PDA

View Full Version : Ultimate Flora versus Empire Zoysia


billyandholly
04-13-2012, 11:56 AM
I am looking for pros and cons to compare Ultimate Flora and Empire Zoysia for a resod of a lawn in NW Florida. 30% of the lawn is moderately shaded by high Southern Pines. It is a flat yard near the coast. Good irrigation. Thanks for any tips or experiences!

Greg Amann
04-13-2012, 11:12 PM
Our experience with Ultimateflora on sandy soils in central Florida has been awful.
In the four years we have been watching it, it never develops a thick vertical root system. In full sun it constantly exhibits drought stress.
I am seeing where sod companies sold a customer "Empire". When in fact the growth habits even as long as 4 years later make me think it is "Ultimateflora". In the Villages I have seen them side by side and there is a distinced difference.
We treat both Empire lawns and Ultimateflora. We have Empire that is cut at about 3/4 of an inch and all the clippings are removed. It looks like a golf green. Three houses down the street we have one that is cut at about 3 inches and it is fluffy but beautiful.
We warn the people when we pickup a yard that we feel is Ultimateflora. It is usually someone who has resodded in the last 4 years and has already tried at least 2 other companies.
We are starting to see Jamur show up here. I like the color the best of all the local zoysias. It is more of a blue/green. So far, drought resistence and spring green up look good on it.

billyandholly
04-14-2012, 08:54 AM
Thanks - very helpful!

Landscape Poet
08-20-2013, 11:48 PM
Our experience with Ultimateflora on sandy soils in central Florida has been awful.
In the four years we have been watching it, it never develops a thick vertical root system. In full sun it constantly exhibits drought stress.
I am seeing where sod companies sold a customer "Empire". When in fact the growth habits even as long as 4 years later make me think it is "Ultimateflora". In the Villages I have seen them side by side and there is a distinced difference.
We treat both Empire lawns and Ultimateflora. We have Empire that is cut at about 3/4 of an inch and all the clippings are removed. It looks like a golf green. Three houses down the street we have one that is cut at about 3 inches and it is fluffy but beautiful.
We warn the people when we pickup a yard that we feel is Ultimateflora. It is usually someone who has resodded in the last 4 years and has already tried at least 2 other companies.
We are starting to see Jamur show up here. I like the color the best of all the local zoysias. It is more of a blue/green. So far, drought resistence and spring green up look good on it.

I picked up my first UltimateFlora Zoysia lawn this week. The chemical company that treats it is a good company, has lots of experience in handling zoysia very well, better than most IMHO.
The lawn as a whole has some serious issues...many of which exhibit what Greg stated. In full sun it appeared that it was in drought stress. Did not appear to be recovering from Brown patch incurred in winter where as Empire or even St. Augustine would no longer have any signs of BP if properly managed this far into the season.

The root system is also as Greg has described. The chemical company had take a plug out in two locations to inspect. Upon listening to the tech for the company explain it sounds like one area it was almost as if the lawn had never really grabbed. The other area the roots where reported to be less than a inch deep (this was the better of the two).

I will report that on this lawn, it does appear that the Ultimate is doing much better than Empire would in full shade. Although not really thick, the property does have a acceptable stand under a large tree which provides dense shade. Dense enough shade that if I was being called for SA installation I would of recommend Seville or at least Palmetto.

We will be reel cutting the lawn so I am hopeful that we can get it to be much denser by doing so, however it does concern me on the root system being so lackluster. The home owner has stated that they would be open to replacing the areas in full to good sun with empire if all else fails which may be ultimately the best solution but I refuse to suggest that until all other attempts have been made to save the existing turf.

The chemical tech and myself spread a 40 lb bag of sand in one of the week areas to see if it helps density at all. Irrigation audit was done and it appears that coverage is good to very good in areas where the ultimate flora "appears" to be in drought stress.

Keith
08-21-2013, 01:03 AM
Our experience with Ultimateflora on sandy soils in central Florida has been awful.
In the four years we have been watching it, it never develops a thick vertical root system. In full sun it constantly exhibits drought stress.
I am seeing where sod companies sold a customer "Empire". When in fact the growth habits even as long as 4 years later make me think it is "Ultimateflora". In the Villages I have seen them side by side and there is a distinced difference.
We treat both Empire lawns and Ultimateflora. We have Empire that is cut at about 3/4 of an inch and all the clippings are removed. It looks like a golf green. Three houses down the street we have one that is cut at about 3 inches and it is fluffy but beautiful.
We warn the people when we pickup a yard that we feel is Ultimateflora. It is usually someone who has resodded in the last 4 years and has already tried at least 2 other companies.
We are starting to see Jamur show up here. I like the color the best of all the local zoysias. It is more of a blue/green. So far, drought resistence and spring green up look good on it.

