Aug 6, '02 (Last updated February '11) - I have a lush smooth carpet of EMPIRE Zoysia lawn around my home - it's a fantastic lawn and I'm pleased with it.  I'm originally from South Africa, where many homes have picturesque gardens.  Our family moved to Florida in 1994.  Being accustomed to lush lawns that really enhance ones home, I was most surprised that St. Augustine was the lawn of choice for most Tampa homes.  I thought, 'surely there must be a better alternative to St.

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Team Smiley & Marlene

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Smiley & Marlene Papenfus

Augustine.'  One morning, on my daily walk past the entrance of Bloomingdale Golfers Club on Natures Way, the greens-keeper happened to be trimming some trees there.  Wanting to learn from the expertise of this seasoned lawn expert, I asked, "What would your top recommendation would be for a beautiful and reliable lawn?"  "EMPIRE Zoysia!!!" was his response - a lawn I had never heard of before.  A short while later, I noticed a beautiful carpet of lush lawn at a Bloomingdale home - when the owner told me it was EMPIRE Zoysia I immediately understood why the greenskeeper had highly recommended it.  In my subsequent research I found EMPIRE Zoysia to be the perfect lawn for the warmer Southern USA regions.  You may ask, "If it's so good, why isn't everyone using it?"  Either (i) they don't know about it or (ii) because it's slightly more expensive - but in the long run you'll definitely save money.  Price aside, EMPIRE Zoysia has several advantages over St. Augustine - see below.  Your local supplier of EMPIRE Zoysia can be located at  If you're local in Tampa, you're welcome to come see and feel this superior lawn at 15322 Vireoglen Lane, Lithia, FL, 33547 - or call Smiley Papenfus on 813.600.3292.

Advantages of EMPIRE Zoysia… 1. Low maintenance lawn - nicknamed the "EZ" lawn.  It grows much slower than St. Augustine, only needing to be cut every 7-14 days.  Maintain between 1-2" (1" is optimal).  Heights above 2" will reduce quality.  Cut with a sharp blade standard rotary mower.  Never cut more than of the total length of the grass blade.  EMPIRE Zoysia prefers a mower that catches the clippings.  2. Due to its deep massive root system EMPIRE Zoysia can survive on one third of the water St. Augustine needs, which is a major plus - because Hillsborough County has frequently restricted watering to twice a week.  3. EMPIRE Zoysia has rapid injury recovery after drought.  My neighbor didn't water his EMPIRE Zoysia lawn for 3 months during a drought.  It looked totally dead!!  When the rains finally came it completely recovered - I was amazed.  This slow growing lawn needs 12 months for the roots to fully establish in order for it to reach its full drought potential.  4. EMPIRE Zoysia was discovered in hot humid Brazil and does well in similar warmer climates5. EMPIRE Zoysia is weed resistant due to it's tight mat and strong, thick, deep root structure that has a reputation to stand up to invading grasses and weeds.  I had some Bermuda grass try to invade my garden - it had no chance against EMPIRE Zoysia.  However, St. Augustine & EMPIRE Zoysia lawns will run into each other.  St. Augustine runners are easy to pull up, but EMPIRE Zoysia is very difficult to pull up.  The best solution is a rubber underground barrier between your lawns or to run your edge trimmer between your lawns every week.  6. EMPIRE Zoysia is ideal for kids to romp and play ball on.  It's planted in parks for its excellent wear tolerance, eye catching dark green color and soft-to-the-touch feel.  7. EMPIRE Zoysia looks like a beautiful lush soft inviting green carpet that will greatly enhance the beauty of one's home8. On the downside, EMPIRE Zoysia is susceptible to billbugs & grub worms which are easy to detect and treat with Eliminator or Sevin from Wal-Mart.  Grub worms love the roots of EMPIRE Zoysia.  You'll suddenly see your lawn thinning out in a patch.  Immediately spread Eliminator’s granules & water them in.  You'll probably need to do it a second time in 7 days.  Then watch EMPIRE Zoysia miraculously recover - it always does.

