Empire Zoysia Maintenance


EMPIRE Turf is a Brazilian Zoysia japonica developed by turfgrass breeders Minoru Ito and Roberto Gurgel that offers specifiers, landscapers, golf course designers, sportsturf managers and homeowners exceptional performance with low maintenance across a wide spectrum of applications. EMPIRE is a blue-green turfgrass that has a wider blade than most other zoysias (slightly broader than Meyer Zoysia) and grows in a wide variety of soil and climate conditions. EMPIRE performs well in sandy and clay type soils throughout the southern U.S. and has tough runners, rhizomes, and deep roots that provide excellent sod strength, wearability, and improved drought tolerance. EMPIRE performs well in hot, arid, sandy areas of the southwest U.S., and has proven itself drought tolerant in many challenging applications. Shade tolerance research is ongoing, as EMPIRE has performed well in field and homeowner sites, and exhibits shade tolerance typical of most Zoysias. EMPIRE is the first Zoysia to demonstrate improved tolerance to brown patch as compared to Meyer Zoysia in side-by-side plantings. Additionally, EMPIRE is highly tolerant of most herbicides making it easier to control weeds during production and for the end user.

Click To Download the Homeowner’s Manual

Production and Quality Control

Genetic purity and preservation of the EMPIRE Turf variety is of primary importance. Only licensed turfgrass producers are authorized to grow EMPIRE for sale. All licensed EMPIRE production is monitored through ongoing quality control and quality assurance programs. Additionally, producers can choose to certify their EMPIRE through local state crop certification agencies that provide rigid standards and regulations for production, harvesting, and handling, that when adhered to, ensure a genetically pure, high quality, “certified” product.

Installation and Establishment

Installation and the care taken during the initial days that follow are the most critical factors in determining the long-term quality and performance of EMPIRE Turf. Harvesting and transplantation are extremely stressful to any turfgrass and precautionary measures should be taken to help reduce further cultural and environmental stresses. EMPIRE is a tough, hardy turfgrass that once established, produces a beautiful lifetime lawn, landscape, sportsturf or golf course. Proper care, including pre-installation soil preparation and limiting time on the pallet to less than 24 hours, yields positive results. Improper care, however, can cause death of the turfgrass or damage that results in lengthy recovery and additional expense. See our Turfgrass Installation page for more information on proper installation of turfgrass.

Irrigating Newly Installed EMPIRE: Proper watering upon installtion is essential to successful establishment

  • Prior to installation, ensure irrigation systems are working properly and covering all areas to be planted
  • Water thoroughly upon installation ensuring that both the EMPIRE is wet and the soil is moist to a depth of 3”, which is approximately 1” of water per day
  • In hot weather, water within a few hours of installation to mitigate severe damage or loss due to heat / dehydration stress
  • Shaded areas and heavy soils require less water than full-sun areas and sandy soils
  • When proper rooting is evident, alter irrigation program accordingly

Mowing: New installations are often uneven and care should be taken not to scalp high spots:

  • Mow within 10 days of installation and bag clippings for the first few mowings
  • After the first few mowings see post establishment instructions for proper mowing practices.

Fertility: Use a transplant-friendly regimen that will help reduce shock and minimize disease

  • Use a starter fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous and potassium
  • For best results always perform a soil test and fertilize accordingly

Post Establishment

Mowing: Mowing is a critical and often under appreciated cultural practice:

  • Maintain EMPIRE at 1-2″
  • Heights above 2″ will reduce quality
  • Can be maintained at heights of 1/2″ if regularly mowed with a reel mower
  • Rotary mowers are preferred for heights 1″ or higher
  • Reel mowers are preferred for heights below 1″
  • Mow every 7-10 days during the active growing season
  • Mow every 10-14 days, or as needed, during cooler weather
  • Never cut more than 1/3 of the total length of the blade at any one mowing
  • If a scheduled mowing is missed and clippings clump on top of the EMPIRE, bag or vacuum clippings to reduce shade-out
  • Vertical mowing (verticutting) may be performed to renovate EMPIRE

Insecticides: Avoid stress from insects by performing insecticidal applications as needed:

  • For any insecticide application, always read and follow label directions carefully
  • Early identification and treatment of insect stress minimizes inputs and injury
  • Make routine observations of the landscape, and be aware of seasonal pests like billbugs, armyworms and webworms
  • Grubs can reduce quality if critical populations are reached
  • Control armyworms and webworms with Sevin, Orthene, Diazinon or Permethrin-based products
  • Control billbugs with Sevin (adults), Talstar (adults), DeltaGuard (adults), Merit (larval/grub form), Mach2 (larval/grub form)
  • Consult with local experts for insecticide recommendations if you are unsure of label instructions

Herbicides: Proper mowing, irrigation and fertilization of EMPIRE will reduce weed problems. If a weed problem persists:

