How to kill zoysia grass?

How to Kill Zoysia or Bermuda Grass

The aggressive growth of zoysia and Bermuda grasses make them very invasive species of grass. It is also a warm-season grass, meaning that it’s only green during the warm months of the year when it is actively growing, which also happens to be the best time to kill it. To effectively rid your yard of these pesky species and to reseed with a fescue or bluegrass, you’ll need to start earlier than you think. Follow the steps below to kill zoysia or wild Bermuda grass in your lawn.

Late July – Water and Feed the Grass

To kill zoysia and Bermuda grass the grass needs to be green and growing. This means we will kill the grass during its growing season in early August. However, preparation begins in late July. Since our summers can be hot and dry, it is recommended to fertilize and water the warm season grass areas two weeks in advance of the first application of herbicide. Water the grass a few times a week during the end of July, aiming to get at least a half inch of water down with each watering. Infrequent and deep waterings will produce better results than a little bit of water here and there.

Early August – Apply the Herbicide

Once the grass is actively growing and not stressed (aka, it’s nice and green and no longer has any brown), spray the areas of zoysia or Bermuda grass with Eraser, a non-selective herbicide, to kill all the grass and weeds. Be sure to use Stik-It while spraying Eraser to increase the effectiveness, and be sure to spray the Eraser at the rate specified on the label and not any heavier. Over applying can burn the leaves of the plant off and prevent the herbicide from getting to the roots of the plant.

Uncle’s tip: Do not mow the week prior to first application of Eraser. More leaf surface exposed to the herbicide will enhance its effectiveness.

Mid-August – Reapply the Herbicide

Ten to fourteen days after initial Eraser application, if you still see any green in the grass, spray those areas one more time with Eraser and wait another ten days. The lawn should now be nice and brown. Mow the lawn to remove any dead top growth and spray an additional application of Eraser to any newly emerging shoots. After mowing the lawn, rake up the dead debris and remove it from the yard.

Early September – Begin New Seeding

Now that the zoysia or Bermuda grass is gone, we’re ready to start seeding the yard. Aerating and verticutting the yard prior to overseeding is recommended. Overseed using the Grass Pad seed of your choice and fertilize with Golf Course Starter or Renovator. Repeat application of Golf Course Starter or Renovator 4 weeks later. Apply Snowman winter root builder in November.

See Related: Do a Total Lawn Restoration after killing unwanted grasses.

Removing Zoysia Grass: How To Contain Zoysia Grass

While zoysia grass is drought tolerant, holds up well to foot traffic, and provides thick coverage to lawn areas, these same qualities can also pose problems to homeowners. With its quick-spreading growth habit, zoysia grass can oftentimes invade and choke out neighboring yards and gardens. Therefore, it may be necessary to contain zoysia or even remove the grass to keep it under control.

Controlling Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass spreads through underground rhizomatous runners. One of the best ways to keep zoysia out of neighboring lawns or garden beds is to establish good borders. You can accomplish this by installing lawn edging that zoysia is unable to get through, such as plastic or aluminum. Place the edging in the ground at least six inches deep with another two or three inches above the ground to help keep zoysia within its boundaries.

Alternatively, those looking to simply eradicate the grass can instead treat the entire lawn area with a non-selective herbicide. While herbicide treatments usually begin in late summer, to achieve the best results, apply the herbicide while the grass is still green and actively growing.

Also, keep in mind that non-selective herbicides still have the potential to kill other plants on contact. Therefore, use it with caution when applying near garden plants.

Since zoysia is known to regrow, repeated applications will most likely be necessary. Treated areas will eventually turn brown and provided no more zoysia has popped up, it is generally safe to reseed the area within a couple weeks.

Removing Zoysia Grass

For those looking for a non-chemical form of removal, the only option is to remove the grass altogether with a sod cutter. This method works for both large and small areas; however, you may find that smaller areas make the task much easier to accomplish.

When removing zoysia grass this way, include some of the topsoil as well to limit the possibility of re-emergence. Once the grass has been removed, wait a couple weeks (removing any new shoots that appear) and then till the existing topsoil, adding more if needed, and reseed.

Zoysia grass is a great choice for warmer climates and large lawns where it is free to creep about without invading other nearby areas. However, for those that have already been ‘invaded’ by this quick spreader, containing zoysia grass or removing it altogether may be your only recourse.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Controlling unwanted Bermuda and zoysia grasses | The Kansas City Star

From Dennis Patton:

Say the words zoysia or Bermuda grass and you will get very strong reactions, ranging from “love it” to “invasive weed!” These warm season grasses are yard staples in the South.