Wow, man! Thats some good info. Maybe this why I hate "Empire." You just described most of them I mow. 6" of rainfall over a few days and it looks good. Dries out for two and is all stressed out. I call it crackhead grass. If it doesn't get it's daily fix it flips out.

greendoctor
08-21-2013, 03:55 AM
Maybe the rooting issues have something to do with nematodes. Ultimate Flora might be nematode sensitive and that problem shows up in residential areas. There's a whole host of subsurface pests I have to think about now that Diazinon is no longer legal. Zoysia also grows better at a pH range between 6-7. Deviations from that range just makes the grass more sensitive and hard to keep nice. Zoysia is found wild in Asia in extreme environments in the wild. However, under those conditions, the grass is not mowed alt all and people certainly do not expect it to look nice. I keep on hearing about how zoysia will tolerate salt, alkaline soil, acid soil, low fertility and drought. I know that I am not in the business of torture testing the grass or trying to do the bare minimum for political or financial reasons.

bugsNbows
08-21-2013, 09:42 AM
Nematodes are certainly a possibility but, it our experience, the nematodes typically take some time to develop damaging populations. Additionally, the damage / symptoms are sporadically occurring throughout the lawn. We have pulled some samples and sent them up to the Nematology lab. Some come back with Lance, Sting or Stubby Root, but without pattern or correlation to actual sites.The problematic UltimateFlora lawns went south from the get-go, and the symptoms were widespread. Additionally, this is usually muck grown sod and thus totally different from our sand based soils. One could conjecture that during the UltimateFlora breeding and development process some root involvement has occurred that (in the field) interferes with root initiation, development and tack-down. Our bottom line take away (so far) is that UltimateFlora is not a desirable variety for this locale. The Empire variety seems best for here primarily because it can tolerate rotary mowings... which is what is most often employed. I'd prefer to see reel mowers used, but it's not likely to become a widespread trend. As Greg stated Jamur is showing up and seems quite nice also.

greendoctor
08-21-2013, 01:39 PM
I have the odd feeling that the most Mclane and Tru-Cut mowers are sold per capita in Hawaii. Any homeowner that is not mowing a weed patch has one and the majority of mowing people have reel mowers. How are the nutrient levels in the areas where the Ultimate Flora has trouble taking root? When people have actual sand in their yard, I stop trying to apply everything in 30-45 day shots, never mind a spread and forget. Rain and irrigation will leach much of what is broadcasted past the grass roots causing pollution. Now, a good practice that I follow should I be working with pure sand is to till in 6" of composted organic matter before grassing an area.

bugsNbows
08-21-2013, 04:10 PM
The predominately sandy soils here are rather devoid of OM. We have relatively high Phosphorus levels as it is mined nearby. Everything else pretty much has to be regularly supplied... kind of like hydroponic lawn maintenance! LOL. I sure wish these folks would use more reel mowers to deliver finer cuts rather than shredding everything to bits.

greendoctor
08-21-2013, 04:34 PM
Got it. Too much P is just as bad as not enough. Lawns that have gotten too much 10-30-10 or 16-15-15 then have problems with micronutrient deficiencies. It is amazing how well grass grows when the fertilizer program includes monthly applications of liquid micronutrients. You know, I hate it when a zoysia variety is advertised as "can be mowed with a rotary". Those varieties that "can be mowed with a rotary" look better when cut with a reel at 1-11/2". Unless someone is keeping a lawn wet at night or it is raining constantly, I do not see large patch on zoysia in Hawaii. The only people that seem to have disease problems are the ones that have zoysia kept at over 11/2". A low cut reduces humidity in the turf canopy. Zoysia leaves are always very fibrous. Especially if the grass is on a starvation fertility program. What that means is shredding of the tips when mowing. Rotary mowers are dulled within seconds of use. The sand being vacuumed up into the blades hastens that process. Worse than that is usage of string on zoysia. A dull reel or a reel set for no contact and all of the relief angle cut off the blades is equally destructive. A reel set for zero contact and no relief is dull in an hour or two. That method of reel set up works on a golf course where the golf mechanic re grinds the blades every week and they are cutting bent or bermuda.

williams lcm
08-21-2013, 06:49 PM
I have a few customers that want the zoyia cut high. 4.5 or 5 inches.it looks amazing. The lawn stays green before and after cutting. I see some lco's cut it super short and it looks brown when they get done cutting it. Yes they are cut with a ztr and not a reel mower.

