Turfgrass

Anyone planted Zoysia SEED aka Zenith or Cathay?

Anyone planted Zoysia SEED aka Zenith or Cathay?

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Turf r us – posted 13 June 2005 09:00

Howdy from Central Texas. I have recently (two weeks ago) sowed 6,600 s.f. with high quality Zenith and J36/J37 Zoysia seed in a well prepared seedbed. These are fine new strains of Zoysia that can be planted for a fraction of the cost of sod in case you’re wondering. $25 versus an equivalent of about $300 to plant about 1,000 s.f. Kicker is, it needs to be watered often until it germinates and that is my issue – anyone know how long it takes this stuff to germinate? Even my “lab” tests haven’t showed signs of swelling or seedcoat cracking.

I water at least twice a day. Apparently Zoysia seed prefers light to germinate and must be sowed no deeper than 1/4″ which I may or may not have accomplished in that I used the scraping action of a tractor pulled boxblade to pack it. On the next plot I think I’m gonna soak the seed for 48 hours before broadcasting, mixed in dry sand for ease of distribution. I did not presoak the seed this time.

Mark

TexanOne – posted 14 June 2005 23:52

I live in West Central Texas and I planted Zenith Zoysia at a rate of 1-lb/1000ft2 in April 1999 (4000 ft2 total). I had a decent stand of zoysia by July, but it really only started to look good after about 2 years (2001). Here are some tips from the Texas Zenith School of Hard Knocks:

1: It would have been better if I had used 2 or 3 lbs/1000ft2. Zenith Zoysia is VERY SLOOOOW! But, the good news is – once it gets established, it is very thick.

2: After about a year, Texas Common St. Augustine started appearing in patches throughout the Zenith turf, even though the Zenith is protected by concrete/brick curbs from the neighbor’s St. Augustine/Bermuda mix. Zenith DOES NOT compete well with St. Augustine in West Central Texas, but it will eventually override Bermuda – especially in the shadeier parts of the lawn. Bottom Line: get familiar with Drive 75DF herbicide because this is the only chemical that will give your Zenith a fighting chance against St. Augustine. Drive doesn’t harm the Zoysia, but it will knock the St. Augustine down very well.

3: Don’t mow the Zenith any lower than 3″ when the temps get over 90 degrees – no matter what you read! It really does object to low mowing in hot, Texas weather – sun or shade. A 3″ cut height also will favor the Zenith over the eventual Bermuda invasion. I scalp the Zenith in late-Feb, just as it’s coming out of dormancy, and then set the mower at 2″ until the temps start hitting 90 degrees – then I go to 3″ and stay there till the first frost. Additionally, with the 3″ cut, Zenith will grow like a weed in hot weather. I have to cut it 2x/week in the summer for it to look good.

4: Only fertilize it 2x/year. Once in March, and the other in September – and then ONLY at 1 lb of nitrogen / 1000ft2 each time. You cannot coax Zenith to grow faster – no matter how much you try. Higher rates of fertilizer will only favor bermuda and the dreaded St Augustine.

5: Zenith doesn’t grow worth a flip under the shade of large trees (i.e: Live Oaks). Zenith is thin and puny under heavy shade. I have to prune a very large live oak so the Zenith will get about 2 hours of full sun/day. Zenith seems to prefer about 5-6 hours of full sun, especially morning sun and that’s where it looks the best in my yard. This past year, I’ve taken to plugging in Palisades Zoysia under the live oak, which seems to do much better in the shade.

6: It needs about as much water as St Augustine – maybe a little less, but definately more than bermuda. Drought and watering restrictions in Texas will wipe it out fast and recovery is again – VERY SLOOOW.

Now all this may sound like the seeded Zenith is not worth having – not true! It is a beautiful grass and I get comments all the time about how good it looks. However, it is a fussy grass and it does have it’s own rules to be successful – all of which I listed above. If you throw out the seed in the yard and expect it to perform like bermuda, you’ll be very disappointed. Give it a little pampering and stick to the rules and it will become a showplace lawn. Hope this helps!

