Reunion Resort Selects Empire Zoysia

Reunion Resort Selects Empire Zoysia

Sod Solutions’ patented EMPIRE® Zoysia has been chosen as the exclusive landscape turfgrass at Reunion Resort & Club, a 2300-acre development just south of Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

“This is a great grass,” said Mark Cole, director of golf course maintenance for Ginn Golf, a division of the company that is developing Reunion and several other upscale communities in Florida and South Carolina. “It’s shade tolerant, heat resistant and drought resistant. We can take it down to 7/16-inch and put it on tee tops in shady areas or we can bring it up to an inch and a half and cut it with a regular rotary mower.”

Cole was speaking to a group of Australian sod producers augmented by Extension agents and landscape journalists. The Australians were touring the Southeastern U.S. in search of solutions to the island nation’s severe five-year drought. Reunion was one of many stops on the tour.

“I love this grass,” said Kevin Clingerman, landscape manager for Ginn. “When we started looking for an alternative to St. Augustinegrass, the first thing that attracted me to EMPIRE was esthetics. We are trying to create the aura of backyard Americana and I fell in love with the appearance of EMPIRE before we even began to evaluate its performance.”

Durability and drought-resistance were the first two performance factors that caught Clingerman’s attention.

“Reunion is a resort on steroids and a community in progress,” he said. “We are perpetually under construction but everything has to look beautiful. We have to be green even if it means putting the grass down before the irrigation system is in.”

Cole chimed in: “We put some of it on the ground without irrigation and it got no water for a month and then after half an inch of rain it greened up in two days.”

Perhaps EMPIRE’s most remarkable characteristic is its shade tolerance in comparison to other zoysiagrasses. Cole and Clingerman took the group to a site shaded by about a dozen mature oak trees and showed a stand of EMPIRE overseeded with winter rye and holding its own.

“That spot never gets any direct sunlight,” Cole said, “and it’s so shade tolerant that you don’t have to change your irrigation practices and it will come out (of overseed) better than bermuda.”

Neither Clingerman nor Cole has noted any disease problems and one treatment took care of an attack by billbugs. “You can spray anything on it that you’d put on bermudagrass,” Cole said.

“This is a great grass for Florida,” he added. “Water drives development in Florida. Because of consumption limitations, we’ve had to reduce or even eliminate irrigation to established areas to accommodate a grow-in situation on a golf course or major landscape feature. We can trust this grass to come back when we turn the water back on. We’ve done it numerous times.”

EMPIRE Zoysia was introduced to the United States by Sod Solutions, Inc. a leading developer of improved warm season turfgrasses. Sod Solutions has developed and released Palmetto® St. Augustine, EMPRESS® Zoysia, EMPIRE® Zoysia, Celebration™ Bermudagrass, and Sapphire™ St. Augustine in the United States, and is the U.S. patent holder for each of these grasses. Visit Sod Solutions, Inc. at for more information.

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