Landscape Poet
08-21-2013, 09:04 PM
I would be interested in Gregs opinion in jamur currently as his orignial post was a while back. I have one Jamur lawn that is reel cut and looks very good and as he indicated the color is a darker color in most cases of Empire with less inputs being delivered, however it does appear that it does suffer from drought stress issues if not given proper watering/aka a little extra boost during our hottest periods where as Empire I do not see the same effects unless watering is completely avoided by the homeowner when they forget to turn their irrigation system back on after shutting it down for whatever reason during a rain event.

greendoctor
08-22-2013, 02:55 AM
I have a few customers that want the zoyia cut high. 4.5 or 5 inches.it looks amazing. The lawn stays green before and after cutting. I see some lco's cut it super short and it looks brown when they get done cutting it. Yes they are cut with a ztr and not a reel mower.

Any zoysia or bermuda will not look good if a low cut is attempted with a rotary mower. My concerns with keeping a lawn high is water loss, disease, and thatch. Let me explain the water loss. Two zoysia lawns under the same conditions. One is cut at 1" or less, the other is at 2-4". I see the high cut one wilt first.

Landscape Poet
08-22-2013, 10:23 PM
Any zoysia or bermuda will not look good if a low cut is attempted with a rotary mower. My concerns with keeping a lawn high is water loss, disease, and thatch. Let me explain the water loss. Two zoysia lawns under the same conditions. One is cut at 1" or less, the other is at 2-4". I see the high cut one wilt first.

I would say some lawns can look acceptable if cut low with a rotary IF it is properly installed. This means a lot of prep work upon installation ensuring the grating is correct.
I have one lawn that they will not pay for the reel but we installed two years or so ago. I can take my 36 inch on and cut at 2.5 inches all day (Empire) and it looks very respectable. For sure it does not look as nice as a reel but still what would be consider nice for a residential lawn.

Now with that said I have seen lawns where they have attempted to lower the cut height below 3 inches and cut it with larger zero and the sod installation was basic and simple. The result is a lawn that is scalped all over and never seems to adjust to the lower cutting.


Can you explain why a lawn cut at 1 inch for example would be less likely to experience drought?

Keith
08-22-2013, 11:50 PM
I would assume due to there being less leaf for the root system to support.

Landscape Poet
08-23-2013, 12:20 AM
I would assume due to there being less leaf for the root system to support.

But would the root system be as strong as there is not as much leaf to support root growth/plant health? Which came first the root or the leave?

greendoctor
08-23-2013, 02:55 AM
I would assume due to there being less leaf for the root system to support.

Correct. Under the same management, water, fertilizer, soil, high cut zoysia is the first to wilt.

greendoctor
08-23-2013, 03:30 AM
But would the root system be as strong as there is not as much leaf to support root growth/plant health? Which came first the root or the leave?

Grass can be kept as high desired. But, the question becomes, how much are you allowed to water and fertilize it? The people making those rules do not have a legitimate horticultural or agronomic background. Last thing they have in mind is the health of the grass or the practicality of their mandates. I am quite aware of rooting depth vs height of cut. There are times when I want grass to put down roots. Like during a grow in. So I let it grow 4x its normal height of cut of 1" or less. Then it is cut down. Lots of people in the business at least know not to mow newly laid sod until it has grabbed the ground. Then again, trying to run a Tru-Cut or McLane on zoysia that has not grabbed can't be pretty.

Landscape Poet
09-03-2013, 10:17 PM
Talked to one of Gregg's ( post #2 ) partners today to try to figure out there experience with ultimate flora zoysia. As stated above it was not good. Rooting issues seem to be a concern. After discussing with Gregg's partner Ric today his experience and what I have seen on this turf the last couple of week, I have giving up on regular routine FL watering schedule. The turf in full sun especially seems to be in drought stress on every visit.
Rooting depth or establishment of any root system seems to be the common factor. SO my line of thought is this.....if the root system is not there...why water like it is? What good does twice weekly watering deeply do if the root system is not there? I kicked the irrigation system on for daily waterings. Lets see if the grass responds well to this treatment. I figure we have established it does not have a good root system, is being reel cut like a golf course....why not try watering it like one and see what the result is.

Florida Gardener
09-03-2013, 11:28 PM
Talked to one of Gregg's ( post #2 ) partners today to try to figure out there experience with ultimate flora zoysia. As stated above it was not good. Rooting issues seem to be a concern. After discussing with Gregg's partner Ric today his experience and what I have seen on this turf the last couple of week, I have giving up on regular routine FL watering schedule. The turf in full sun especially seems to be in drought stress on every visit.
Rooting depth or establishment of any root system seems to be the common factor. SO my line of thought is this.....if the root system is not there...why water like it is? What good does twice weekly watering deeply do if the root system is not there? I kicked the irrigation system on for daily waterings. Lets see if the grass responds well to this treatment. I figure we have established it does not have a good root system, is being reel cut like a golf course....why not try watering it like one and see what the result is.
Or just scrap it for empire.