TexanOne – posted 15 June 2005 00:12

Forgot to mention:

Sounds like you seeded it correctly from your description. I kept my newly seeded Zenith seed damp for 2 months (April through June), with the sprinklers coming on about 4-5x/during the daytime for a few minutes each time. After the seedlings appeared, I watered it less in frequency but more in watering run time – or about 1-2x/day with about 10 minutes run time. After about 2-3 weeks, you should see some tiny seedlings, but nothing substantial (like a mat of green grass) will be visible until July or so (since you planted it 2 weeks ago). Again, nothing’s wrong with the seed – the stuff is just slow and it is an exercise in patience!

turf r us – posted 15 June 2005 11:31

THANKS a bunch for your time and detailed post. Great advice and will be well heeded. I too have a bunch of newly planted oaks where the Zoysia is and will keep the branches trimmed high for adequate light. I just looked again and no seedlings are up. It’s been in for about 18 days. i know it didn’t help when I picked up quite a bit of soil in my boxblade as I was trying to scrape it in after sowing, at least that was my intent, to barely cover it. If I have to do it all over again, which I will for another area, I’m going to soak the seed for 48 hours in warm water and mix it with dry sand for sowing. That should greatly speed up germination.

A few questions:

1. Where exactly are you? I’m just north of Fredericksburg and have a rather shallow, red silt underlain with red clay, pH of 8.0, to work with. I worked in 50 yds of composted horse manure, 150lbs. of sulfur, bag of Ironite and a bag of 13-13-13. I assume your in alkanine soil. How does the leaf color look? Green, chlorotic, etc.?

2. Since I’m out in the country and have about every kind of weed to contend with, St. Augustine is not an issue. I have used Round-up several times and am nailing the weeds though. Am thinking about bordering the zoysia with bermuda, either common or one of the improved strains to cut down cost and as a buffer between the house/yard and crops. I assume that Atrazine is safe for Zoysia should I get a bermuda invasion.

Thanks again.

turf r us – posted 15 June 2005 11:35

THANKS a bunch for your time and detailed post. Great advice and will be well heeded. I too have a bunch of newly planted oaks where the Zoysia is and will keep the branches trimmed high for adequate light. I just looked again and no seedlings are up. It’s been in for about 18 days. i know it didn’t help when I picked up quite a bit of soil in my boxblade as I was trying to scrape it in after sowing, at least that was my intent, to barely cover it. If I have to do it all over again, which I will for another area, I’m going to soak the seed for 48 hours in warm water and mix it with dry sand for sowing. That should greatly speed up germination.

A few questions:

1. Where exactly are you? I’m just north of Fredericksburg and have a rather shallow, red silt underlain with red clay, pH of 8.0, to work with. I worked in 50 yds of composted horse manure, 150lbs. of sulfur, bag of Ironite and a bag of 13-13-13. I assume your in alkanine soil. How does the leaf color look? Green, chlorotic, etc.?

2. Since I’m out in the country and have about every kind of weed to contend with, St. Augustine is not an issue. I have used Round-up several times and am nailing the weeds though. Am thinking about bordering the zoysia with bermuda, either common or one of the improved strains to cut down cost and as a buffer between the house/yard and crops. I assume that Atrazine is safe for Zoysia should I get a bermuda invasion.

Thanks again.

TexanOne – posted 17 June 2005 02:16

I live in San Angelo – small world! I have family (in-laws) that live between Llano and Fredericksburg – just outside of Fredricksburg, and in Llano. They are probably your neighbors! Anyway, I’ve never had my soil tested for pH because it’s all the same in the Concho Valley: about a pH 7.8 – 8.5 clay loam, about 12″ of good deep soil but underladen with caliche <sp> and rock – most of which is highly alkaline.

