Meyer zoysia questions

Meyer zoysia questions

Freshman – posted 17 October 2003 21:11

Hey there, this is very long, but if someone could answer even one or two of my questions I would really appreciate the assistance! I have read your forum off and on all summer trying to select grass type and installer (may not have done so well on the installer selection!).

We had a landscaper install a new Meyer zoysia lawn around the middle of Sept. (probably on the late side but he assured us it was ok). I don’t think he did a great job, but this is all new to me.

There were lots of gaps that weeds are now sprouting in (he said 2 inches or less were ok, and maybe so if it was spring and the grass was entering its growing season). Should we do anything about the weeds (like spray) or should we just pull them up as they sprout?

Also, it looked like there were two different “batches” of sod–one batch was short and dried out looking, the second batch was lush and tall. I assume this was ok, even at this late date it looks like it evened out quite a bit. Several pieces of sod died, and he has had a hard time getting replacement pieces at this late date. He found some and is planning to lay it Mon. Will this be ok, or should we just wait until spring? My husband thinks we should wait, but I am afraid it will be difficult to get this guy to come back in the spring.

There are lots of lumps, bumps, and low places in the yard, although he followed all the steps in the guidelines I’ve read on the net. He said he would address these on Mon., but what would be the appropriate thing for him to do to fix this problem? Isn’t the only thing he can do is to take the sod up in the uneven areas (it’s pretty well rooted) and level the soil, then lay it again? Would it be better to wait until spring to do this?

We have gotten very little direction from him on caring for the lawn and haven’t mowed it yet. My husband is planning to mow for the first time tomorrow and the landscaper told us today that we should mow to a 2.5″ mowing height–is that appropriate?

Last question, do we need to do anything to the grass over the winter? I assume that we shouldn’t fertilize a grass that is about to go dormant, but please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks again for any assistance and advice you can offer!

jr – posted 18 October 2003 08:26

You don’t mention where you live, but there are a couple things I can address. First, you do not leave gaps in the sod. That is absurd. What happens is exactly what you said, weeds fill in and you will have a lawn full of bumps and weeds. Also, the sod should have been rolled following installation to make it smoother and give it good soil contact. If it was laid in late September, it is surely not that well rooted. Insist that he replace any dead grass, close up the gaps, and roll the lawn when he’s through immediately, not in the spring or you will never see him again. As for mowing, I tell my customers to wait at least 3 weeks before the first cut, and to cut it as high as possible, which means higher than 2.5 inches. I am in east central florida so this may not apply to you.

Freshman – posted 18 October 2003 09:01

Thank you so much for your advice–I am in Atlanta. We are having a somewhat cooler than normal fall.

The sod was laid mid-Sept., and he did roll after laying the sod. I suspect he went through the motions but did not do it well. There are some places that haven’t rooted at all but some places I can’t lift.

Thanks again, and I would welcome any other advice anyone has to offer.

ted – posted 19 October 2003 12:50

you’re not going to like this answer…but you really had a poor installation job. I see this all the time in new construction. it’s really important that you have the right soil in your lawn, that it be smoothed out properly and that good healthy sod be installed correctly without bumps, or gaps. you’ve absolutely nailed the problem. the grass has gaps where weeds grow, the installer didn’t use quality sod, and the bumps are going to be a continual maintenance issue with the mowing. the answer is to resod next spring, without a doubt. if you don’t you’re going to have perpetual maintenance issues with weeds and mowing.

Freshman – posted 19 October 2003 15:27

Thanks for your reply, Ted. Yes, I think you are right about the quality of the installation. I guess we’ll see what it looks like next spring and then most likely get someone else to do it over.

I wasn’t completely comfortable with this guy, but if you can believe it, he was the best of the lot that I could get to even call me back. I am so frustrated–why is it so difficult to find someone who does decent work?!! And even the guys that do poor quality work are as busy as they can be!

Thanks again for your input.

ted – posted 19 October 2003 16:36

next spring sounds like a good plan. make sure you soil test first and tell the soil testing folks that you have zoysia, that way you can custom tailor a fertilization/maintenance plan for the zoysia. zoysia has less needs for water and fertilizer, but it more than makes up for it in dethatching and specialized mowing. you might want to look at the Purdue web site, they have some excellent articles on zoysia, just keep in mind that the dates of maintenance will change due to your location. as for the contractor issue, i’ve been in business for 20 years as a chemical lawn care operator and we’re always dealing with incorrect installations. it causes alot of headaches later on for the homeowner as well as the frustration you’re experiencing now. everything in turf is about the original setup of the lawn. if it’s done right, everything else falls into place fairly easily

Alex_in_FL (Lex) – posted 08 December 2003 17:50

Don’t go and do anything drastic. There are some solutions available short of pulling up the yard – if you don’t have to have it fixed “right this minute.” You are lucky that you have zoysia.