Landscape Poet
09-04-2013, 07:42 AM
Or just scrap it for empire.

That is on the table and the Home owner is prepared to do it if needed, but I figure why not play with it and try to solve the puzzle (if possible) before resorting to the drastic measure of replacing.

Deep in my heart especially after talking to Ric from Greg's company above I am thinking that is going to be the only option, however Ric stated that he they did not get much time to study it as the person who installed it in the areas they were concered with replaced it with empire very soon.

The positive news is he said that they put some down at the shop to play with and two years later with no attention etc etc these test plots look better than ever, so maybe it is honestly it is just a time issue to get it established?

bugsNbows
09-05-2013, 09:24 AM
Yep, time apparently will help ... but who can wait several years for establishment?

greendoctor
09-07-2013, 07:16 AM
Talked to one of Gregg's ( post #2 ) partners today to try to figure out there experience with ultimate flora zoysia. As stated above it was not good. Rooting issues seem to be a concern. After discussing with Gregg's partner Ric today his experience and what I have seen on this turf the last couple of week, I have giving up on regular routine FL watering schedule. The turf in full sun especially seems to be in drought stress on every visit.
Rooting depth or establishment of any root system seems to be the common factor. SO my line of thought is this.....if the root system is not there...why water like it is? What good does twice weekly watering deeply do if the root system is not there? I kicked the irrigation system on for daily waterings. Lets see if the grass responds well to this treatment. I figure we have established it does not have a good root system, is being reel cut like a golf course....why not try watering it like one and see what the result is.

:dizzy: if sod has not put down deep roots, it does not make sense to water it only twice a week. Was that rule made by a lawn hater? If I or any other professional set irrigation for only twice a week on sod that has not grabbed the ground, we would be looking at a sod replacement at our expense and that is if we were not kicked off the property for incompetence. I set the irrigation to apply an inch of water per week on a twice a day cycle until the sod is rooted. This is based on an ET for our region of about an inch per week and no rain. Then the irrigation is reduced to once per day and finally down to 2-3 times per week. This happens gradually. Grass on almost pure sand will need to be watered 3 x per week. I can stretch it to once a week on poorly drained clay. Of course, there is no need to do this if it is raining an inch or more per week. Then again, be careful of cloudy, low light conditions. Zoysia needs both sun and water to grow. I have seen zoysia refuse to take when there is no sun and constant rain for days on end. It is also possible to over water zoysia sod as well. That happens when there is no concept of what the irrigation system is putting out vs how much the grass needs according to ET.

azeiler
09-11-2013, 05:46 PM
I have someone in S Florida with a very small backyard that thinks he wants a variety of Zoysia called Zeon (he actually just wants a golf course backyard). I don't see many people selling this variety and actually haven't found it yet in S Florida. His contention for wanting this variety is that it has a fine texture and is shade tolerant. His backyard only gets about 1-2 hours of direct sunlight and 4-5 hours of indirect sunlight through tall, very well trimmed Live Oak trees. The rest of the time, it's in the shade of his townhouse.

With that little light, almost any grass is going to have trouble growing (right now it's just weeds). I'm not sure what to recommend at this point. Any ideas?

Florida Gardener
09-11-2013, 09:32 PM
I have someone in S Florida with a very small backyard that thinks he wants a variety of Zoysia called Zeon (he actually just wants a golf course backyard). I don't see many people selling this variety and actually haven't found it yet in S Florida. His contention for wanting this variety is that it has a fine texture and is shade tolerant. His backyard only gets about 1-2 hours of direct sunlight and 4-5 hours of indirect sunlight through tall, very well trimmed Live Oak trees. The rest of the time, it's in the shade of his townhouse.

With that little light, almost any grass is going to have trouble growing (right now it's just weeds). I'm not sure what to recommend at this point. Any ideas?
I wouldn't put down any sod with that little light...i would landscape it.
Posted via Mobile Device

azeiler
09-12-2013, 10:34 AM
I wouldn't put down any sod with that little light...i would landscape it.
Posted via Mobile Device

That's going to be a tough sell. But I won't install grass if it's not going to last. I did drive around the development and noticed grass (st augustine) underneath similar trees that are shading his backyard. The only difference is that the more lush grass under these trees have direct sunlight both in the morning and evening. The grass in the more shaded areas around the development is thin, but still nice. There is a small area of his (already small) backyard that may actually get 2+ hours of direct sunlight. Maybe this can be nice grass and the rest landscaped. I'm still back to my question of what grass will do best in low light. At this point, I may even try to direct him to st augustine (which he hates) if that's what's best.