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The Lawn Guide

A proven lawn care recipe for Australia's most popular Zoysia turf variety, researched and conducted by Australia's own lawn care expert...


Empire Zoysia Lawn Care
Option 1. For lawns that receive moderate wear, where good winter colour is desired, and low to moderate mowing is desired.

Fertilise at the beginning of April and again in mid-June with slow release fertiliser applications at a heavy rate. Empire needs less fertiliser than all other turf types, so all other fertilising applications other than autumn and winter are optional and not necessary to keep a healthy lawn under these circumstances. The benefit of fertilising just in autumn and winter only, is far less mowing. Empire is very happy with just these two applications every year. Fertilised well in autumn and winter and shortly mown, results in Empire having much better winter colour. Longer Empire tends to brown off more on the tips. So the best option is to mow short from around the 10th of March. Keep it like that till mid-September. Then you can let it grow a little longer. If you have shade, or prefer the lawn a little longer, the other option is to fertilise as advised, and if in the middle of winter the tips brown off, simply mow very lightly removing the burnt tips. In regions that get only a small number of light frosts, the tips will not brown. For example, Sydney’s east and inner west, or most parts of Brisbane will not tip burn.

Option 2. For lawns that get high wear, or where you want a super dark green lawn all year round and do not mind mowing a little more.
Fertilise in autumn and winter as per option 1, then also fertilise in mid-October with a moderate rate of slow release fertiliser, or a heavy rate of organic type fertiliser. Empire does not need fertiliser in summer; however it may be worth considering further optional applications under extreme circumstances. If your lawn receives very heavy wear from dogs or kids, or you want a dark green lawn all summer and do not mind mowing more, you can optionally fertilise again in mid-November, and at the end of February with moderate rates of slow release fertiliser. THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME TO FERTILISE IS AUTUMN AND WINTER.

Option 3. For lawns that you want reasonable winter colour, but do not care if your lawn browns off a little near the middle of winter, or if you live in Queensland where it will generally stay green in winter with just one fertilise, and your main aim is to mow much less.
Fertilise at the beginning of April only with slow release fertiliser applications at a heavy rate. Empire will still have quick spring green up. Empire needs less fertiliser than any other lawn type. Option 3 will mean less than a half to a third the mowing of Buffalo turf, and a quarter to a fifth the mowing of Couch and Kikuyu.

Option 4. No fertiliser at all for roadsides or low to moderate wear areas for people who hate mowing, resulting in a lawn that requires only 2 to 4 mows per year.
For many years roadsides have used Empire all over Australia. In most regions for roadsides by not fertilising, Empire only needs two mows per year; three to four in Queensland. The lawn is usually left to grow a little longer before mowing, for example 75mm to 90mm. Then it is mown to about 40mm to 50mm high. Empire will brown off in winter with no fertiliser, but it will green up quickly in spring. Treating the lawn like this will not result in a fully manicured looking lawn, but it will generally look acceptable. University research in the USA shows Empire can live on very low nutrients compared to other turf types.


In general Empire can be mown very short or longer depending on the desired finish. If you want a green manicured bowling green type lawn, regular short mowing will achieve that. As a general lawn, fortnightly spring and summer mowing should be enough, unless it is highly fertilised, then mowing each 10 days may be needed for a bowling green appearance. With no spring and summer fertilising, Empire can usually be mown every 3 to 4 weeks or so. Mow to a height that does not cause scalping. E.g. 35 to 45 mm. Mowing practice can also help keep Empire greener in winter. Leave at a moderate length for most of the year. If after all the recommended fertilising the lawn browns off in winter, lightly mow the Empire. Under moderate frosts and even the odd heavy frost, mainly the tips of the leaf burns on Empire, thus a light mow removes most of the burn making the lawn instantly greener. The best method to keep Empire greener in winter though, is to mow it short from early autumn, and keep it like that. A combination of autumn and winter fertilising, and a shortly mown Empire will provide good winter colour, particularly for NSW and Queensland. To improve winter colour and general health of Empire, it is recommended to dethatch the lawn every second or third spring. Around the end of August in Queensland or Sydney, or early September in cooler areas like Melbourne dethatch the lawn. The easiest method is to simply mow the lawn very short, and collect the clippings. Another method is to hire a dethatching machine, or simply lightly top dress the lawn.


