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How to Get Your Newly Sodded Zoysia Off to a Healthy Start

new sod installation two men laying sod home lawn

Zoysia grass is a great choice for home lawns if you live in the southern two-thirds of the United States or up into the transition zone. This variety is a warm season turfgrass that tolerates both drought and cooler temperatures. If you are still in the decision-making process, be sure to read our Sod University article, All About Zoysia Sod. You can also check out our Sod Sales tool below and enter your address to get started with finding the best grass for your needs. This particular article, however, goes into further detail about the establishment process for zoysia that takes place after installation.

About Zoysia Establishment

Your new grass’s establishment period takes place after installation and lasts for the next 30 days. Once these 30 days are up, you can begin to transition your zoysia to a regular maintenance schedule. Refer to our Zoysia Homeowner Maintenance Guide for more details on regular maintenance.

Zoysia is one of the grasses that can be installed in a variety of ways: sod, seed, sprigs, stolons or grass plugs. Creating a zoysia grass lawn from seed has always been difficult, however, because only a small percentage of the seed will successfully germinate and it is extremely sensitive to light. Seeded varieties also produce medium to coarse-textured turf and has an uneven growth habit that occasionally forms mounds.

Sod is the most popular option—it is also the fastest and more expensive of choices. Although installation with sprigs and grass plugs are often cheaper, it takes several seasons to grow in fully. For more information, read When to Use Sod, Plugs or Seed.

Empire Sod Piece Roots Close Up

Pictured above: A piece of EMPIRE Zoysia sod.

When to Fertilize Newly Sodded Zoysia

Fertilizing your zoysia with the proper nutrients is really important during the establishment phase. Sod University recommends the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box, which is a great zoysia fertilizer designed for new sod. Powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, Lawnifi is a fertilizer program that nano-sizes its nutrients to use less product with better results. The New Lawn Starter Box contains three bottles of fertilizer each designed to help your new lawn establish thick, healthy grass. You can learn more about Lawnifi in Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.

Lawnifi New Lawn Box bottles on outside deck
When to Water Newly Sodded Zoysia

Watering your new zoysia lawn is even more important than fertilizer. Grass needs three things for basic survival: water, soil and sunlight. During the first 10 days, you will want to water your zoysia twice a day—once in the morning and again in the evening for about 20 minutes each. Starting on day 10, you can reduce your watering schedule to once per day. This can be further reduced to once every other day on day 13 and again on day 16 to one inch of water per week. It’s crucial that each area of your lawn receives enough water from your sprinkler system. Conducting an irrigation audit really helps with seeing exactly which areas of your lawn are receiving the most and the least amounts of water.

During each “watering session,” be sure to water for a long enough time to allow it to seep deep into the soil to be available to the root zone. This usually takes about 20 minutes for most irrigation systems. Although watering your lawn is important, be careful not to overwater your lawn and cause disease outbreaks. One way to do this is to make sure you don’t water as much if your area received rainfall. If you’re concerned about disease outbreaks or suspect that one might be present, read How to Detect and Treat Fungus in Newly Laid Sod.

Another helpful tip for making sure your zoysia is absorbing enough water is to simply monitor it. You can do this by checking the edges of each piece as well as the overall perimeter of your lawn. The edges of your lawn and the edges of each individual sod pieces are most susceptible to drying out. If you notice this, don’t turn your sprinkler system back on and water your lawn again—this can lead to overwatering or disease. Provide targeted hand-watering with a garden hose to the areas that appear dried out.

Pictured above from left to right: An irrigation system watering a newly installed Innovation Zoysia lawn and a piece of EMPIRE sod that’s drying out along the edges.

When to Mow Newly Sodded Zoysia

Mowing a newly installed zoysia lawn should take place somewhere around 13–15 days after installation has taken place. This is a rough estimate because it greatly depends on if your new sod has started to put down roots or not. You need to wait for your sod to put down roots because you don’t want your lawn mower pulling up any pieces.

A good way to check to see if your lawn is ready for mowing is by slightly pulling at the edges of different sod pieces throughout the yard. If the pieces of your zoysia sod stick to the ground, they’ve started putting down roots. If they don’t stick, you should probably wait a little longer before mowing and continue to check it every few days.

When you mow, be sure to set your mower to the highest setting so that you are only removing the tops of the leaf blades. If you start mowing and the pieces of sod start to come up, your mower is either set too low or your sod hasn’t put down sufficient roots.

Pictured above from left to right: A homeowner mowing a lawn and a piece of sod producing prolific white roots that are beginning to establish into the ground.

In Summary

To recap, use a fertilizer specifically made for new lawns such as Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box to quickly establish healthy roots. You can begin a regular Lawnifi fertilization schedule a month after installation with Lawnifi’s liquid fertilizer program or with Lawnifi Foundation.

Water twice a day for the first nine days, reduce watering to once per day on day 10, further reduce watering to once every other day on day 13 and then transition to around one inch per week as your lawn needs it on day 16. Monitor your lawn to ensure that it is not drying up, paying close attention to the edges as these are the most susceptible.

Lastly, mow your lawn when it is ready. During the growing season, wait 14 days or so and then mow at the highest setting on your mower. To refer to a generic establishment schedule for the first 30 days, visit Establishing a Newly Installed Lawn. Once the first 30 days of establishment are up, refer to our Zoysia Homeowner Maintenance Guide for seasonal tips on zoysia lawns.

Popular Zoysia Varieties

If you’re still researching how much maintenance and care goes into zoysia grass before completing an installation project, be sure to take a look at our blog on Popular Zoysia Varieties. This blog spends time discussing zoysia grasses like EMPIRE® ZoysiaInnovationTM ZoysiaMeyer ZoysiaZeon® Zoysia and others. If you find that you’re not 100 percent on board with zoysia grass and want to learn about other varieties available, our blog on How to Choose the Right Type of Sod might help you.

Pictured above from left to right: EMPIRE, Innovation, Meyer and Zeon Zoysia.

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