When we moved into our home the lawn was receiving plenty of sun and was lush and green. Fast forward twelve years, now the trees in our back lawn and adjacent woodland garden have grown so much that a large area of the yard is now shaded. As a result, the original Bermuda grass has died off and given way to a variety of other grasses and weeds…according to my “grass & weed” identifier app!
After doing research and consulting with a professional, we’ve chosen to cut sod plugs from Zeon Zoysia Sod to fill in the bare areas of the yard. We’re told, by those in the business, that this variety rates better than other shade tolerant Zoysia grasses. Keep in mind, we’re not going for a golf course look! We want a healthy, green, back yard that is wildlife friendly, attractive, and can be as free of chemicals as possible.
The Woodland Garden Thrives In Shade But Our Lawn Does Not
After moving into our home in 2010, our first big outdoor project was to designate the triangular space at the back corner of the property to serve the neighborhood wildlife…the animal kind! We’ve been successful in that effort by keeping the area as natural as possible. It’s our “Woodland Garden.” We’ve added shade tolerant perennials, flowering shrubs, ferns, and small trees, and unfortunately lost one large Oak tree. We get regular visits from squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, an occasional fox, and a large variety of birds.
Our Sparse Bermuda Grass Lawn
Between the woodland garden and the house is our original Bermuda lawn that, as mentioned, is currently a variety of volunteer grasses and lots of weeds! The goal this summer and fall is to get it on the path to being all green. Our starting place is to keep the “greenest” areas in place, then focus on improving the bare areas. Eventually, we want to eliminate all the weeds and have a lawn full of predominantly green grass growing. When looking closely at what is actually left in our yard, Bermuda grass is still a majority but has significantly reduced in recent years. Other grasses include Ryegrass, Annual Bluegrass, Hairy Crabgrass, and Crowfoot Grass…as well as a variety of weeds!!
Preparing Bare Areas of the Yard For Zoysia Sod Plugs
After researching characteristics of different grass types that grow well in part sun and part shade, and in a hot, dry summer environment, we selected Zeon Zoysia grass. It’s a dense, low-growing grass to pair with the Bermuda grass that is currently in our back yard. The specific variety is Zeon Zoysia and tests showed it performs well in our hot, dry, southern US climate. Reviews also say it’s drought resistant and relatively low maintenance, which sounds great to me. The only slightly negative points were that it may take several months to mature and fill in and it can develop some thatch buildup. Our lawn area is relatively small to manage so I don’t see an issue there.
We started the “plugging”” process in the largest areas of bare soil and weeds, (in other words, an area where there was no grass worth saving). I removed the weeds then loosened the soil several inches deep to encourage new grass root growth.
Our Process of Preparing and Planting the Sod Plugs
- Bought Zeon Zoysia Sod rectangles at our local plant nursery
- Laid sod pieces in single layer near planting area to maintain a proper moisture level
- Cut the pieces of sod into approximately 4″ X 4″ squares with a wide blade garden knife. The serrated edge worked well.
- Soaked sod plugs in a container of water for approximately 15-20 minutes before planting to hydrate well before going into the ground.
- When planting the plug, remove just enough of the loosened soil so the grass plug roots are fully below ground level. Match the level of the sod grass blades with the level of the existing grass.
- Tuck in the plugs then water again lightly.
The Zoysia plugs are growing well. Over the next few months we are looking forward to the plugs continuing to fill the bare areas in our yard. Next spring we’ll tackle the weeds early so they don’t get out of hand. The yard is a work in process. I imagine we’ll be adding more sod plugs as the current Bermuda grass fades away in the shade of our beautiful trees.