Unmowed Elegance: The Guide to Growing a Long Zoysia Lawn

Picture this: You're strolling through your garden on a tranquil summer evening, and you haven’t mowed all year. Why not? Well, the lush green expanse underfoot isn't the typical mown lawn—it's a verdant carpet of long Zoysiagrass, untouched by the mower's blade.

Unmowed Zoysia grass lawns are stunning and practical too. If you’re looking for landscaping solutions or just something unique, consider letting your Zoysia sod grow long in the style of Japanese gardens.

We recommend Zeon Zoysia as the best option for long, unmowed Zoysia lawns so keep that in mind as you read.

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia in a garden. Pic from Brandon Eubanks, Super-Sod.long-unmowed-zoysia2

 

Long Zoysia Solves Problems

Accessibility: Some areas are simply hard to access with a mower, particular slopes or isolated turf such as in parking islands, roundabouts, and green roofs. Other times hardscaping such as dry creek drainage areas simply require more effort to traverse to a lawn, even with a push mower.

Stop mowing it. Let your Zeon Zoysia grow long and enjoy the beautiful waves of grass. You don’t have to mow every inch of your Zeon lawn.

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia in a roundabout island. long-unmowed-zoysia4long-unmowed-zoysia5

Dappled Shade: If you have an area where you want a lawn but the shade is too dense to grow even the most shade tolerant of lawns, then consider switching to Zeon and letting the lawn in shady areas grow long. Zeon is our most shade tolerant warm season lawn and it becomes even more shade tolerant if you let it grow long. When unmowed, the long leaf blades can access more sunlight for photosynthesis making long Zeon adaptable enough to grow well in dappled shade when unmowed.

I laid leftover Zeon on this shady slope to try long Zoysia for myself. My husband likes it so much he plans to complete it. (Snapped 11-11-23, when lawn was going dormant.)long-unmowed-zoysia3


Installing a Long Zoysia Lawn

The process of planting an unmowed Zoysia lawn isn't different from that of conventional turf. Here's a step-by-step installation guide.

  1. Site Preparation: At least two weeks before you plan on laying sod, remove existing grass, weeds, and debris (stones, sticks) and correct any drainage issues according to these instructions.
  2. Order Sod: Order your Zeon Zoysia sod online, right here.
  3. Lay Your Sod: Start at one edge, laying each piece like brickwork, ensuring tight seams like in these sod-laying details.
  4. Roll Your Sod: As always, after your sod is laid, we recommend rolling it to remove air pockets and ensure good root-to-soil contact, plus it will also help smooth bumpy ground.
  5. Watering: Immediately after laying, keep your sod moist until roots form and you cannot pull back the roll. Follow these instructions for brand new sod
  6. Mowing: Typically our mantra is “mow as soon as there is something to mow.” Obviously you can skip this step!

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia in a playground, contrasting harmoniously with mowed Zoysia. long-unmowed-zoysia7


Caring for a Long Zoysia Lawn

Your commitment to an unmowed Zoysia lawn doesn't end with the initial planting. Now there's a subtle art involved—a dance between nurturing the grass and letting it thrive in its natural form. But mostly, you can just ignore it. Here are our lawn care tips for unmowed Zoysia of all types.

Mowing: Mowing should only occur every 1 to 5 years, depending on your aesthetic standards. Keep in mind that you’ll be scalping it, so do so in late winter, just before new growth begins again. A rotary mower works just fine for this, you don’t need a reel mower.

If you have a high tolerance to the brown leaves hanging around while fresh Zoysia grows through, you can wait longer to mow it. I personally didn’t mow mine for 5 years.

Edging: Edge as you normally would; no special pointers apply here.

Weed Control: An unmowed Zoysia lawn will require weed control too. Since you won’t be able to control weeds by mowing them, you will need to do some hand weeding. As always, we recommend pre-emergent weed control products as the best method of preventing weeds. Post-emergents will also work, if labeled safe for Zoysia.

Long Zoysia lawns in full sun will be denser and require less weed control. However, in dappled shade they will be thinner so you will need to be a little more diligent in weed control for shady situations.

Fertilization: Unmowed Zoysia requires less fertilization to maintain its vibrant hue. We recommend low nitrogen just once a year, using our 5-10-30 fertilizer. A product such as Ironite for greening (using a low nitrogen formula), is also suitable.

If you want to topdress with Soil³ compost to build the soil and add nutrition, do so after you’ve done your annual scalping (see under mowing above).

Fungicide: Just like for regular mowed Zoysia, we recommend you apply fungicide twice a year, in October and April.

Watering: We recommend watering Zeon Zoysia with at least 1” per week, however, since you’re not mowing it, it may require less watering. It depends on your site conditions so observe how your lawn performs. In full sun it may require 1” per week, but in dappled shade with lower evaporation and evapotranspiration rates, it may not need as much.

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia in a garden setting.long-unmowed-zoysia6long-unmowed-zoysia9


Zeon is the Best Choice for Long Zoysia

We recommend unmowed Zeon because it’s stunning when grown long, creating bright green, undulating drifts. Its ultimate height is a little shorter than others, so it forms beautiful waves and tufts, rather than completely laying down flat due to the weight. Plus, Zeon’s fine-textured blades are more visually pleasing than the coarse texture of other Zoysias, providing an interesting textural contrast when paired with other garden plants.

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia will grow 5-6” and most of it will not be standing straight up, rather it will be forming beautiful waves and mounds of various heights.

We don’t recommend Zenith Zoysia because it is coarser, grows longer, and produces unsightly seed heads twice a year if left unmowed. Zeon produces less seed heads and when they do form, it’s typically in late winter, coinciding with the right time to scalp your long Zoysia for the year.

Before Zeon superseded Emerald in the marketplace, old-school Emerald was the preferred choice for unmowed situations or in Japanese-style gardens. Due to the fine texture, Emerald also performs well when grown long, but Zeon is now the better choice due to its superior performance, adaptability, and disease resistance.

Unmowed Zeon Zoysia in a bike park.long-unmowed-zoysia8

Unmowed Zoysia is more than a patch of long grass, it’s a technique offering design and aesthetic possibilities, plus solutions for challenging areas. We hope this jump-started your imagination as you think about where you can let long Zoysia find a place as a low maintenance option for your landscape.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them here!

Photos from Lawn Solutions Australia, unless otherwise noted.