Watering your Empire lawn in a dry winter can also improve its winter colour. If the ground or lawn is very dry, frosts have a habit of burning the lawn more. Watering after fertilising also helps activate the slow release fertiliser. In the warmer months water when the leaf starts to dry out. It is better to apply heavy deep watering. If you get water on soon after the leaf starts to shrivel, it will quickly green up. If water restrictions prevent you from watering, do not panic if the lawn is at least one year old. Due to its deep rhizomes, a mature Empire lawn can withstand long periods of drought without dying. It will brown off and go dormant but when it rains again or it is irrigated it will generally reshoot well and green up. If you live in desert regions or places like Perth with little summer rain, some top up watering is required to keep Empire alive. In research in the USA by a water authority, Empire withstood drought far better than Buffalo turf.

Weed Control

Controlling weeds in Empire is much easier than in Kikuyu, Buffalo and even Couch. Firstly a healthy dense Empire lawn will resist many weed types. If a few weeds do invade you can simply hand weed them. If it is a greater weed problem, Empire is more tolerant to chemicals than most lawn types. The following are some types of chemicals that can be used. These Chemicals have different labels in each state or in each country where Empire is sold, so check label rates and details. Some of these chemicals are available in garden centres, whilst others are mainly available to weed control professionals.

Chemicals that can be used on Empire Zoysia.
For most broadleaf weeds (flat weeds). Use Bromoxinyl + MCPA (Domestic and Professional), Dicamba + MCPA (Kamba M) (Domestic and Professional), or Spearhead (CLOPYRALID + DIFLUFENICAN) (Professional).

For many grass weeds, including annual grasses such as Kikuyu, Paspalum, Mullumbimby Couch and Sedges, use DSMA. (Domestic and Professional)

To kill Nut grass and other sedges use Sempra. (Professional)

For a combination of some grass weeds and some broadleaf weeds try Monument. (Professional)

As a Pre-emergent to stop weed seeds germinating, for established grass only, not for use when turf is establishing, use Barricade (Prodiamine) (Professional) or Ronstar (OXADIAZON) (Professional).

Pests and Diseases

Empire is far less susceptible to lawn grub attack than Buffalo, Couch, and Kikuyu, however damage can occasionally occur. If you see insect damage, treat accordingly. Generally Lawn Grubs prefer Buffalo, Couch and Kikuyu to Zoysia though, as Zoysia has a biology that makes it far less attractive. Army worm is rare in Empire, but can happen, and if you see masses of caterpillars walking across your lawn, wait 20 to 30 minutes or so and see if they are just travelling to your neighbour’s lawn, and leaving your Empire mainly alone. Usually this will be the case, but if they in the unlikely event do start eating it down, use Baythroid Lawn Grub and Garden Insecticide. In Queensland occasionally like some other turf types Empire can get Mealy Bug. Brown patches occur with a milky residue. Although this is rare to occur on Empire, it’s still possible, so if you see this use Confidor Lawn and Garden Insecticide from Yates. This will also control black beetle, which also are less likely to prefer Empire to other lawns, and actually rarely cause damage in Empire.

We have after many years yet to see any fungus or diseases on Empire on the East Coast of Australia that affect other lawns. If you do see any please let us know, as we always strive to help customers who use Empire have the knowledge to look after their lawn in the best way possible.

Visit the EMPIRE ZOYSIA website.

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The Lawn Guide
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BIO: Todd Layt ~ Australia's Lawn Care Expert
Lawn Care Expert

It is with gratitude that I welcome Todd Layt as a Special Guest Contributor to The Lawn Guide as Australia's Lawn Care Expert.

Todd's 35 years of experience with lawns began in the 70's when as a young lad, he would help his dad harvest turf on the family farm with a walk behind Ryan Turf Cutter. This love of lawns has continued throughout Todd's life when in the 1980's he was manager of Australia's largest turf farm, and then going into business for himself starting his own turf farm called Abulk Turf.

These days, Todd is most highly regarded as the breeder of the Premium turf variety Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo (the world's finest leaf and most shade tolerant Buffalo grass), and the breeder of Australia's first native Zoysia lawn called Nara Native Turf, as well as being the breeder of many popular water-wise plants in Australia.

Todd now heads up Ozbreed, who promote the world's best selling and Australia's lowest maintenance Soft Buffalo lawn… Palmetto Soft Leaf Buffalo, as well as the extremely hardy fine leaf Empire Zoysia.

And if that wasn't enough, Todd Layt is easily Australia's most proficient lawn care author, writing for many lawn industry magazines and online lawn care resources which share honest lawn care information with Australian homeowners and turf professionals alike.

I also acknowledge that the highest quality lawns which Todd Layt promotes through Ozbreed are advertised on The Lawn Guide.

I welcome Todd Layt as Australia's Lawn Care Expert on The Lawn Guide.

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~ Breeder of Sapphire Buffalo
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