Monday, November 02, 2015

Growing Zoysia from Seed in Melbourne

Australians generally are conditioned to having a green turf area in the winter months.  In many other parts of the world you may have a green lawn in the warmer months, but a dry and brown barren area in winter, or possibly the opposite with a green area in the cool winter and dry and brown in warmer summer weather.

It is often possible in most parts of Australia with careful choice of turf species as well as a suitable variety, to have green turf year round.  But there are compromises as often either winter or summer is a bit of a stress time.

There are exceptions with turf adapted to altitude in the tropics often able to handle the winter and summer satisfactorily in Australia, or at least in much of the country, for example - kikuyu grass used as a turf, as well as some varieties of couch eg wintergreen, with both coping with both cool and hot weather.

While zoysia is a great turf from spring through autumn, it may not be ideal where there are cold winters.  It usually turns a lovely straw colour.  It is possible to oversow a winter active grass such as rye or fescue to meet your needs if a green turf is absolutely needed. but leaving it natural is also okay.  It is a relatively short period of several months, and often the weather is not ideal for being outside anyway.

In large cities there are often areas with varying conditions - and cities do tend to be a little warmer than nearby areas outside of the urban conditions, so picking areas where zoysia may remain green or discolour is not always easy.

In late 2014 a modest area was sown to Compadre zoysia in suburban Melbourne.

It did wonderfully well, and by late summer it was thriving.  Come went a golden straw colour, and is now - springtime in 2015 - rapidly regreening and is expected to once again thrive in the warmer months providing a low maintenance but very functional turf area with low mowing requirements.
Compadre Zoysia turf in Melbourne - Sown late 2014 - photo from 2 March 2015

Sown late 2014, photo in mid October 2015 about 1 year from sowing after 1st winter 

This is exactly what the zoysia areas in China and Korea where the grass is naturalised, do each year -   green up in the warm months yet go dormant in winter.  It works very well.  Summer in both areas is very hot and humid, while winters are cold to very cold.

So remember that zoysia - think Compadre as more suitable, but Zenith is okay too - will be able to grow in Melbourne, but may not be green in winter.  Also remember that winter 2014 was cold, and not all winters are that cold.

[ photo credit - G Speers, Melbourne]

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