But for us Northerners, we tend to prefer the cool season grasses, such as bluegrass and tall fescue. We enjoy their green color for long periods of time, while we despise the short season. We value the feeling of walking barefoot through the soft grass. And most of all, we dread the runners of the warm season grasses that invade our gardens or creep in from the neighbors.

Each year our office fields a number of questions from people wanting to rid their lawns of patches of these grasses that have engulfed the more desirable lawns. Control can be achieved successfully if the proper steps are taken. Luckily, now is the time to start the process of eradicating these “weeds” so that a new lawn can be established this fall.

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So how do you control Bermuda grass or zoysia that has invaded a cool-season lawn? Research conducted at K-State showed that glyphosate (Round-up, Kleen-up, Killzall and Kleeraway) are the best herbicides for the job. Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide and will kill everything — including tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass. That means you will need to reseed treated areas.

Glyphosate works best if Bermuda and zoysia is activity growing. If it is growing well and lush, the more chemical is taken up and pushed into the roots. Usually we recommend a week or more before treating, water the area well, maybe lightly fertilize, and even skip a mowing to develop more leaf surface area for absorbing the chemical. But this year, with all the rain, this step is not necessary as the grasses have been thriving.

Once the unwanted grass is up and growing and the lawn is not drought-stressed, spray and then wait for it to go to work. Spray again in a few days if there is any green left. Another tip to help increase control is to mow the lawn about two weeks after the first application. This removes the dead growth so that it does not impede the second application from reaching the newly emerging shoots.

After this second application, you will need to wait about two more weeks and reseed. If you follow this timetable, it will have you reseeding around the first week or two in September, which is the best time to establish a new lawn from seed. While waiting to reseed, you could have your soil tested to determine your pH levels and fertilizer needs. Johnson County residents can get one free soil test per Johnson County address, courtesy of a grant from Johnson County Stormwater Management. Visit for details.

So there you have it — the tricks and schedule to rid your lawn of the unwanted invaders.

Zoysia: Is It The Right Lawn For You?

One of few native Australian lawn varieties, zoysia is a staple grass seed found in any good lawn seed supplier’s range. But is it the right choice for your backyard?

Like any plant, it might grow and thrive in some yards, creating the dream lawn, where in others it might struggle, creating more of a headache than it’s worth. So before you go sowing zoysia seeds into your patch, here’s its benefits and its drawbacks to help you decide whether it’s the right choice.


Zoysia is a warm season grass, and, being native to Northern Australia, thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. This can be a relief for residents of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and northern Western Australia who often find that most lawn varieties can’t tolerate their climates!

Not only does zoysia love the warmer climes of northern Australia, it’s often the better choice over some of its warm season counterparts. Couch and kikuyu grasses aren’t tolerant of shade, whereas zoysia doesn’t mind hiding from the sun at all. Shady patches in warm climates are ideal for zoysia.

Hardy and low maintenance, as long as you’ve got the right climate, zoysia will establish itself and then require very little effort from you. The soil you plant it in doesn’t need to be particularly fertile, and you won’t need to fertilise it more than twice a year.

This low maintenance quality extends to watering as well. Zoysia is beyond drought tolerant; it actually doesn’t really like to be watered! Unless your area is going through a particularly dry spell you shouldn’t need to water at all, whatever rain you get should be enough.

Zoysia grows as a thick, low mat. Not only does this mean that it effectively smothers out any weeds that might try to grow, it also doesn’t grow too tall which makes the need to mow infrequent. Low maintenance indeed! Zoysia is a slow growing grass. The advantage of this is that it won’t invade other areas of your garden before you can get on top of it.

Possibly the best quality of zoysia overall is that it is soft to the touch and lovely to look at. Any zoysia lawn will look impressive to visitors and neighbours whilst providing a comfortable play space for kids and pets.


Zoysia’s disadvantages mostly stem from its advantages. Trying to grow zoysia in an unsuitable climate can be as unsuccessful and frustrating as growing it in a suitable climate is rewarding.

Zoysia does not tolerate frost at all and can struggle in particularly cold spells. Trying to grow zoysia in temperate regions can bring out this flaw. Long, cold and rainy winters could be the end of your prized patch of lawn.

Whilst low maintenance once it’s established, it’s getting to that point that can be tricky with zoysia. The slow-growing nature is great for infrequent mowing and avoiding invasion into other areas, but it is also the root cause of most of zoysia’s drawbacks. Establishing zoysia takes a long time. If you’re looking to grow a lawn quickly, zoysia is not for you. You will need to stay off the patch for multiple weeks before your zoysia will be strong enough to handle any foot traffic.

