Comparing Cavalier Zoysia Grass vs. Emerald Zoysia Grass
In this article, John Romine of Triangle Turf in Bay City, Texas, compares Cavalier Zoysia and Emerald Zoysia grasses. Triangle Turf is the family-owned grass farm that supplies the high-quality grass we sell at Houston Grass South.
This is the interview with John Romine about Cavalier Zoysia and Emerald Zoysia grasses.
Cavalier Zoysia Grass
John Romine: Cavalier Zoysia is from the matrella family, which means it has a very fine leaf blade. It has a soft feel to the touch from the hand or foot. It has a very dense canopy, which disallows and helps to suppress weed growth through the turf with proper cultural practices, for example, mowing.
The fine-bladed Zoysias perform better in the shade compared to Palisades Zoysia, the coarse-bladed Zoysia. With a reel mower, this grass can handle low mowing heights all the way down to half inch, which is similar to golf course fairways. From the farm, we maintain ours at 5/8 of an inch.
With this grass also, it has a better wear tolerance than other fine bladed Zoysias, for example, Emerald Zoysia, due to its faster growth habit and to recover from wear of foot traffic, or anything. Cavalier, with the proper fertility and mowing practices can be maintained as a very beautiful lawn.
Interviewer: Okay, do you mind if I ask you some questions?
John: Absolutely, I would do much better with that.
Interviewer: Okay. You talked about mowing it down to half an inch with a reel mower. On the Aggie turf website, they talk about maintaining it between one and two inches with a rotary mower. Can you just let it grow a little bit more and then use a rotary mower on it?
John: Absolutely because from the farm it’s going to come, like I said, 5/8 of an inch but in a home lawn where most people don’t have a fairway mower, rotary mower, one to two inches would be ideal. Another benefit I didn’t mention about that, if they are going to maintain it that high, Cavalier Zoysia and Emerald Zoysia don’t have to mowed very often. I’m talking maybe once a week or every ten days.
Interviewer: Okay. You were talking before about not encroaching into shrubbery and that sort of thing?
John: Cavalier Zoysia will do that more than Emerald Zoysia. Emerald, since it grows so slowly, Emerald will not encroach into other landscaping. It won’t take as much whereas St. Augustine or Palisades Zoysia, where they have those runners and they’ll grow into the flower beds. These grasses will not do that. It’s very minimal.
Interviewer: Okay. As far as shade tolerance, is Cavalier Zoysia the most shade tolerant grass you can get?
John: Between the two Zoysias, Cavalier and Emerald are very similar to one another but they do have a better shade tolerance than the japonicas which is a Palisades, the coarse-bladed Zoysia.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: The fine-bladed Zoysias do better in the shade.
Interviewer: Okay. As far as watering, Michael Romine recommends, I think it’s an inch a week or maybe it’s two inches a week.
John: An inch a week during the growing season, which means the heat of the summer. The downfall … they both require the same amount of water … the downfall to the fine bladed Zoysias, their stress mechanism or way to save water, is what they call a leaf firing where the leaf rolls up and when you look across the lawn it looks, instead of that nice lush green color that St Augustine has still and Palisade doesn’t do it as bad, but it rolls up and it almost looks brown across the lawn because the leaves have actually rolled up and they’re trying to save moisture.
Interviewer: Okay, once it starts raining again or once you start irrigating, I would imagine it would turn green pretty quickly though?
John: Hours after it opens back up and looks great.
John: It will show hotspots in the lawn if your irrigation is not set up properly. Like I said its mechanism to drought tolerance is it rolls up that leaf and saves moisture.
Interviewer: Okay. We were talking a little bit this morning about gray leaf spot and brown patch, what about those?
John: So that would be a benefit with the St Augustine — Palmetto, Floratam, Raleigh — that we don’t have a gray leaf spot issue. But Rhizoctonia, that fungus is still able to show its face in this grass. We saw it last fall.
Interviewer: Okay. As far as fertilization, do you recommend three or four … I realize fertilization is kind of dependent on how short you cut the grass but for one to two inches, if you just cut it at one to two inches?
John: As far as the Zoysias, in my opinion, for what a home lawn to be maintained properly, three fertilizations a year is fine. A nitrogen fertilization early in the Spring and then a base in the Summer like a Triple 13 and then a winterizer, which they have different fertilizers for the Winter time. Across the board for Zoysias, St. Augustine, Bermuda grasses, in my opinion, they all require the same amount. One is not less or more than the other.
Interviewer: Okay, but if you cut it shorter, I understand that you have to fertilize it more, is that right?
John: If you’re going to mow it shorter but with a rotary mower, a homeowner does not need to go probably less than an inch with a rotary mower. If not, you’re going to start ripping the grass actually up and you’re going to start leaving holes and this is going to allow weeds to come through.
Interviewer: Right, okay.
John: Benefits of the higher maintenance and using a real mower forms a super tight canopy across the top of it and it looks like a golf course fairway and the canopy is so tight, it doesn’t allow sunlight to penetrate through where the weeds can come through.
Interviewer: Right, it does sound nice. It does sound nice. Okay. Well I don’t have anymore questions for Cavalier. Do you want to talk about Emerald Zoysia for a little bit?
John: I’ll do my best, absolutely.
Interviewer: Okay, thanks a lot.
Emerald Zoysia Grass
John: Emerald Zoysia is also a fine blade from the matrella family. It has a dark green cut color throughout the year, darker than Cavalier Zoysia with a proper fertility program. It has a better shade tolerance from the Japonica example, Palisades. This grass is easier to maintain from encroaching in other areas of your landscape do to its growth habit. It can handle low mowing heights with a proper mower, a reel mower. As far as cultural practices it’s very similar to Cavalier Zoysia. That’s really it on that. These grasses are so alike that I really don’t have much more to say.
John: Well let me walk through … The difference between Cavalier Zoysia and Emerald Zoysia, texture, the way it feels. Cavalier’s very soft to the touch. Emerald Zoysia has kind of spiky feel to it when you walk across it barefooted.
Emerald Zoysia and Cavalier Zoysia, you lay Emerald directly next to Cavalier, Emerald Zoysia will always, throughout the year, have a darker green color to it.
Interviewer: Okay. But as far as appearance, would you be able to tell them apart other than the color? They’re both fine bladed.
John: No, absolutely not. In my experience, and I have the grasses growing together next to one another and from the eye looking very closely at it you cannot tell the difference in the grass.
Interviewer: Okay. Okay, well I think that’s it. I think I’ve got what I need. I really appreciate it John.
John: All right, thank you very much.