Problem area in Zoysia Z52 lawn

blumz(8a)July 3, 2008

We built and moved into a new home in October. We put in a zoysia Z52 lawn that was gorgeous when it was installed and continued to be gorgeous right up until it went dormant. This spring it has been beautiful and neighbors are always commenting on it. However, one very large area (approx. 15 ft. x 4 ft.) near the roadway suddenly began to look awful about 3 weeks ago. We are on a corner lot, so we have a lot of lawn that is adjacent to the roadway. Only in this one section does it look so bad. Close inspection shows brown foliage that is easily pulled, with very little green. It is well rooted and does not pull up easily, and I can see no evidence of insects. We bag all grass clippings to prevent buildup of thatch. We have had sufficient rain up until the past couple of weeks. We have run the irrigation system 3 times per week during this dry time. The soil feels sufficiently moist, just like the rest of the lawn, but looking at the grass itself, you'd think it wasn't being watered well. We have used the same lawn care company for feeding and weed prevention for several years. It has had 4 treatments since the first of the year ... the two earliest ones were pre-emergent for weed prevention, one time release fertilizer, one liquid application of iron and insecticide just last week (after the problem appeared).

We cut the grass at the recommended height for zoysia. We are totally at a loss as to the problem, and are very concerned that it is going to spread into the entire EXPENSIVE large lawn. Are there problems with this particular grass that are unique, that perhaps we are not aware of? We had learned, we thought, that this particular grass was the most trouble-free and beautiful of all.

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Dear Blumz

Thank you very much for your inquiry. I am sorry for your troubles. I have some questions as the answer here is not readily apparent. First, is the brown grass pattern in a shape or random? Is there green tissue at the base of the plant? Can you get a few pictures, both close up and far to put things into perspective? What state do you live in?


Trey Rogers, The Briggs & Stratton Yard Doctor,

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 5:14AM
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Sorry that the holiday kept me from getting back sooner. We live in Central Alabama. Zone 8a. We had regular good rain up until about 2 weeks ago, but our irrigation system seems to be keeping most of the lawn looking good. However, this very large area, which is continually growing, looks as if it is not being watered. I convinced my husband to use a garden tool to lift a section of the sod and I discovered that the soil in the original sod, which is very thick, is moist; however the soil underneath it is so dry, it appears that it hasn't received a drop of water in months. We then went to other places in the lawn that appeared to be in the beginning stages of the same thing .... lifted sections of sod and found the same thing.
The side yard where the problems are is on a slope, so you'd think the water would be running down and the lawn at the bottom would be in the best condition. However, the problem areas are at the bottom of the slope.

So apparently, lack of water is the problem, brought on by a soil problem. I don't know how were going to replace the soil in an entire lawn.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:46AM
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Dear Blumz,

Thank you very much for your inquiry. I am confused. If you have rooting and then dry areas then I would check irrigation coverage. There may be some gaps you are not aware of and do not present themselves until there is a dry period.

If there is little rooting, then there is a soil compatibility issue. The soil in your yard does not match the soil brought in with the sod. The soil on the sod will hold water and stay wet, it will not move easily into the original soil. This will hamper rooting and drainage.

The remedy for this is to have the soils not incompatible. Core cultivation is the answer. This will help the soils to be compatible. This should be done now and go over the yard at least two directions.

Again, thanks for the question and let me know if you have more.


Trey Rogers, The Briggs & Stratton Yard Doctor,

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 6:18PM
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Thank you for your response. For the past several days we have hand watered the problem area, in addition to the regular watering with the irrigation system. It appears to be improving with the additional water. Our builder has offered to have an additional sprinkler head installed that will better cover this area.

But even at that, there is obviously a problem with the two soils. The roots should have been able to establish themselves down into the existing soil in almost 10 months. What is core cultivation?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 9:21AM
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dallasbill(z8a - Dallas, TX)

I would suggest laying down some fine-screened compost in those areas then watering it in. Do it again in about 2 weeks. It will build up the soil there and help retain water, too. Then, add it each year to the whole lawn.

We have zoysia (Empire) for 3 years now, but are totally organic. It always greens up before the St. Aug. around us and tolerates drought and heat superbly.

Quit pulling it up, though. Unlike other grasses, zoysia goes dormant in a drought (like it's experiencing in your case, it sounds like). It does not die out like St. Aug. would. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Three weeks ago we laid Empire Zoysia sod down and watered it for the first two days. We first tilled the soil, then added topsoil before laying the sod. The location of the sod is on a lagoon one block from the Ocean in South Florida. The area has presently been receiving a lot of thunder storms. However, we left the home after a few days, forgetting to turn the sprinklers on. We were gone for five or six days and came back to a mostly brown lawn. Since then we have been watering it daily. Will the sod come back to its original green? What can we do? Thank you for your anticipated help.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Hello, I live in San Antonio Texas. We have put down a total of 45 pallets of Zoysia grass. The front was put in over a year ago and is established but the back was only put in 3 weeks ago. We are now going through a drought and are limited to watering. At this time we can only water once a week and as of next week it will change to every other week. We have been having temperatures up to 103 degrees. Our grass was a beautiful green and is now turning yellowish brown and some gray looking areas. I guess my question is without enough water will the Zoysia die or go dormant?

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 7:02PM
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Why does my grass have brown patches. Half the lawn is very green healthy grass I've used the correct fertilizer and pest control. I water everyday. We live in Tampa Bay, Florida so the weather is good, we get enough rain and heat. So everything should be good. What is the problem? Can you please advise me what to do?

- Joe

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 3:44PM
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