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Ditching your Lawn? Why the Lawn Alternative, Zoysia Tenuifolia, Could Save You Time and Money

Ever since we revealed the Casa Project we've had the biggest response from our Instagram family regarding our "lawn alternative". One mention of "no mow" and the questions and comments came rolling in!! Since it was our first time using this different take on a lawn, we knew we needed to wait and learn before sharing all the details with you.


After installing and living with it for almost a year, we're ready to answer all your questions regarding this low maintenance, low water "lawn". Read on to discover why Zoysia Tenuifolia aka Korean Grass may be right for you.

Modern front yard area featuring a low maintenance lawn alternative, zoysia tenuifolia.

In the beginning, our front yard was as basic as ever with a thirsty grassy area that needed constant mowing. See our before pictures here! We wanted to ditch our traditional grass but the yard still needed the softness and visual relief a lawn provides.


So we thought long and hard about what lawn alternative to use in this space. As landscape designers, our focus is always on waterwise designs. And as busy, small business owners and parents of teens, we knew we wanted to minimize maintenance time.


Front yard entertaining area with a modern lawn alternative and fire pit area.

In the end we chose zoysia tenuifolia aka Korean grass. It comes in flats and fills in so quickly! (This is 6 months of growth.) It’s lush, green, super soft and definitely a conversation starter. RIP lawn mower and high water bills!


Close up of Zoysia Tenuifolia aka Korean grass lawn alternative.

Here are answers to your FAQs about the Lawn Alternative, Zoysia Tenuifolia:


Q: What climate will it work in? Can it handle extreme heat? Frost?

A: Zoysia works best in warm climates. We live in Oceanside, Ca where the hottest summer temps rarely top 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the coldest winter nights are rarely below 35 degrees. Zoysia loves the heat but hates cold. If your area drops into the low 30s, this grass is not for you!


Q: Does it resist kids playing on it?

A: Yes! Zoysia has a high wear tolerance (and feels so good on the toes!). But it is naturally a “bumpy” lawn, so for kids I recommend something flat like a fescue or bermuda.


Q: Do you add irrigation drip to each plant of grass or sprinkler system? How often do you water?

A: I have an overhead irrigation system with low flow MP rotators. I did not water the zoysia all winter. We got a lot of rain in SoCal so it wasn’t needed. For late spring and summer, I will water it twice a week for about 25 minutes. That’s using low flow heads!


Q: Can it grow in shade? Or does it need full sun?

A: It needs full to partial sun. I found that the areas that receive full sun are flourishing while the partial shade areas are slower to grow.


Q: What's the estimated cost per square foot?

A: A flat is around $25 - $30. A flat of zoysia plugs covers about 9 square feet installed 5" - 6" apart. I used 20 flats for my lawn area.


Q: Is it pet friendly?

A: Zoysia is naturally a thick, tough grass, so yes it will take pet traffic. But urine burns grass, period.


Q: What are the hardcore "no, no's" caring for this grass?

A: No frost or cold temperatures! It does not do well with no sun and cold temps.


Q: Do you lay it on flat ground or make mounds first? Is there a way to make it look less lumpy?

A: It comes in flats/plugs and I installed it 5” - 6” apart on a flat surface. See my install Reel here. Zoysia naturally grows in lumpy. That’s part of the charm!


Q: Do you really not mow it? How do you maintain it?

A: I’ve had it for almost 1 year and never mowed it. It will continue to grow and the mounds will get larger slowly over time. I may have to scalp it down the road if it gets too high, but I don’t see that coming for years!! I’ll keep you posted.


Q: How does it do with weeds?

A: There are still areas where it’s not completely filled in so weeds do pop up. Once it fills in completely there should be less weeds. Every landscape requires some maintenance. Get out there and pull them and then treat with this product.


Q: How does it fair with gophers?

A: I don’t have gopher problems so I couldn’t tell you but here’s the best trap I’ve found on the market to help you with those pesky critters!


Q: Where can I purchase it?

A: It took me a while to hunt it down. I had to special order it from our local Briggs Nursery. But I have seen it online as well.


Q: What will it look like fully mature?

A: Lush, velvety mounds of rich green grass! The mounds can get really big so if you’re looking for something flat it may not be right for you.


So are you ready to give up your traditional lawn and try out zoysia instead?? No worries, if not! There are plenty of other options to choose from. Check out this post on No Grass Yard Ideas or hit us up on Instagram with all your landscaping issues and concerns. We're happy to help!


And if you're ready to start your own yard project, browse our list of services here and fill out a contact form when you are ready. Let's build you the yard you've always dreamed of!!!







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