Slow growing also means slow recovery. If your lawn does succumb to frost, pests, or bad weather, it’ll take a while for the grass to regenerate. Whilst it does handle the traffic of a regular backyard, it won’t handle heavy wear and tear. So if you’re looking to plant a football field or if you have dogs who like to dig, zoysia is not for you!

So, if you’re in a tropical or sub-tropical region of Australia where frosts, heavy rains, or long periods of cold aren’t a problem, zoysia could be the perfect lawn for you. Once it is established it is low maintenance, drought and pesticide resistant, and will keep your yard green and lush. As with any grass variety, zoysia has its drawbacks. Zoysia’s slow-growing nature means that it takes a long time to recover from any damage.

At the end of the day, if the climate is right for zoysia, it’ll be a dream. Just make sure that zoysia will do well in your backyard and you’ll have no troubles at all! Talk to the team at McKays to see if zoysia is the perfect seed for you.

How to Keep Zoysia Grass Out of Flowerbeds

flower garden image by jc from

Zoysia grass is a warm-season turf grass. It grows rapidly, and thickly, and can stand a fair amount of abuse. Unfortunately, the qualities that make zoysia a desirable lawn grass also make it a frustrating garden pest. Zoysia grass often outgrows the confines of the lawn. And no matter how many times you edge, pull, dig or spray, it keeps coming back. The only way to keep zoysia grass out of your flower bed for good is to create an impenetrable barrier around it.

Remove all of the zoysia grass currently invading your garden. If the grass does not interfere with any of your plants’ roots, dig it up (roots and all) with a spade. If removing the grass may harm your plants, use a small paintbrush to paint a glyphosate herbicide on the individual blades. Spraying the grass may kill your plants.

Edge your lawn. Use a lawn edger to create a clear, even border between the garden and the lawn.

Install black plastic lawn edging along the lawn/garden border. Use edging that is at least 5 inches deep. Use a sharp kitchen knife or other tool to cut a trench that is just as wide as the edging, roughly 6 inches deep and at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Then, push the edging into the ground so the top of the edging is flush with the soil line. Cover the top of the edging with a layer of garden soil to help hold it down.

Spread a 1-inch layer of organic mulch over the flowerbed. This will keep any dormant zoysia grass seeds or stolons from germinating.

Care and Maintenance for Your Zoysia Lawn

Zoysia is one of the favourite grass seed types for Australian lawns. It’s dense and soft with a lovely green colour that is nice to look at, and, when established properly, it is drought and heat tolerant and can happily withstand heavy foot traffic.


Zoysia has a high silica content which means that the longer the blade of grass is allowed to grow, the stronger it becomes. As such, healthy zoysia lawns are typically kept at a height of about 3 to 5 centimetres. This is what makes it so comfy to sit, lay and play on.

When mowing zoysia it’s important not to trim any more than 1/3 of the blade length off of the grass. So, if your lawn is at 6cm tall, only trim it to 4cm. In summer months it’s a good idea to keep your grass length a bit longer – this will keep your lawn healthier.

Zoysia tends not to need as much mowing as some other grass varieties, giving you more time to spend enjoying the lawn instead of mowing it. Depending on how much water, sunlight, and fertiliser it gets, you’re probably looking at once a week to once a fortnight for mowing.


Dethatching is critical for keeping your zoysia lawn healthy. Thatch is the term given to the layer of partially decomposed plant material which builds up on the soil surface. Zoysia is prone to thatch build up because of its tough stem.

Thatch can prevent sun, nutrients, and water from making it into the soil, depriving the lawn of these essentials. Whenever you notice thatch building up, remove it with a dethatcher or rake. Mowing with a bagger can prevent it accumulating so quickly.


Zoysia is very drought resistant and doesn’t need much watering. If you’re in an area with reasonable rainfall you mightn’t even need to water your lawn. Usually, a zoysia lawn will need about 2cm per week for good growth.

It’s best to only water zoysia when there’s signs that it needs it. To check if the lawn needs watering, look at the leaf blades. If they’re curling inwards, give the lawn a water.


Like water, zoysia doesn’t need much fertilising. Fertilising when not needed won’t benefit your lawn, it’ll just promote thatch, be more difficult to mow, and need mowing more frequently.

The best type of fertiliser for zoysia is a slow release granular fertiliser with a 3-1-2 N-P-K ratio. That means 3 parts nitrogen to 1 part phosphorus to 2 parts potassium. Fertilise once every 4 to 6 weeks in the growing season (summer) for up to 4 applications. That should be plenty.

It’s important not to fertilise in winter. This might encourage your lawn to break its dormant spell which will make it very vulnerable to any subsequent freezing temperatures.

