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Read the fine print in the Sunday supplement plant ads

They’re back! It’s that time of year when the advertisements in the Sunday newspaper supplements promise maintenance-free lawns that will survive anywhere.

This last weekend saw the return of an advertisement that promises a lawngrass that will grow where other grasses won’t, that will eliminate endless weeds and weeding, and cuts watering by as much as two-thirds.

According to the advertisement, this seemingly perfect grass is zoysia. And while zoysia is a warm-season grass that is one to consider for southern lawns, it’s important to learn more about what is being advertised before sending them your money.

The grass being sold in the Sunday supplement is Amazoy Zoysia. According to the University of Florida, ‘Meyer’ (Z-52, Amazoy®) has been in use since the 1950s. It is very slow to establish, and Hunting billbugs and nematodes pose serious problems with ‘Meyer’, limiting its use in Florida. ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass performed very poorly in trials conducted at Florida locations and its use in Florida is discouraged.

But while the ‘Meyer’ variety is not recommended, there are many new improved varieties of zoysia that are worth taking a look at. In recent years, dramatic improvements in zoysiagrass have been made by turfgrass breeders. These improvements include insect resistance, accelerated establishment, and overall performance.

Zoysiagrasses are adapted to a variety of soil types and have good tolerance to shade, salt, and traffic. They provide an extremely dense sod that resists weed invasion, but certain pests can be problematic.

To learn more about the several species and varieties of zoysiagrass used for residential and commercial landscapes, athletic fields, and golf courses read the University of Florida publication entitled “Zoysiagrass for Florida Lawns.” It’s available online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh011. For more information, contact your local Extension Office.

Many people are looking for a miracle grass because they are having problems with their existing turf. As always, we recommend you follow the landscaping principal of “right plant, right place”. Evaluate the site to determine why you are having problems. Remember, sometimes the best option is not to replace poor-performing turf with another type of turf, but to consider other options. There are some places in a landscape where turf is not the “right plant.”

Improper cultural practices such as low mowing, frequent irrigation and overfertilization can also cause a decline in turfgrass. Know your type of grass and follow recommended cultural practices. Zoysiagrass maintenance is different from that of other Florida lawn grasses. When improper maintenance practices are followed, undesirable results are likely to occur.

This winter has seen dramatic swings in temperatures and this will have an effect on our landscapes. But resist the urge to try miracle cures. It’s always wise to read all the fine print in advertisements. And keep in mind the old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Theresa Friday is the Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County. The use of trade names, if used in this article, is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee, warranty, or endorsement of the product name(s) and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion of others.

Permanent link to this article: http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2012/02/15/read-the-fine-print-in-the-sunday-supplement-plant-ads/