I usually don’t buy any particular type of fertilizer – just the cheapest I can find, except that I look for one that has sulphur to neutralize some of the alkalinity. Nitrogen is nitrogen, so why spend the extra $$ if you don’t have to for high dollar plant food. Plus, when you are only applying 2lbs/year, the acidic neutralizing reaction doesn’t go very far. To make matters worse, our water is also highly alkaline. I’ve noticed that Zenith does not appear very pH sensitive – good news! (read on)…

To answer your chlorosis question – Zenith is a bright green, lettuce color in the shade, and a dark, very good looking bluish-green in the sunny parts. In the sunny parts of the yard, sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing the texture of the Zenith from St Augustine – the blade width is almost the same (Zenith slightly narrower), but the Zenith has a sharp point at the growing tip – the St Augustine is rounded.

If I were you, I wouldn’t bother with soaking the seed. I have no experience with that at all – just an opinion to save you some labor. The biggest problem I had after I seeded the Zenith was 2 things:

1: A big T-storm, one of those typical springtime Texas frog-stranglers blew in about a week after I seeded my yard and probably washed half the seed down the curb gutter. This was my own stupid fault because I only covered the seed with about a 1/8″ cover (I lightly raked it in with a leaf rake).

– and –

2: An entire herd of deer decided to forage a mile into the residential area where I live and feast on the nearby landscapes during the drought we had back then. Every morning, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had conducted field practice on my newly seeded Zenith soil bed. Amazingly, the Zenith came up anyway (actually took about 3-4 weeks).

I’m very familiar with the natural landscape around where you live. I can’t think of anything that would give you problems invading the Zenith once it comes up – just make sure it gets about 3 hours of sun/day and keep it DAMP – not wet. Of course, I’ve noticed that every year in the early spring we have an invasion of a particular weed that infests every yard of all grasses. This year it was ryegrass, and last year, it was the attack of the dandilions but that kind of stuff is “normal” for our area every spring. After about May or so, the Zenith is thick enough to naturally choke out whatever the winter season brought in.

Here’s something else you may think this is crazy, but I’ve been using a lawn tonic on my Zenith since last year and I honestly believe this helps. A friend of mine sent me this link – it came from a TV station in Denver.

http://9news.com/acm_news.aspx?OSGNAME=KUSA&IKOBJECTID=3d495a65-0abe-421a-003f-ce8c8a9cf405&TEMPLATEID=b51b34e5-ac1f-02c5-0030-d4296bd9816b

Before using this concoction, the Zenith really seemed to “struggle” along in spread rate. I tried it since another station in Phoenix, AZ did an investigative report and concluded the tonic did indeed work. Since using this tonic, I have noticed a dramatic improvement – the Zenith now overtakes the bermuda infested areas at a rate of about 12-18″/year. However, I upgraded my irrigation system at the same time with higher efficiency rotor sprays – so I can’t tell you if the tonic or the rotors made the difference – maybe both did??

If the link does not work, let me know and I’ll send you the formula. I use an old Ortho “Dial-a-Spray” to apply it at 4oz/gal – and it does the job just fine.

That’s about eveything I can tell you about Zenith Zoysia for now. If you get up by San Angelo, give me a holler and you can come by and see a 6-year old planting!

Let me know if if have any other questions!

turf r us – posted 17 June 2005 12:29

Wow, it IS a small world. I live right on the LLano HWY (16) on the west side of the highway about 1/2 mile south of Eckert Road, the road that goes east to Willow City Loop. I’m about 12.5 miles north of Fredericksburg’s Main St., so yes, your relatives are neighbors of mine. Same invitation applies, if you’re ever down this way give me a holler. My email addy is <Freeway609@netscape.com>.

Funny about the pH as that was a major conern for me and makes me feel alot better knowing it’s not that big of a deal….reason why I asked about the chlorosis issue, and, reason why I busted my butt putting in all the sulfur, Ironite, and manure. One pro said I must have pH around 6.5 to be successful, others say Zoysia is pretty tolerant of a wide pH swing. I’m blessed with neutral water but it has everything you can imagine in it, especially Ca and Mg. My well terminates at granite about 165′ down and the sandstone above it percolates all kinds of minerals, including sulfates and a little bit of Na. I have lot’s of caliche rock too, like yours but plenty of red silt to work with. Sounds like this stuff is pretty tough stuff once you get it going. I am finally seeing seedlings BTW – yay!