Pests and Weeds

Zoysia isn’t a grass that’s often overrun by weeds and pests. Sometimes it may succumb to some dollar spot or insect infestation, but these are usually easily brought to bay with some simply applied treatment. If you see signs of infestation, get it diagnosed and apply the appropriate treatment.

The most important thing to remember when applying herbicide or pesticide to a zoysia lawn is to only ever use products which are approved for use on zoysia, or you may find yourself with no lawn left.

The dense covering of zoysia means that it tends to keep weeds under control all by itself. Never use herbicide before planting zoysia or while it is still establishing itself – it may not be strong enough to handle it.

Applying a herbicide in autumn and early spring can sort out any weeds that might potentially be a problem.

Care Over Winter

Arguably the biggest drawback of zoysia is that it browns off during the winter months and goes dormant. There really is no cure for this, and it needs to be taken into consideration before you select zoysia as the lawn seed for you.

The best thing you can do to maintain a healthy zoysia lawn over winter is to overseed and use a cold weather grass type for the winter months. The cold weather grass (usually tall fescue) will spring to life in winter and let the zoysia rest, only to go dormant in summer when your zoysia comes back to life.

Zoysia Turf


  • Low maintenance
  • High water efficiency/ Drought tolerant
  • Salt tolerant
  • Shade tolerant
  • Attractive dark green colour
  • Used for erosion control

For a homeowner wanting a lawn that requires less mowing, is water-wise and hard wearing and has an eye-catching dark green colour – Zoysia grass is your answer.

This popular grass has a deep-rooted, underground runner system that allows Zoysia turf to endure extreme climates such as heat, humidity and sub-zero temperatures.

Zoysia turf can also survive on little rainfall and is ideal for regions with water restrictions.

While being a hardy lawn, Zoysia grass also has a fine to medium leaf which is soft underfoot.

Compared to Couch and Kikuyu varieties, Zoysia grass also has a reputation for strengthening soil profiles and improving erosion control.

The Zoysia lawn has also proven itself to be extremely popular to homeowners who want a good-looking, low maintenance grass that requires less mowing, weeding and fertiliser compared to Kikuyu, Couch or Buffalo lawns.

Low Maintenance

One of the stand-out features of Zoysia grass is its low maintenance.

Mowing frequency is well below that of other lawn varieties and depends on how long you want your Zoysia grass to grow.

If you want a slow-growing Zoysia grass, then minimal or no fertiliser is recommended.

Drought Tolerance

Zoysia grass is more drought tolerant and water efficient than Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo varieties.

In fact, Zoysia turf can survive on natural rainfall thanks to its deep-rooted system.

Wear Tolerance

Zoysia turf has excellent fast initial growth that spreads across the ground with highly branching runners that provide excellent wear recovery.

Shade Tolerance

Zoysia turf has good to moderate shade tolerance, up to 50%, which is higher than both Couch and Kikuyu varieties.

Salt Tolerance

Zoysia grasses have naturally adapted to saline conditions making them ideal for coastal homes or alongside salt swimming pools.

Dark Green Color

While Zoysia grasses are a tough, hardy lawn they also have an attractive, good-lasting bright green colour that is maintained year-round.

Erosion Control

Zoysia lawns are an outstanding choice for erosion prevention and control with many proving themselves to effectively strengthen the soil’s structure making them ideal for steep embankments.


myhomeTURF has two of the most popular Zoysia grasses on the market – both are ideally suited to the harsh Australian conditions but also maintain an attractive green colour.

Empire Zoysia

Empire®Zoysia – Stunning to look at, easy to keep. Empire Zoysia is a stalwart turf variety that outperforms other popular grasses providing good wear recovery and requiring less water and lower maintenance.

When compared to Kikuyu, Couch and Buffalo, Empire Zoysia requires less mowing, fertiliser, pesticides and dethatching. Empire Zoysia is also recognised for its eye-catching dark green colour and fine, tight leaf blades that are soft underfoot.

Empire Zoysia also meets the Erosion Control Australian Standard No#AS5181:2017 Use and installation of turf as an erosion, nutrient and sediment control measure.

Where it grows: Empire Zoysia grows well in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Your local Empire Grower suppliers can easily be found with our online supplier locator tool.

Expect to pay: Between $12 and $16 per square metre. To get more Empire Zoysia pricing info, visit our Empire Zoysia info page and get 3 quotes from your local Empire growers today.

Nara Native Zoysia

Nara Native®Zoysia – Australian born and bred. Nara Native Zoysia is fast becoming Australia’s Number One native environmentally friendly choice thanks to its integration into the natural landscape.

Nara Native Zoysia has the added benefits of low maintenance, strong weed and pest resistance, outstanding drought, salt and wear tolerance as well as maintaining a strong winter colour.