  • For any herbicide application, always read and follow label directions carefully
  • Improper use of herbicides can severely damage or kill EMPIRE
  • Make routine observations of the landscape being aware of seasonal weeds
  • Identify the type of weed causing the problem before using any chemical controls
  • EMPIRE is tolerant of most commonly used herbicides
  • Consult with local experts for herbicide recommendations if you are unsure of label instructions

Fungicides: EMPIRE has shown resistance to most fungal problems and controls should be used only as needed:

  • For any fungicide application, always read and follow label directions carefully
  • Early identification and treatment of disease stress minimizes inputs and injury
  • Make routine observations of the landscape being aware of unusual symptoms
  • Consider a broad-spectrum fungicide application if predictable seasonal problems are noted
  • Ask your EMPIRE grower to apply fungicide 1-2 weeks prior to harvest during times of high, disease-inducing stress
  • Consult with local experts for fungicide recommendations if you are unsure of label instructions

Irrigation: Established EMPIRE exhibits drought tolerance due to improved plant genetics and growth characteristics:

  • Watering requirements are greatly dependent on soil type, season, geography and other factors
  • Ensure irrigation systems are working properly and covering all areas covered by EMPIRE
  • Make routine observations of the landscape and learn the signs (i.e., wilting) that indicate when irrigation is required
  • Shaded areas and heavy soils require less water than full-sun areas and sandy soils
  • Encourage deep root growth by watering until the soil is moist to a depth of 3”, shallow watering encourages shallow roots
  • Infrequent deep watering maximizes drought resistance and tolerance
  • Visit our Watering Tips for more information on proper irrigation

Fertility: Proper fertility practices will encourage healthy, disease and insect free EMPIRE:

  • Perform soil tests to understand your soil type(s) and condition and best determine your specific fertility needs
  • Generally EMPIRE requires 3 fertilizer applications/year: spring, summer and fall
  • Make routine observations and fertilize according to what the landscape indicates
  • Understand what and how much fertilizer you are applying
  • Avoid disease and insect inducing growth flushes by reducing Nitrogen rates
  • Improve color and limit growth surges by utilizing iron sources
  • Higher Nitrogen rates should only be applied in the spring, for injury recovery, or for planned “peaking” of EMPIRE
  • Apply balanced fertilizers with lower rates of Nitrogen in the summer and fall


Read detailed description of BMPs

To ensure optimum quality and performance of EMPIRE, users must accomplish necessary care and maintenance. This care and maintenance has been formalized above in the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for EMPIRE Turf. These BMPs are written as a guide and should be modified as local climate, soil, and environmental conditions dictate. It is important to note that no “magic fertilizer” or “super-chemical” will solve all problems or make any turfgrass perfect. Through consistent application of the BMPs and on-going evaluation, education, and modification of these practices, however, users will greatly enhance the quality and performance of EMPIRE Turf.

Fall EMPIRE Turf Care

Get Your EMPIRE Turf Ready for Fall!

Football is back…fall is in the air…both signals that its time to winterize your EMPIRE Turf lawn so that it will come out of dormancy beautiful and healthy next spring.

Probably the single most important thing you do in the fall is to fertilize. Climates and soils are going to be different depending on where you are located so its always good to check with a local expert…but generically, we recommend a fertilizer with a 1-0-2 ratio…one part nitrogen, 0 parts phosphorus and 2 parts potassium.

Unlike St. Augustine grasses, Chinch bugs leave empire along. However, hunting billbugs wont. They aren’t as prevalent as chinch bugs, but can do serious damage to your lawn if they get in. Billbugs are small black insects with a snout like feature. As an EMPIRE Turf owner, we recommend putting down billbug control in the fall and in the spring whether you have had issues with hunting billbugs in the past or not. Make sure the insecticide you use has imidicloprid as the active ingredient.

The next two steps are kind of up to you.

The first is putting down a fungicide. Large patch is one of the most common fungus problems that EMPIRE deals with. Large patch appears as somewhat circular patterns of brown or dead grass.
If you have had issues with large patch or another fungus, you may want to put down a preventative fungicide to keep it from returning. If you have not had a fungus problem, you can pass on this step.

Summer weeds will start dying off with cooler temperatures and winter weeds will start springing up. If winter weeds are usually not an issue for you, forgo any herbicide in the fall. However, if they are a yearly nuisance, treat with a pre-emergent herbicide now to stop them from appearing this fall and winter.

Remember with all lawn products be it fertilizer, insecticide or herbicide…read the label and follow the proper instructions.

Two last things to deal with and then you are Winterized!

Those things are Mowing and watering. Mowing in the cooler months is slightly different. Leave the EMPIRE a little bit higher than normal to encourage deeper root growth for the winter. Basically adjust your mower settings to go up one notch.

As for watering, as temperatures drop, grasses won’t need as much irrigation….so adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Too much watering can lead to fungus and disease outbreaks.

Follow these steps and get your grass set for the colder months and you will have a healthy lawn when grass comes out of its hibernation next spring.

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