Mow zoysia correctly for the best appearance

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: In the fall, I had my lawn replaced with zoysia. It is rooted and slowly growing, but as I mow it, I see big brown spots even though I am watering regularly. At what height should I be mowing? Jerry Clement, Cumming

A: Zoysia is best mowed at 2 inches high in most cases. The key to having a good-looking zoysia lawn is regular mowing, whether it looks like it needs mowing or not. If you mow it higher, there will be a steady buildup of harmful thatch at the base of plants. Brown patches are common in fine-bladed zoysia grass varieties, like ‘Emerald’, right now because it is so slow to green up. Have patience, eventually it will all be green. I’m troubled by your remark that you are watering regularly. With new sod, your goal should be to keep the top couple of inches of soil moist but never soggy. Regular watering done at this time of year can easily lead to soggy soil and root diseases.

Q: My shamrock was doing very good, then all of a sudden, it began looking wilty. At first, it was a lot fuller so I repotted it with a different pot and soil, but it still isn’t looking so good. Maryellen Clark, email

A: Your shamrock is doing what it’s supposed to do. These plants look their best in fall, winter and spring. But as temperatures warm up outdoors, even if your plant has been kept indoors continuously, its leaves will fade and the plant will go dormant. Store it in a cool place, check on it a couple of times to be sure the soil isn’t completely dry and bring it back out to a semi-sunny window in September. Water to keep the soil moist. When several leaves have emerged, you can fertilize with half-strength houseplant fertilizer. It will look like gangbusters in December and will go dormant again in May.

Q: I see ads for hummingbird houses. Do hummingbirds actually build nests in birdhouses? Harry Lewis, email

A: Hummingbirds do not build nests in manufactured housing, no matter how cute. They are not mentally programmed to nest in a cavity. Bluebirds, chickadees and purple martins adore a home place that’s dark inside. On the other hand, robins, hummingbirds and brown thrashers build cup-shaped nests out in the open. We rarely see hummingbird nests because they are built so high: 10-40 feet up, usually in the crotch formed by three branches. Look for them after a big summer storm. If you find a nest with eggs or a nesting mother inside, put it high in a small tree and go online to find out how to protect it from predators.

Email Walter at Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook page at for his latest tips.