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Empire Zoysia Takes on LVN

The summer season is here and with it comes daydreams of cookouts, swimming in the pool, playing in the sprinkler with kids or playing catch with your favorite furry friends. All these fun ideas have one thing in common—they all take place on your lawn! It’s important to have a lawn looking its best for these warm summer memories and if you live in the Sunshine State, maintaining a lawn is no simple task.

By Valerie Smith

Florida’s climate comes with high temperatures, dense humidity, afternoon storms and sometimes even hurricanes! In addition to these challenges, there’s a new nuisance that Florida is facing, which is a turfgrass issue that can destroy entire Floratam St. Augustine lawns—Lethal Viral Necrosis (LVN). To make matters worse, LVN is currently incurable.

Lethal Viral Necrosis was first verified in Palm Beach County in 2014. It is a condition stemming from the Sugarcane Mosaic Virus (SCMV). However, it has now spread throughout South Florida and continues to expand into other regions of the state. After testing, researchers have found the problem is a viral condition that causes the decline in turfgrass health and eventually death. This is only found in Floratam St. Augustine lawns, which is the most popular grass type found throughout Florida yards.

This disease cannot be treated with any fungicide or pesticide. Prevention with proper sanitation and the overall replacement with other turfgrasses are currently the only ways of dealing with LVN in residential and commercial landscapes.

LVN-infected Floratam St. Augustine that’s later replaced with new Floratam sod will simply become reinfected and die again. Reinstalled Floratam tends to die within just a few months after installation. A lot of homeowners who want to completely deviate from St. Augustine after this experience chose to install EMPIRE® Zoysia grass instead. However, if the lawn is located in a lot of shade, another type of St. Augustine grass may be the better option as St. Augustines tend to tolerate shady landscapes better.

EMPIRE Zoysia is a medium-bladed, dark green zoysia grass that isn’t susceptible to LVN. Even more importantly, EMPIRE’s wider blades blend better with other neighboring St. Augustine lawns. St. Augustine grasses are common throughout the state of Florida but EMPIRE is comparably strong with tolerance to heat and humidity. EMPIRE is also much softer than St. Augustines, reminding transplants of the grasses from up North.

In the late ‘90s, EMPIRE was discovered in lush, tropical Brazil and brought to the U.S.

as a solution for Florida’s climate challenges. This makes it effortless for EMPIRE to thrive in the harsh conditions in Florida. With strong runners, rhizomes and deep roots, it’s no surprise that EMPIRE can also effortlessly tolerate stressors like wear and tear from kids or pets as well as periods of drought.

Additionally, EMPIRE is chinch bug-resistant, which is a serious problem in Florida St. Augustine grasses. Given the right time frame, hard-to-see chinch bugs can easily eat St. Augustine lawns, but they don’t seem to affect EMPIRE, making it all the more reason to choose EMPIRE Zoysia, the Proven Zoysia Grass®.

To learn more about EMPIRE Zoysia, visit: and to read more about Lethal Viral Necrosis or other lawn and garden care practices, visit