First mowing of season (and subsequent maintenence)

ljbrandt(8)March 24, 2010

After doing a good amount of research on how to maintain zoysiagrass, there seems to be differing opinions on when to mow zoysia at the beginning of the season and also what height to maintain it. Since this is the 2nd year I'll be following an organic lawn care program, I'd like to get some consensus from the organic folks! One thing that everybody agrees is to avoid stressing the grass by taking no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time.

The following are recommendations I've found for the first mowing of the season:

1. Mow the lawn when it first turns green in the spring using a reel mower set at 3/4 to 1 inch or a rotary mower set as low as possible without scalping the lawn. Mow before the grass grows taller than 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Recycle nutrients by not collecting clippings unless they are unsightly or in clumps. (

2. Begin mowing when weeds and/or Zoysia seedlings are 2½ to 3 inches high and mow as frequently as necessary for good appearance. (

3. It is best to start at a 1 inch height in spring and gradually raise the height when hot weather arrives. Research indicates that a height of 2 inches is best when growing zoysia in partial shade. (

4. First mowing should be done while the Zoysia is still dormant. Mow at about the 1" height to remove as much dead top growth as possible. (

Geez...which one do I pick?!

Also, pretty much everywhere I've read, they say that zoysia should be maintained at a height of 1.5 to 2 inches with preference to 2" in shadier areas. Although others have suggested "mowing high" as a cultural practice and go up to 3"...hmmm.

Lastly, as far as a fertilizer schedule goes with zoysia, most people warn about excessive fertilizing (due to thatch buildup) and recommend only feeding the grass twice during the growing season. I assume this applies only to synthetics and not organics since the microbes usually take care of thatch in an organic program. Either way, what would you guys suggest for this type of grass?

As a reward for reading this wall of text :-), here's a picture of the current state of my front lawn:

As you can see, it's a little lumpy and recovering from some brown patch last year, but it appears to be coming out of dormancy now...time to mow or wait until it's much higher?

Also, you can probably see all the little leaf bits I mulched into it last Fall :-)

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I tried letting my zoysia go unmowed. After a few months I discovered that the actual blades only grow about 1.5 inches long, but the "thatch" underneath grows as high as it can. So when I trimmed it down with the string trimmer, it lost all the green and stayed brown for weeks. With that background I would tend to mow much lower - like an inch, and see how that goes.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:44AM
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Thanks. It's funny you mentioned that because that is precisely what happened to me last year. I'll start it off low around 1" and keep my eye on things from there. Did you find one particular grain fertilizer worked any better than another SBM vs. alfalfa?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 1:24AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I think zoysia is like bermuda in that it can stand to be mowed very (VERY) low. That might depend on the variety, but my zoysia is spreading into areas where it gets a lot of traffic. In those areas it is very low growing and it looks better there.

I did not fertilize my zoysia like I fertilize the rest of my lawn. It was an experiment and still is.

My favorite fertilizer is whatever comes the cheapest at the feed store. So far for me that has always been ordinary corn meal. I have tried to change it up a little with corn gluten meal and alfalfa. I can't get soybean meal here. Sometimes I get explosive growth and other times not so much. I don't know why.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 2:03PM
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