Nara Native Zoysia also meets the Erosion Control Australian Standard No#As5181:2017 Use and installation of turf as an erosion, nutrient and sediment control measure.

Where it grows: Nara Native Zoysia grows well in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Your local Nara Grower suppliers can easily be found with our online supplier locator tool.

Expect to pay: Between $11 and $16 per square metre. To get more Nara Zoysia pricing info, visit our Nara Zoysia info page and get 3 quotes from your local growers today.

Best Planting Time for Zoysia Grass

The best planting time for all Zoysia grasses is when the weather is not too cold, but it can be laid anytime in both Queensland and New South Wales.

When planted in warmer weather Zoysia turf will establish relatively quickly.

Zoysia grasses may take a week longer to establish than other varieties of lawn if planted in early spring or autumn, but they are much less work!



Zoysia grasses are best known for being able to be mowed long or short depending on the desired finish.

As a general rule, mow your Zoysia turf every 7 – 21 days during spring and summer depending on the frequency of fertiliser application.

During autumn and winter, mow your Zoysia lawn every 3 – 4 weeks.

Always ensure you mow your Zoysia grass to a height that does not cause scalping, such as 35mm -45mm.

Zoysia grasses also require less edging around gardens compare to Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo lawns.

Watering your new lawn

Newly installed Zoysia grass requires watering for establishment.

Apply at least 2cm to 3cm to newly laid Zoysia grass, ensuring you water deep enough to soak the soil to between 7cm to 10cm.

If you want to learn more about watering, make sure to read out guide to watering a new lawn.

Watering an Established Lawn

Established Zoysia grass can maintain itself on little to no water – making it an ideal choice for low rainfall areas or regions prone to drought.

However, if you would like to maintain a lush, green lawn water thoroughly when the Zoysia lawn’s leaf blades begin to slightly wilt – this is usually every 7-10 days in summer and much less in cooler months.

Following an extended dry spell, Zoysia grass recovers much more quickly than all other turf varieties.


Zoysia lawns require minimal fertiliser to maintain an acceptable healthy grass.

If your Zoysia lawn will receive moderate wear, you want it to maintain good winter colour and have low to moderate mowing; fertilise at the beginning of April and mid-June with a slow-release fertiliser.

If your Zoysia lawn will get high wear, you want it to remain dark green year-round and you don’t mind regular mowing; fertilise in autumn and winter as well as September and October with a moderate rate or slow-release fertiliser.

For homeowners who want a low maintenance Zoysia lawn that they mow 2 to 4 times a year, then do not fertilise at all.

Weed Control

Control of weeds in Zoysia grass is much easier than in Kikuyu, Buffalo and even Couch due to its healthy dense structure.

If a few weeds invade your lawn, then hand weed, and if they become a greater issue ask your Local Garden Centre for advice as to which herbicide to use.


Zoysia grass is far less susceptible to Lawn Grub than Buffalo, Couch and Kikuyu lawns.

Occasionally you may see caterpillars, or if you are in Queensland the occasional Mealy Bug, if this occurs consult your Local Garden Centre for advice as to which pesticide suits your Zoysia grass variety.


Most Zoysia grasses are relatively resistant to diseases.

The most common disease problems in Zoysia grasses are Brown Patch, Leaf Sport and Rust.

Brown Patch causes patches of Zoysia grass to dye off, these dead patches start small but can quickly spread during warm conditions.

Brown Patch is clearly identified in Zoysia grass due to its distinct brown ring that encircles a green centre.

Keeping your Zoysia grass healthy helps prevent Brown Patch from occurring, however there are fungicides available – seek advice from your Local Garden Centre first.

Leaf Spot on Zoysia grass can occur during warm days, cool nights and lack of proper fertiliser.

Leaf Spot causes small lesions on the Zoysia grass’ blades with distinct patterns which under close inspection could look spotty.

To alleviate Leaf Spot on Zoysia grass apply fertiliser and water deeply once a week.

Rust in Zoysia grass often develops during cool, moist conditions and looks like an orange, powdery-like substance.

The most effective control method for Rust on Zoysia grass is to use an appropriate fungicide.

To prevent Rust from spreading over your Zoysia lawn retrieve all grass clippings after mowing.