Disadvantages of St. Augustine… 1. High maintenance - grows up to 7" by the seventh day and only looks good for a day or two after it's been cut as it can't be mowed lower than 3".  2. Unless it is regularly well watered St. Augustine develops dead patches and is quickly overrun by weeds and other grasses like Bermuda & Crabgrass - it struggles in our Florida heat under watering restrictions.  3. St. Augustine recovers poorly, if at all after drought.  4. St. Augustine does not do as well in the heat, unless well watered everyday5. On my previous walks in S. Valrico, I noticed 8 out of 10 St. Augustine lawns were overrun by Bermuda, Bahai, ghastly Crabgrass, and a multitude of weeds.  I saw home owners with one year old lawns that were already needing to replant because of a Bermuda takeover - then have to do it a second time because of a Crabgrass takeover.  6. I had to stop the kids playing ball on my old St. Augustine lawn, because it quickly wore thin and bared under traffic.  Come to think of it, you seldom see kids playing on St. Augustine lawn - maybe because of it's rough & uncomfortable feel.  7. St. Augustine is a coarse lawn with a scraggy look8. St. Augustine is susceptible to chinch bugs, webworms & mole crickets, which are often to far gone to treat - I can't begin to count the number of St. Augustine lawns I've seen replaced.

I have a contract with Massey Services for Lawn & Pest control who keeps my EMPIRE Zoysia lawn weed free & looking great.  I also just pull the odd weed I see before mowing with my standard rotary mower and grass-box (EMPIRE Zoysia looks better if the clippings are bagged).  As you're only cutting ½ to 1" off a week, the grass-box is really no bother at all.  Because weeds grow so much faster than slow growing EMPIRE Zoysia, they stand out like a sore thumb and are easy to spot & pull.  There's an important rule that says if you have a choice between weeding and mowing, always mow.  Regular short mowing does discourage weed growth and promptly pulling a weed prevents spreading - a stitch in time saves nine.  eSuper Garden Lawn Maintenance & Landscaping Design are experienced in cutting EMPIRE Zoysia lawns - speak to Christina or Christian - 813.401.1032

EMPIRE Zoysia also has fairly good shade tolerance - it does best with around 4 hours sun a day; however, it does perform well in both sandy and clay soils.  EMPIRE Zoysia has good cold tolerance (it does however brown in patches after a frost); it also has excellent salt tolerance, thriving near coastal conditions.

I read a brochure from on EMPIRE Zoysia, with the opinions of 5 lawn experts.  Here is the testimony of one of them: "At King Ranch, we call EMPIRE Zoysia the 'EZ' lawn, because it's so easy to grow and maintainWe think the public are ready for a new and improved turfgrass, so we're excited about growing and marketing EMPIRE Zoysia." - Paul Grose, General Manager, King Ranch, FL.

Folks planting St. Augustine today, will almost certainly have a Chinch Bug or a weed infestation war to wage.  They’ll also have either a Bermuda or Crabgrass takeover.  New home owners and second time lawn planters should seriously look into planting EMPIRE Zoysia as an appealing low maintenance alternative.

In summary, I love my EMPIRE Zoysia lawn & would plant it again in a heartbeat.  Like all good lawns it does require knowledge & skillful care.  With Massey Services your lawn will stand out in your neighborhood.  Two other comments - EMPIRE Zoysia will invade your flowerbeds if you don’t have a proper border & a heavy dog pee will temporarily brown out a 6” round patch.

Planting A New EMPIRE Zoysia LawnEMPIRE Zoysia can be planted with plugs and will take one season to fully cover.  Once partially established have Massey Services come and kill the weeds for you - they know the right product to use that kills the weeds without hurting your EMPIRE Zoysia lawn.  Of course the best way to plant EMPIRE Zoysia is with sod.  Soil preparation would best be accomplished by killing off existing lawn with 'Quick Pro', then slicing it in 15” strips with an edge trimmer - followed by lifting & rolling up.  New sod does best when laid on leveled bare soil.  Naturally a new lawn will need to be watered regularly - everyday the first 30 days - then backing off to every 2nd and 3rd day - which encourages the roots to grow deep in search of water - but without some regular water for the entire first year, the lawn won’t look it’s best.

Cost CalculationsEMPIRE Zoysia costs a bit more than other sod, partially because it's slow growing, giving suppliers a lower yield and turnover time - so they have to up their price to stay in business.  Even though it costs more, I would not plant anything else, because I like a high quality / low maintenance lawn - you get what you pay for.  'Agro-Turf' in Tampa only charged me 2c more per Sq/Ft, which translated to ±$120 more for our 6,000 Sq/Ft lawn.  Is this extra $120 a good investment?  There is an old saying that reads, "Cheap buying ends up being expensive buying", because you have to re-buy the thing you should have bought in the first place - and with lawn the labor of removing & re-planting is far more than the lawn itself.