1. Keep pulling the weeds.2. Get a sprayer and spray the weeds. Do it now as weeds only get worse. If you have to when the zoysia goes dormant (completely dormant) you can use roundup on anything else growing. 3. Put down a crabgrass preemergent.4. When grass is completely dormant, get sand and fill in the cracks/gaps. Use sand, not topsoil as weeds grow much better in topsoil. Water in the sand.5. This spring put down crabgrass preemergent again. Begin attacking the weeds early.6. Once the grass is growing you can fill in low spots about every 4-6 weeks with a little sand. Just toss a spade full of sand into the low area and hose it in with water. This will take a while but it will work.

Now, if you think you have problems how about this. My father had our front yard disked one year. The zoysia had gotten real think and he need to verticut it or let the disk just cut the ground. He had the guy sink the disk in like turning a field under. Talk about a disaster!!! Thank goodness Uncle Otis was there. Uncle Otis had Dad get on the riding lawnmower, raise the blade and cut the disked area. Then lower the blade one notch and cut again.

Yes, he used the mower to beat the area level. Yard looked fine next summer (Dad heard about this for years!!! Just like when he decided to burn the yard in the fall one year but that is another story.)

Happy zoysia growing.

Freshman – posted 08 December 2003 20:12

Thanks so much for your reply! We have been spraying for weeds, and I have a preemergent to apply when the time is right. We plan to see how things look when the zoysia greens up in the spring before undertaking a redo on the whole yard.

Sorry, but I have never heard of “disking”?? But it sounds like your father had a mess on his hands! Makes me feel not so bad about my yard.

Thanks again for your advice!

ted – posted 09 December 2003 10:35

Whoa! you have to be very careful in using roundup on the supposedly dormant zoysia- you would have to make very, very sure it was dormant, like a couple of nights below freezing, followed a slightly warm spell (warm enough to kill the weeds like in the high 40’s low 50’s) then heading back into the freeze zone afterward. it’s a dicey proposition for a homeowner. what kind of weeds are you trying to kill now? very important to know. as for pre-emergent- you don’t want to put it down now, in your market maybe mid- march. what pre-em is it? the homeowner versions are notoriously ineffective, and remember they only work on crabgrass and goosegrass, and not much else. as stated in a previous post, all this is just dancing around the issue- you had a bad install job. you do need to maintain the lawn, but you don’t want to cause a situation by which you don’t have a leg to stand on if you cause damage to the lawn, and the contractor blames you! also- not much in the fertilizer department now- just some 6-24-24 or whatever to strengthen the roots- definitely no nitrogen! you could have some warm spikes in your temps and screw up an already screwed up lawn!

Freshman – posted 09 December 2003 16:50

Hi Ted,

We had broadleaf weeds popping up everywhere, at first just in the gaps between sod pieces, then they spread into the sod pieces. I took samples of each type of weed to a local nursery and they recommended a spray to spot spray on the weeds. We did it several times, as they instructed, and the weeds are dying out–perhaps as much due to the cold snaps as the weed killer.

I went ahead and bought the preemergent to save a second trip later, I know it should be applied in early spring. They sold me something called Portrait Broadleaf Weed Preventer by a company called Green Light. I think they recommended this particular one because the sod is new. (I hope I am not breaking any rules by posting the names-??)

And yes, the real issue is the poor installation job and, on principle, we shouldn’t have to fix their problems. We are taking care not to damage the lawn, but I asked them at least five or six times for maintenance instructions and couldn’t get a response. Around the end of Oct. they finally showed up to replace the dead sod pieces and were supposed to address the most severe gaps, and the valleys and high places in the yard but did not. Realistically, I doubt that they are going to do anything more for us if the yard looks even halfway acceptable.