  • What is Zoysia grass? Zoysia grass is a warm season grass that requires very little maintenance and copes with much less water than all other turf varieties.
  • Which Zoysia grass is best? In terms of adapting to Australia’s tough climate, Empire Zoysia and Nara Native Zoysia are two of the best grass choices.
  • Is Zoysia grass durable? Due to Zoysia grass’ deep rooted underground runners it is a very durable grass.
  • Where does Zoysia grass grow best? Zoysia grasses grow best in all states except Tasmania.
  • Is Zoysia grass hard to grow? Zoysia grass is one of the easiest grasses to grow as it requires little input and maintenance.
  • Will Zoysia grass grow in the shade? In low wear areas, Zoysia grass has up to 50% shade tolerance.
  • How far will Zoysia spread? Zoysia grass requires less edging than Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo and is a safe choice for around gardens.
  • When should you plant Zoysia grass? Zoysia grass can be planted anytime in Queensland and New South Wales but is best planted in the summer in all other states.
  • How often do you water Zoysia grass? You water Zoysia grass as often as you require and depending on how lush and green you want it to look – its water requirements are very low.
  • Will Zoysia choke out weeds? Zoysia grasses have a dense ground coverage which generally prevents weeds from coming through.
  • Does Zoysia need full sun? Zoysia grass survives in up to 50% shade but like most lawns is ideally suit for full sun conditions.
  • Does Zoysia grass die in winter? Zoysia grasses can brown off and become dormant during winter but their recovery rate, once water is re-applied during spring, is quicker than other turf varieties.
  • Which Zoysia is best for the shade? Both Empire Zoysia and Nara Native Zoysia are ideally suited for up to 50% shade cover.


General Turf and Weed Info

Lawn Care Calendars

THREE METHODS There are three primary methods of controlling weeds. Any one method, when used alone, will not usually control all of your weeds. To consistently control weeds you must use a combination of all three practices. The references above give specific information on lawn grasses and lawn weeds to help you devise a line of attack.

HEALTHY LAWN The first line of defense against weeds is to follow good growing practices that promote vigorous growth and development of the turfgrass or other plants. Weeds do not easily invade lawns that are properly fertilized, watered and mowed at the correct height and frequency. Weeds usually appear first in bare or thin areas of the turfgrass.

MECHANICAL If your grass can’t oust the invaders, you can lend a little mechanical help. Many weed species do not tolerate frequent mowing. Adhere to the mowing frequency and cutting height guidelines developed by experts to limit the development of weeds. Hand pulling annual weeds is effective, enjoyable and good exercise to boot. However, it is too time consuming and not very effective in controlling most perennial weeds. Hand pulling a strange or a new weed when it first appears in the lawn will help to prevent the spread of that weed later this year.

CHEMICAL Herbicides are chemicals that are used to control the growth and development of a weed. Before a herbicide is labeled for use in a home lawn it is thoroughly investigated by chemical companies, university researchers and various federal agencies. Herbicides must be proven safe to humans, the environment and the turfgrass and must be effective in destroying the weeds. Herbicides are important if not irreplaceable components of a lawn weed control program. Weed killers are applied at specific times of the year and will control only certain weed species. Also, many herbicides cannot be used on every kind of turfgrass. The product label is the best reference for safe and effective use of any weed killer. Always read the label prior to using a turfgrass herbicide.

For a specific plan of how to control weeds in your lawn you need to note three things. You need to know what type of turfgrass you have. You need to know what type of weed you have and then you need to know what your control options are in your environment.

BROADLEAF WEEDS In general, there are two types of weed leaves: broadleaf and grassy. The flourishing chickweed I have in a backyard flower bed is an example of a broadleaf weed. Others include henbit, dandelion, spurge and wild onion. Broadleaf weeds are easy to distinguish in a lawn. After all, they’re not a grass so they must be a weed! Broadleaf weeds react differently than grassy plants to herbicides. That’s an important point to remember as you make your scheme.

GRASSY WEEDS The thin emerald leaves of annual bluegrass show in patches in my lawn. Contrasting with the brown St. Augustine, they are easy to spot. In summer, my neighbor notices the coarse grassy appearance of crabgrass, dallisgrass and bahiagrass in his fescue. Grassy weeds aren’t as noticeable as broadleaf weeds but if you walk your lawn regularly you’ll come to recognize what you want and what you don’t want there.

Weed control in zoysiagrass occurs in two ways: by preventing the weed seed from germinating each year and by killing weeds that already exist.

Products known as pre-emergent weed killers are used to prevent weed seed from germinating. There are several different chemicals and products available. They differ in the kinds of weed seed they control and the length of time the product remains active.

Pre-emergents should be applied before the weed seed germinate. For summer weeds, Like crabgrass, apply the chemical in spring after night temperatures have been in the 60’s for four days around the time forsythias bloom. For winter weeds, like annual bluegrass, apply the preemergent in early October. Most products need to be watered into the soil after application.

