(According to Wikipedia)
Zoysia (pronounced /ˈzɔɪziə/) is a genus of eight species of creeping grasses native to southeastern and eastern Asia (north to China and Japan) and Australasia. These species, commonly called zoysia or zoysiagrass, are found in coastal areas or grasslands. The genus is named after the Austrian botanist Karl von Zois.
Because they can tolerate wide variations in temperature, sunlight, and water, these grasses are among the most widely used for lawns in temperate climates. They are used on golf courses to create fairways and teeing areas. They resist disease and hold up well under traffic. The cultivar Zoysia 'Emerald' (Emerald Zoysia; a hybrid between Z. japonica and Z. matrella) is particularly popular.
In subtropical climates of North America, zoysia grass has naturalized in places. For landscape use it is available commercially as sod in some areas. In typical savannah climates (warm wet/dry seasons) such as southern Florida, zoysia grows during the warm-wet summer and is dormant in the drier, cooler winter months. It is popular because of its fine texture and soft feel, and low growth habit. It can form dense mats and even mounds that grow over low features. In contrast to Saint Augustine grass, it generally requires less fertilization and is less prone to insect and fungus damage, depending on environmental conditions. For best appearance, turf experts recommend Reel Blade Mowers for zoysia.
St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) (also known as Charleston Grass in South Carolina) is a warm season lawn grass that is popular for use in tropical and subtropical regions. It is a low to medium maintenance grass that forms a thick, carpetlike lawn, crowding out most weeds and other grasses.
St. Augustine is a dark green grass with broad, flat blades. It spreads by above ground stolons and forms a dense layer of grass.
St. Augustine grass is one type of grass that commonly exists in most Caribbean and Mediterranean areas. It breeds best in tropical climates. It is often seen in lagoons, marshes, shorelines and wherever there is a good amount of moisture.
Only recently has commercially valuable viable seed for St. Augustine become available, so it has typically been propagated by plugs, sprigs, or sod. Once the grasses are cultivated, then they can propagate on their own.
St. Augustine can grow in a wide range of soil types with 5.0 to 8.5 pH. St. Augustine grasses will be in full bloom between springtime and summer. St Augustine grass produces runners that allow it to grow and spread.
St. Augustine grasses are popularly used in pastures and ranches. They are also a popular grass covers for home lawns. It rivals the reputation of Bermuda grass, although St. Augustine grasses are somewhat less drought tolerant.
St. Augustine comes in several varieties:
Want to convert your thirsty grass lawn to something friendlier to the environment — say, some native plants that don't need as much water?
That has been forbidden by some homeowners associations intent on requiring strict adherence to the rules requiring all lawns to be bright green and St. Augustine.
But a bill that just passed the Legislature is aimed at changing the landscape — literally.
If Gov. Charlie Crist signs Senate Bill 2080, a homeowner anywhere could convert his or her lawn to a "Florida-friendly" yard without fear of running afoul of association rules or even a local ordinance.
The goal is to make sure Florida's lawns no longer gulp quite so much of Florida's water supply, especially during a drought like the one the Tampa Bay region has been dealing with, explained Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, who put the landscape language into the bill.
"We need to make sure we're saving our water for human consumption and agriculture," said Baker, a gun-shop owner who just won an award from the Florida Ground Water Association.
While the bill passed both houses of the Legislature without a single nay vote, some homeowner groups are already voicing their displeasure.
Lush lawns are hallmarks of Florida's upscale communities like Silverthorn, a gated community in Hernando County, said Greg Kullman, a former Silverthorn board member. To forbid associations to enforce their rules "would be counterproductive to maintaining those standards," he said.
If Crist signs the bill, he predicted, "the governor would be committing political hara-kiri among the homeowners of the upscale communities."
In St. Petersburg's waterfront Venetian Isles subdivision, the rules require sodded grass — period. The association would not allow anything different, no matter what, president John Bodimer said.
"If it was in violation of the deed restrictions, we would challenge it," he promised.
Not everyone is so stuck on sod. Ted Thoman, president of Providence Lakes in Brandon, said as many as 50 homes in his 1,720-home community have already converted to Florida-friendly yards.
"I think we were ahead of the curve," he said.
The people opposing this bill "are fighting a rear-guard action," agreed Bill Bilodeau, president of the Pinellas County chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. "People are particularly tired of dealing with lawns in this era of drought."
Last year Beacon Woods in Pasco County made headlines after a resident whom the association took to court over his brown lawn wound up in jail because he didn't resod his yard.
Beacon Woods president Tom Pohl said he has been following the bill. While he likes the idea of conserving water, he complained that the bill is vague: "Florida friendly — what do we mean by that?"
Until recently, it meant "xeriscape," and that has been a problem, contended Sen. Baker.
"Some people had originally equated this with people putting rocks in their front yards, and cactus," he said. "It's not about rocks and cactus."
Xeriscaping, a technique developed out West, means planting a yard that needs little to no irrigation. Florida-friendly landscaping, developed by the University of Florida, aims to reduce the need for water, fertilizer, pesticides and pruning, all while still remaining attractive.
Current state law says that sod lawns established after October 2001 can be converted to xeriscaped lawns and homeowners associations can't stop them. This bill extends the protection to all lawns, no matter how old, and it substitutes "Florida-friendly" for "xeriscape."
Rather than list which plants fit the definition, the bill cites UF's nine principles of Florida-friendly yards, which include "right plant, right place" and "control stormwater runoff."
Baker's bill language says state water officials should even consider whether utilities are requiring developers to use Florida-friendly landscaping before deciding whether to issue them permits for increased water consumption.
If Crist signs the bill, predicted Bilodeau, "a lot of people will feel liberated."
Times staff writers Barbara Behrendt, Cristina Silva and Jodie Tillman contributed to this report.
You can replace your lawn with drought-tolerant plants like these — no matter what your homeowners association says — if the governor signs Senate Bill 2080. This Florida-friendly yard belongs to Wally Murphy in Providence Lakes in Brandon.