ABC’s of is an interesting web-site that explains how to fertilize correctly.  What do those 3 numbers on every fertilizer bag mean?  NPK base - N=nitrogen, P=phosphorus, and K=potassiumN - Nitrogen promotes foliage and overall growth, also a healthy dark green lawnP - Phosphorus promotes good deep root developmentK - Potassium promotes diseases resistance plus the flowering and fruit development in plants.  Recommendation for EMPIRE Zoysia (in fact for all warm season lawns)…  Starter = 18:24:6 - high phosphorous and nitrogen levels are ideal for new lawns to drive the roots down and green it up.  Lawn Food = 27:4:6 - high slow release nitrogen gives a sustained Spring boost to produce a dark green lush lawn.  Re-apply at least one more time during the Summer.  Winterizer = 5:5:25 - a high potassium content is an excellent disease fighter.  I keep it simple - I just use an all purpose 10:10:10 lawn, shrub & tree fertilizer by Rite Green from Wal-Mart at $5.00 a bag for all seasons.  These other 'specialized' fertilizers cost up to $30.00 a bag.  With a push rotary fertilizer spreader, I can evenly distribute a 40 lb bag of fertilizer in 5 minutes.  I apply this at least 4 times a year to produce a thick lush deep green healthy lawn.

Watering  In the Summer months you want to water around 3 am and in the Winter months around 9 am.  Water well less frequently - just enough days a week to prevent wilting.  Dollar weeds are a sign of over-watering.

Some Local Tampa Suppliers of EMPIRE Zoysia… 1. 'Agro-Turf', Tampa, FL - 813.633.3094  2. DCF Landscape - 813.684.9328  3. Flint Sod & irrigation - 813.654.5296 -  4. RB Sod - 813.657.8189 -  5. EMPIRE Zoysia Plugs from Seedland   6. 'SMR Turf & Trees', Bradenton, FL - 941.708.0772 ~ Go to for your local Southern USA supplier.

EMPIRE Zoysia links… 1. Sod Solutions  2. Empire Turf Australia  3.  4. Modern Turf  5. Bill’s Turf Supplies  6. Bethel Farms  7. Hi Quality Turf.

15 Other Varieties of Zoysia lawns… 1. Zenith Zoysia   2. Companion Zoysia   3. Empress Zoysia   4. El Toro Zoysia   5. Emerald Zoysia   6. Meyer Zoysia - Z-52 or Amazoy   7. Belaire Zoysia   8. Cashmere Zoysia   9. Cavalier Zoysia   10. Crowne Zoysia   11. De Anza Zoysia   12. Diamond Zoysia   13. Palisades Zoysia   14. Victoria Zoysia  15. UltimateFlora Zoysia.


Testimonials… 1. Mark Cole, Director of Golf Course Maintenance, Ginn Clubs & Resorts - "This is a great lawn. It's shade tolerant, heat resistant and drought resistant.  We can bring it up to an inch and a half and cut it with a regular rotary mower.  We have had great response to EMPIRE from our owners.  They like the look and feel if it because it is similar to the types of lawns up north, where many of our homeowners are from."

2. Kevin Clingerman, Landscape Manager, Ginn Golf - "I love this lawn.  When we started looking for an alternative to St. Augustine grass, the first thing that attracted me to EMPIRE was esthetics.  We are trying to create the aura of backyard Americana and I fell in love with the appearance of EMPIRE before we even began to evaluate its performance."

3. Ray Edwards, Mt Dora, FL - "My wife and I are very satisfied with our Empire Zoysia lawn that has been down for 5 years now.  We find it to require very little fertilizer, is growing well under the trees, as well as in the full sun.  We love the fact that the lawn does not have to be mowed every week in the summer and still has the look of a well kept lawn.  The grass does not grow straight up as fast as other types of grass does, but seems to spread out, rather than up!  We would recommend Empire Zoysia to anyone."

4. Barry McKently, Director Landscape, Universal Studios Escape, FL - “We put EMPIRE Zoysia in two of our theme parks in Orlando, and it’s doing great.  The lawn is visually appealing and it holds up well to the traffic.  We’re very pleased.”

5. Gary Alan, The Designer's Landscape - “EMPIRE Zoysia is striking to look at and feel. We've featured it in three of our shows."





‘EZ’ lawn finely enhancing another home

Harvesting EMPIRE Zoysia

Newly harvested ‘EZ’ sod up close


My 99% pure EMPIRE Zoysia front lawn - in Summer it ONLY GROWS 1˝ PER WEEK

Great ‘curb appeal’ begins with a beautiful lawn - like EMPIRE Zoysia



EZ’s dominant root structure is a major factor to its excellent drought tolerance

‘EZ’ - Southern USA’s Superior Lawn

St. Augustine is notorious for being overrun by Bermuda, Crabgrass & Weeds - also for being destroyed by Chinch Bugs

EMPIRE Zoysia - a soft lush lawn your family will enjoy together

Look Mom, no shoes & loving it

EMPIRE Zoysia Lawn