Other weed killers are used after the weeds have emerged. There are different products for grassy weeds, like goose grass and broad leafed weeds, like dandelions. Onions are considered a broad leafed weed. These post emergent chemicals are used when the weeds are actively growing, early in the summer.

It is important to know the name of the weed you are trying to control before using any weed control chemical. Once you know the weed, it is simple to read the label of a weed control product to see if it works on your weed. Also be sure to check and see if the chemical can be applied to your lawn grass without harming it. Never apply more of the chemical than the label recommends. Double doses of herbicide can kill your entire lawn before you know it.

Moss does not kill or crowd out zoysiagrass. Moss grows in places where bermudagrass can not grow because it is too shady or wet. The best way to control moss is to change the environment so the soil dries faster. This can be done by scraping up the moss, digging the soil and planting fescue again. Lime and other moss control chemicals will kill moss for a short time but they are only band-aid solutions. If the soil is dry, moss will not return.

WEED ‘N’ FEED PRODUCTS: In general, use of “Weed ‘N’ Feed” products results in applying one of the ingredients at the wrong time. Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass lawns should be fertilized during or after green-up. Weed preventers should be applied to these lawns before they green-up. On fescue, a “Weed ‘N’ Feed” having a broad-leaf weed killer could be used in fall – but make sure the lawn is damp so the weed killer clings to the weed leaves.

LABELS ARE NOT JUST FOR DECORATION: The label on any lawn product is there to give you valuable information on how the fertilizer or herbicide or grass seed should be used. Before you purchase any product, read the label to make sure the product does what you want and can be used on your lawn grass. Don’t believe that “If one tablespoon is good, two tablespoons is better!”. Putting down too much herbicide can severely damage even the toughest lawn grass!

ANNUAL BLUEGRASS (Poa annua): The annual nature of this weed supplies its most noxious habit: It re-seeds prolifically. Annual bluegrass is outwardly attractive in the winter, but just wait until April. The thick mat of bluegrass will choke out the better turf underneath. Every blade (of which there are thousands) seems to be covered with seeds in May. These seed are carried by animals, water and lawnmowers to other parts of the lawn. When hot weather comes, the bluegrass dies, leaving a large bare spot and a legacy of thousands of seeds for next fall. The best control for annual bluegrass is to apply a pre-emergent weed chemical in mid-September. The pre-emergent will prevent seeds from germinating. If bluegrass is present in spring, the best control is to kill it with a non-selective herbicide (RoundUp, Roots & All, Finale) before it forms seed. Don’t try to drench the soil; just a mist of spray on the foliage is enough.

Another way to control annual bluegrass in bermudagrass is to wrap an old cotton towel around the end of a garden rake. Tie in place with string and dampen the towel with Roundup. Use the tool to “paint” weedkiller onto green weed foliage while avoiding the turfgrass. Discard the cloth when the job is finished by wrapping in plastic bags and putting it out for your municipal garbage collection.

CHICKWEED: Chickweed is another winter annual weed. It can be controlled with a pre-emergent such as isoxaben (Portrait). In addition, chickweed can be killed with herbicides that selectively kill broadleaf plants in lawns. In particular, herbicides with the active ingredients 2,4-D and MCPP work well on chickweed. These chemicals can be used on grass that is not dormant, including fescue. Do not use on a fall-seeded fescue lawn until it has been mowed four times.

WILD ONIONS: Scientifically, the plant is a wild garlic, but the visual effect is the same. Clumps of green wild onions can ruin the appearance of a soft, brown Bermuda lawn. Onions reproduce by seeds as well as via the bulblets underground. Because dormant bulblets can sprout in future months, control will take two sprays in spring, at six-week intervals, with either a non-selective weedkiller (RoundUp, Finale) or a herbicide labeled for broadleaf weeds (Weed B Gon, Wipe Out, etc). Follow with two sprays in fall, beginning when the onion foliage emerges. The chemical imazaquin (Image) can also be used for wild onion control. DO NOT apply when turfgrass is emerging from winter dormancy. DO NOT apply to newly planted or sprigged turfgrasses.


Q: How can I get nutsedge and crabgrass out of my zoysiagrass lawn?

A: Nutsedge is much tougher to control than crabgrass. Fortunately, you can mix two herbicides and get good control of nutsedge and excellent control of crabgrass. Use imazaquin (Image) and MSMA (Crab-E-Rad) in your sprayer. You’ll need three applications spaced ten days apart. Some zoysia discoloration will occur, so water the lawn thoroughly two days after application to keep the grass healthy.


Q: How do I control wild violets in my zoysiagrass lawn?