Sorry to hear about your bad luck – what a pain….. but it’s always something. I’d give my left ^%&(* to have just a 1/2″ of rain right now! Sheesh, the SW dry winds are about to kill me. The deer can indeed be a real nuisance – I put in high fence so it’s not an issue for me but this perennial broadleaf nightshade and johnson grass is….nothing 2,4 D and Round-Up can’t take of – it’s just money, eh? Weed-B-Gon may be the ticket for you based on my research and experience.

Thanks for the link, I always did like homebrew! Speaking of links, these may be of interest to you and our listening audience:http://aggie-turf.tamu.edu/aggieturf2/control.htmlhttp://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/2003/zoysia415.htmhttp://www.sroseed.com/Products/VDS/ZoysiaGrs.htm

Thanks again for the info. Guess this is a lesson in patience. Sure wish I had an irrigation system, but right now planning and implenting a drip irrigation system for 12 acres is all this hombre can stand.

Cao…

catfish – posted 17 June 2005 17:28

I think you are on the right track, but patience is definitely a virtue, especially with Zoysia and more so with the seed. With Zoisia, Patience is #1, getting the seed in direct contact with the soil is #2 and keeping the seed damp is #3. If you can do those three you should be successful. Any type of fine/mulch you can put over the soil after seeding will help assure that the seeds remain moist. Remember, if they get dry during their first few weeks, they will quickly die. If you are intent on using seed rather than sod, I recommend that you use at double or tripple the recommended lbs/sq ft and spend a little of some fine pine bark or shredded hardwood mulch. Trust me, it is worth spending a little here.

Dampening the entire area for 10-15 mins several times a day is critical, even with the mulch. If you have an automated/timed irrigation system you should do well. If not, I recommend that you seriously consider going the sod route. I have done it with varying degrees of success from seed, sod, and plugs, and I would recommend seeding only for those with an automated irrigation system.

I have had good luck plugging zoysia where I have had existing fescue and centepede lawns that I wanted to convert. I have personally had somewhat less success with plugging where the existing lawn is primarily bermuda. If you can keep the bermuda mowed very low for a couple of seasons I think the zoysia should ultimately take over.

Also, I am more favorable toward the Meyers, zenith, and empire varieties, as I believe they are more shade tollerant than the emerald. My experience is that they all require a good amount of light, although they can tollerate a good deal of shade. However, if you are putting in zoysia in any area that gets less than 3-4 hrs of full sun, I think you’d be well advised to not try anything but sod.

TexanOne – posted 19 June 2005 06:57

I agree with everything catfish said and thanks for the links – I haven’t seen those before, great reference material!

I do have to admit that there were more than a few times a couple of years ago that I got very frustrated and ALMOST got the Roundup out and nuked the whole Zenith/Bermuda/St Augustine hoge-poged mix. My patience got as thin as the Zenith coverage at the time, but ultimately – I’m glad I didn’t.

There will be weeds infesting the Zenith for now and for the next few years until the stuff really mats and kneeds together, so get ready for that. I have experience with the Fusilade and MSMA herbicides on the Zenith and didn’t like either one of them. I used the Fusilade to control the Bermuda, but noticed it also did some slight damage to the Zenith. Fusilade didn’t damage the Zenith as badly as the Bermuda, but the REAL problem was the Bermuda rebounded and recovered quicker from the injury. A few weeks after applying the Fusilade, the Bermuda was again spreading and the Zenith was still in recovery – making the situation even worse than before. I finally figured out the Zenith will overrun the Bermuda naturally if I stuck to my mowing schedule, so I stopped with the Fusilade treatments.

