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Zoysia Grass Lawn: Reel Mower vs Rotary Mower

In Lawn Care by Palmers Turf


Keeping your lawn full and green is not a task to be entrusted to crab grass. Zoysia, a resilient grass popular in the southern United States, puts a home’s best foot forward. But how should it be maintained? Should it be cut with a reel or rotary mower? After all, mowing a lawn is half art, half science. You provide the art; read on to get the science.

Where Did Zoysia Grass Come From?

Zoysia grass is a family of warm-season turf grasses native to the Orient. The three basic species are the Matrella, Japonica and Tenuifolia species. All other forms of zoysia grass, like the hardy Emerald and the plush Cashmere, have been synthesized from these godfathers. Shared family traits include:

• Drought resistance
• Slow, steady growth
• Salt tolerance
• Uniform color

How Should I Maintain My Zoysia Lawn?

In return for zoysia’s gorgeous green turf, you have to sate it with about an inch of water per week. It should be mowed when it reaches approximately three inches in height, and trimmed to 1-2 inches. Keep it shorter in the spring and longer in the fall. If you procrastinate until the grass grows too high, you may slice into the stems rather than the leaf.

So long as you mow on schedule, you can toss the clippings back onto the lawn as a natural nitrogen fertilizer. If thatch builds up, either top-dress the turf with ¼-inch of topsoil or run over the lawn with a dethatcher. Do not mow when the grass is wet, since damp thatch is a breeding ground for fungus and disease, which cause brown spots.

Should I Use a Rotary or Reel Mower?

A rotary lawn mower is the de facto unit in suburbia. Usually powered by 2-cycle and 4-cycle gasoline engines, rotary mowers have helicopter-like blades that chop off the tops of grass through brute force.

A reel mower, in contrast, cuts grass like a pair of scissors. When pushed along by homo sapiens, a reel mower slices through the leaf and leaves a clean cut.

Although zoysia grass can be trimmed with either type of mower, reel mowers are recommended. Their clean cuts prevent the tops of the grass from turning brown or yellow. When maintained with a sharp reel blade, Zoysia grass looks like a majestic, green carpet. The reel mower also prevents clipping clumps and stops scalping.

Can I Get By with a Rotary Mower?

Sometimes a zoysia lawn will spiral out of hand – or foot. You might need the power of a rotary mower. No matter how tall the grass grows, you should never cut more than one-third its height at a time. Keep the rotary blades sharp. Some gardeners recommend a two-blade system, where blades are swapped and sharpened every 6-8 cuttings. Rotary mowers can regularly maintain a zoysia grass lawn, but choose softer grass species like El Toro or Cashmere.

Your lawn is the smile of your home – and no smile should be tainted with brown spots. Cut your zoysia grass lawn with a reel mower to create your welcome mat of rich green grass.