood. It's a 35 yr old neighborhood built on an orange grove that was probably sucked dry of nutrients..

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mrmumbels
Turfmaster
posted 18 April 2011 20:13     Click Here to See the Profile for mrmumbels     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
awin did you see my pics? http://coffeebrandy.com/pics/zoysia/

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awin4me
Turfmaster
posted 19 April 2011 23:56     Click Here to See the Profile for awin4me     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mrm,

Yes, I was looking at them. I have some pics on one of the posts I'll have to find the link.

My couple of bad sections look like yours does. They are very small in comparison though and are near the house and by a big bush so they get shade more then the rest of the grass.

I'll have to try the Alfalfa idea, hadn't heard about that before regarding nutrients. I agree with the thought that topsoil is a HUGE help but it costs so much to do that.

I suppose time will tell. I know everyone on my street in this development used to have lush St. Augustine lawns, but after 2 years they died up so fast due to heat stress or bugs.

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awin4me
Turfmaster
posted 20 April 2011 00:10     Click Here to See the Profile for awin4me     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mrm,

I looked again at your old posting with the new lawn verses your recent posting some the "good/bad" areas.

Not sure what's going on with it some thoughts.....

Mow height? I mow mine very very high (sometimes 5 or 6" and I know people swear by mowing it under 3" but I simply haven't once the grass got established). I'm no scalper and found that when I followed some online instructions to scalp it in the spring after the last freeze I actually hurt the grass. In essence I think I scalped too much even though it was dormant.

Sunlight? Is the "good stuff" in 100% sun? Mine is only sparce in a couple shady spots

How long did it go from lush to sparse? Just curious as I could face the same situation.

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awin4me
Turfmaster
posted 20 April 2011 00:18     Click Here to See the Profile for awin4me     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On fertilizer.....

You mentioned earlier you "never noticed a difference fertilizing your zoysia"

When I fertilize mine within the first 7 days I notice its more lush and more dark green then it used to be . One time I did one side ran out of fertilizer and did the other 5 days later so I had one side darker green then the other.

Just throwing it out there, I think you mow yours much lower than I do. When I walk on it bare footed or in flip flops my feet sink and literally leave footprints. Not sure if that is good or not though, it is what it is lol.

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mrmumbels
Turfmaster
posted 20 April 2011 07:12     Click Here to See the Profile for mrmumbels     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by awin4me:
Mrm,

I looked again at your old posting with the new lawn verses your recent posting some the "good/bad" areas.

Not sure what's going on with it some thoughts.....

Mow height? I mow mine very very high (sometimes 5 or 6" and I know people swear by mowing it under 3" but I simply haven't once the grass got established). I'm no scalper and found that when I followed some online instructions to scalp it in the spring after the last freeze I actually hurt the grass. In essence I think I scalped too much even though it was dormant.

Sunlight? Is the "good stuff" in 100% sun? Mine is only sparce in a couple shady spots

How long did it go from lush to sparse? Just curious as I could face the same situation.


My first year I kept it around 4 inches. Then the next year just above 2. Last year I tried to raise it but some spots grew and some spots didn't so it looked awful. This year, at the moment I'm trying to get it back to 4 inches but it's just not growing without rain.

The whole fertilizer problem for me could most likely me because I have no root system. I was told that the firt inch or so of soil doesn't really hold much of the fertilizer therefore the grass isn't getting any of it. There is one patch this year that really took to the alfalfa. It's the darkest patch I've seen in years.

My next test is to get a sod cutter and pull up the entire back lawn. Till in a bunch of alfalfa, top soil, and anything else organic then lay it back down. That seems like the only thing that'll work right now.

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ezf
Turfmaster
posted 31 May 2011 21:18     Click Here to See the Profile for ezf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find the following website really helpful in controlling weeds organically, applying a lot of sugar in the spring.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Lawns-725/indexExp_59593.htm

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