I don’t know what happened with the MSMA treatments to control the St Augustine, but that was just a waste of time. I tried MSMA at mixes up to 150% stronger than the label recommended and the St Augustine patches just laughed at my attempts. To make matters worse, the MSMA yellowed the Zenith.

The Drive 75DF did the trick – it seriously knocks out St Augustine and does zero damage to the Zenith. Since I discovered Drive, and stopped with the Fusilade and MSMA about a year ago, I figure that I can only claim Zenith success for about a year. The Drive will also knock out the Johnsongrass. I’ve only been able to buy Drive at commercial Ag outlets – they don’t sell it at the local nursery.

Anyway, my email is:

fox2004@cox.net

Drop me a line and I’ll send you my address. Next time you get by San Angelo, come on by and give you the 5-cent tour!

Keep those seedlings damp in this 100+ dry desert air. They should be really growing fast in this heat!

turf r us – posted 19 June 2005 07:54

Thanks guys for the encouragement and the tip on Patience which I’ve got to admit is NOT one of my virtues. It’s been about 22 days since I sowed the seed and very little is up. If I have to resow, I will hydrate the seed in a tub of water placed in a warm area for at least 3 days and then try again. I ran a germ test using seeds sandwiched between a wet paper towel stuck in a sealed baggie and found the germination rate to be about 6 days – that’s a major problem IMO. Temps with that experiment averaged about 80F and the baggie was exposed to strong indirect light. One resource recommended exposing the seed to light OR soaking for 48 hours to speed up germination. Of course once the seedcoat has cracked, sowing will damage the fragile root radicle so one must be very observant. First sign of the seedcoat cracking on a few and the seed must go down.

Another one of my “oops” was the use of my boxblade behind my tractor to lightly work the seed into my tilled area. I thought I had the blade tilted enough such that it would just scratch the surface (and not pick up soil) but I look back and find the box is half full of soil, so some of the seed is bound to be covered by at least an inch of soil which will kill it.

BTW, I have no shade now but when my recently planted little oaks (Bur, Chinkapin, Shummard) get about 20′ tall, I’ll be sure and have the lower scaffold high enough to allow plenty of light penetration.

I’ll try the Drive if need be, just got my pesticide applicators approval (passed the test) although I haven’t sent off for the license yet so I’ll have alot of herbicide choices. I’m discussing the use of herbicides with Bob Hogan where I bought my seed. My proposal is to use Atrazine on any encroaching bermuda (I plan to plant Riviera or Yukon outside of the backyard 3-rail open fence). Bob says a mechanical border between the two species is pretty much useless as it will go over and under, so my choice is to find/use chemical controls to keep one suppressed in the other. I’ll start with Roundup and go from there to create a dead zone directly below the bottom rail.

Looks like all of our issues expressed are unique to each one of us. I have plenty of water as I’m on a well, and with the touch of a button I can set my water PSI from 30 – 110 (constant water pressue pump), kicker is the distribution and time this involves. My major issue right now is the heat and time involved to water 6,000 s.f. about 3 times a day. It’s hitting 100F with low RH so it’s challenging and this constant wind coming over the hill is a huge PITA regarding distribution as certain areas get flooded and some don’t get anything due to strong crosswinds – so its hand watering fer me while kicking the pump PSI up to 80. That fills up a garden hose. Sheesh…..just a half inch of rain and I’d be home free me thinks! There’s none in sight.

TexanOne, you said that you mow Zoysia twice a week? I heard it is so slow growing that it only needs to be mowed every couple of weeks or so. When people say it is ‘slow’ growing, am I to assume they mean it is slow to fill in? I thought that slow growing trait would apply to it’s vertical growth too.

BTW, the Zenith only makes up 1/3 of my Zoysia blend. I mixed J36 and J37 with it, which comes in a 50/50 mix and is called “Cathay” by the grower. Cathay also gets high merits in the NTSA test, or some such comprehensive test of seeded Zoysias I have on file. I figure there will be strengths and weaknesses in each one but my losses will be less than using one exclusively.

Thanks again for the input fellas, and happy gardening.

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