Emerald Zoysia – Shade Tolerance

Q: I had Emerald zoysia installed in the spring, with great attention to soil prep beforehand. I’ve noticed that it seems weaker in shady spots than my neighbor’s Emerald zoysia. Any guesses why?

A: I think there are two possibilities. The first is that your grass might not be completely acclimated to your site just yet. If this is the case, your zoysia will go dormant in winter and will revive evenly in spring. Another guess is that you may not have the same “Emerald” zoysia as your neighbor. Turf expert Dr. Clint Waltz did a DNA test of 16 samples of “Emerald” zoysia, from homeowner lawns, commercial sites and turf farms. He found that there were three distinct races of grass sold as “Emerald”. They differed in the dates they greened-up each spring but they might just as easily have differed in their tolerance for shade. The best you can do is mow the zoysia in the shade a little higher and feed it a little less to help it tolerate the shade it’s in.

Turf expert Clint Waltz says “Emerald zoysiagrass doesn’t grow really strong in limited light conditions (i.e. shade). There are other zoysiagrass cultivar better adapted to shade and I would not recommend Emerald for lawns that receive less than 6 hours of filtered to intermittent shade in a day during the growing season. If the site is more shady, cultivars to consider would be El Toro (medium to coarse leaf texture), JaMur (medium to coarse leaf texture), Zeon (fine leaf texture), or Zorro (fine leaf texture). All four of these cultivars are grown and commercially available in Georgia.”

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