Thanks for keeping us straight on this–we are definitely newbies!

ted – posted 10 December 2003 10:40

yeah, you could try the roundup thing provided the temps were right as detailed above. but if it’s broadleaf weeds you’re better off using 24-d, again you can’t buy this in a formulation that will work, but that’s what needs to be used- it won’t hurt the bermuda at any time of year, provided it’s not above 90 degrees. as far as the pre-em goes you wouldn’t want to use what you bought. it won’t work on the weeds you’re describing, particularly at the time of year we’re in now. your best bet is to call a professional lawn care company that’s licensed to do chemical applications. they won’t fix your poor installation job, but they can deal with the “symptoms” from this messy job. then in the late spring, if you don’t like how the zoysia is coming around, then you can resod. you’re issue is that you’ve been getting the runaround from the sod installer all the way to the hardware store where you bought the pre-em. it’s not you fault, you’re obviously intelligent, it’s just a problem in the industry where everyone becomes the “instant lawn expert” just because they work at a hardware store! i’ve been doing this professionally for 20 years, and it can be really frustrating to do deal with this ” chasing your tail around” business. but those are the answers. you can also find info on the georgia university web sites.

Alex_in_FL (Lex) – posted 24 December 2003 08:39

Hi Freshman:

My advice was made under the assumption that: 1) the guy was unlikely to do any additional work, and 2) you did not want to redo the entire yard. Redoing the yard is fastest and obviously if you have $$ to burn that is a great idea. However, you can fix the yard in 1-2 years if you follow the information I posted earlier.

You will note that Ted and I disagree. You might want to call a zoysia grower in your area or doing some internet research. Ted mentions bermuda so that may be why we disagree. FYI – I am a chemist, chemical engineer, environmental engineer/manager, and a life long zoysia enthusiast (bigtime fan of zoysia) and my previous neighbor manages a Lesco store (Lesco is an agricultural chemcial manufacturer/supplier).

Hopefully you put down the pre-emerge you bought. According to the manufacturer, and Universities of Georgia and Univ of Florida, it is fine for zoysia. The brand you bought contains Gallery(TM). The active ingredient is “isoxaben.” See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/WG/WG07100.pdf.

You’ll need to apply a pre-emergent very early this spring. Too early is better than too late. A pre-emerge “prevents” weeds (it rarely kills existing weeds). Atlanta lawns (especially with your problems!) can use two applications (spring/fall) per year. Given your situation (gaps in turf, loads of weeds, etc) a pre-emergent is vital. Consider an extra application of pre-emerge 2-3 months later if you see much crabgrass (for this year only).

Most weed killers are safe for zoysia (see website cited above). Suggest using: 2,4-D (Ted and I agree on this); Bentazon; Imazaquin (trade name “Image”); Bromoxynil; or fluazifop (fluazifop mainly kills grassy weeds). You can even use MSMA; DSMA; or atrazine but these may cause minor/temporary injury. Most of these are available at Wal-mart, HomeDepot, Lowe’s, Target, Ace, etc. You will need a 2 gallon pump sprayer, measuring cup, and plastic gloves (recommended).

Use of Roundup (after zoysia goes dormant) is fine. You can even use it on actively growing zoysia (but I don’t recommend it) if you are reasonably careful (see http://www.palmetto-grass.com/research/research_emp_herbs_2000.shtml).

Of course, if you can get the guy to come back and fix the yard you are way ahead of the game. Otherwise, following the information in my first post will get your yard in reasonable shape in 1-2 years (and save you considerable amounts of money).

Regarding professional lawn services. Be very careful and find out exactly what chemicals they propose to use. Many are not familiar with zoysia.

Happy zoysia growing!!!!!!


Alex_in_FL (Lex) – posted 24 December 2003 08:43

Try this url instead:http://www.palmetto-grass.com/research/research_emp_herbs_2000.shtml

ted – posted 27 December 2003 11:22

Of course your a lawn expert, you’re an environmental engineer! The pre-emergents only work on a few weeds, and not for very long. they have absolutely no post-emergent effect. The Wal Marts and Lowes of this world don’t offer proper advice and the manufacturers water down the products so homeowners don’t kill themselves! You will still need to redo the lawn because of all of the bumpiness underneath the sod. You will have continual uneven places in the sod where mowers scalp and damage the sod. You will never have a quality lawn going back adn trying to fix the mistakes that were originally made. Call a Certified Turfgrass Professional or go to plcaa.org and find a reputable lawn care guy. They’re all over the place! Zoysia is very common in Atlanta and a qualifed chemical applicator will know exactly what to do in your situation. The only part you got right was the Lesco recommendation, but what do I know? While I’m not a environmental engineer, I’ve only been a licensed chemical lawn care operator for 20 years! I’m licensed in 6 states in the South, and am a Certified Turfgrass Profesional (CTP).

ted – posted 27 December 2003 11:24

p.s. Florida is a whole different world than Atlanta, products that work in one place will most definitely not work in others.

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