A: Violets are difficult to control; the best you can hope for is simply managing the population. Broad-leaf weed killers (Weed ‘B’ Gon, Trimec) give only fair results. You can increase the herbicide’s effectiveness by spraying three times at one month intervals. One important precaution is to avoid spraying when turf is greening-up. Wait until your grass is fully green in late April. Also avoid using weed chemicals during a drought. The violets will take up the herbicide best when they are growing strongly.

Q: In past years I have spread fertilizer with a pre-emergent on my lawn this time of year to help keep the poa annua down. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been digging up parts of my yard (expanding existing beds) and have been taking the sod and patching in some bare spots in the yard. Now I’m concerned that the pre-emergent I usually put down will cause the sod roots difficulty in getting established. Have you any thoughts on this?

A: No worries. Pre-emergent works by creating a thin layer of chemical just at the soil surface. This layer of chemical keeps any weed seeds below from germinating.

Since you have been putting down sod, not seed, the only thing that will be affected are the weed seeds that have not yet sprouted. Keep any brand new sod watered and all will be well.


Several readers have asked if imazaquin (Image) herbicide can be used on grasses other than bermuda. Image can be used on zoysia and centipede lawns but it can not be sprayed on fescue turf. Severe damage will result if it is applied to fescue. Also, be sure to follow the instructions on the Image label for spray frequency – do it no more than every six weeks.

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Getting rid of Zoysiagrass from your cool season lawn

Whether you, a previous owner installed it, or a neighbor has it in their yard and it is now making it’s way across your lawn, you know how unsightly Zoysiagrass can be in cooler areas of the country. Long before winter sets in, Zoysiagrass has already turned a straw-brown and remains that way long after the cool season grass has turned a lush green.

If you live where cool season grasses are the norm and have Zoysiagrass in your lawn and you want to get rid of it, here’s a few tips that might help. But be warned, it’s not pretty or easy.

In late summer, typically around early August, you have to begin the process. It requires killing the entire lawn with a non-selective herbicide. You have to be careful with this as it will kill desirable plants as well. Spray on a calm day, and FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY. Apply the herbicide evenly and consistently so you don’t miss any spots.

This step one should turn everything into a straw brown. Once it has died back, mow the dead lawn as low as possible (1/2″ if possible). Wait for 2 – 3 weeks. Zoysiagrass will begin reemerging. Wait another week and reapply the herbicide again to any of the new growth. Wait another two weeks and again reapply the herbicide if you see any new growth.

After going through the herbicide and wait process 3 times, it is now time to begin the renovation process. You don’t need to remove the dead grass. Leave it in place. If you have compacted soil, aerate heavily. Then re-seed and follow label directions on the seed.

If you don’t have compacted soil, you can use a slit-seeder that cuts small slits in the soils surface and drops the seed into place. Run it left to right once and then top to bottom.

Another option is to remove the sod with a sod cutter. Include a small layer of top soil if possible. This will work for either small or large areas. Once the sod is removed, wait several weeks to make sure no new seedlings emerge. If they do, use high strength Roundup. After the 2 weeks, either reinstall new sod, or add top soil and till in with existing top soil. Re-seed.

If after reading this, you’ve decided to live with the Zoysia and all of it’s nasty habits, you can always hire a professional to do the job for you. Pros have a lot of experience renovating lawns and can handle just about any problem that arises. By the end of October, you should have a beautiful lawn that will only improve next season and the season after.

getting rid of zoysia grass

Thanks for contacting Delaware Extension. You are on the right track. Several treatments with glyphosate at two week intervals is effective in killing Zoysia Grass. Zoysia is a warm season grass and will be entering its normal peak growth period in July. Still, it would be a good idea to scalp the dead grass as you are doing but to wait to lay sod until you are sure that all of the unwanted growth has been dealt with. This will take you well into June before you can renovate the soil and lay sod. Turf type tall Fescue is the sod of choice in Delaware. It is a cool season grass. For best success sod should not be laid on compacted soil or where any grass or weeds are actively growing. If you are sodding a large area, you may want to take this opportunity to get the soil tested. Instructions for doing this can be found at Till the area that you plan to sod to a depth of 3 to 4 inches when it is not too dry or wet. Remove all debris including grass clumps that result. Zoysia Grass has deep, dense roots so it is likely that you will find at least some material after tilling. It is at this point that you can add any amendments recommended by the soil test lab. Hand rake the area to create a uniform surface. If the soil or air temperature is high (90 degrees or more) lightly water the soil immediately before installation. After you have laid the sod, made sure the seams are tight and have rolled it to make sure the sod has made uniform contact with the soil, water the soil deeply. An in-depth watering is essential after the the sod is laid. After that regular watering will be needed until the grass roots are established. I hope you find this helpful. Please let me know if you have further questions.

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