It was a banner year for Sean Aukanaii Fong in 2008.

That year, he graduated from University of Hawaii with degrees in Hawaiian studies and tropical plant and soil science.

Also, in 2008, Fong registered his fledgling company, Hawaiian Turfgrass, as a formal business.

“I started with no money or farming experience, just a seed planted in my mind after my first day in turfgrass management class,” Fong says.


A couple of years prior, Fong had sublet 6,000 square feet of land from his future wife’s grandfather, who raised pigs and grew bananas and vegetables on a leased 4-acre Mililani farm. By the time he graduated in 2008, he was leasing 5 acres.

His operation grew steadily — from 5 to 10 to 20 acres — as he invested all his profit into his business. Then, in 2014, he was able to purchase 67.5 acres in Mililani. Fong earned his license as a landscape contractor, and the following year, he was named Hawaii Small Business Association’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Fong is more than willing to share the recognition for his success with members of his team.

“All credit goes to my crew,” he says. “My brother-in-law, Ben, is our farm manager; he’s been with me since the beginning. Several of my wife’s cousins have been with us for over 10 years. Half my crew is family.”

One of the few sod farms in the state that can handle large public and commercial projects, Hawaiian Turfgrass is responsible for some of Oahu’s greenest spaces: Honolulu’s historic Thomas Square; athletic fields at Moanalua, Campbell and Radford high schools; and common areas in new developments in Kapolei and Ewa.


The company now grows its residential grass varieties in native soil, which uses less water and fertilizer. Grass grown in native soil also roots faster than plastic-grown sod when it is transplanted.

“We’ve invested in sod harvesters, which separate turfgrass from the soil with its roots still healthy and intact,” Fong says. “The pieces have the same depth, which results in level lawns.” The harvester can cut turf in rolls or smaller 16-by-24-inch slabs, manageable for homeowners handling their own installation.

As the state’s exclusive licensed producer of a half-dozen turfgrass varieties — including several types of zoysiagrass — Fong focuses on grasses that do well in Hawaii.

“I’ve selected each one for improved characteristics — less mowing, watering, fertilizer and maintenance; fewer insect and disease problems; and better appearance,” he says.

In 2021, Hawaiian Turfgrass obtained the state’s sole license to sell Stadium Zoysia, a finely textured, barefoot-friendly grass that has caused huge buzz in the industry.


“It doesn’t need much maintenance, so it requires less fertilizer and watering, and creates less runoff,” Fong says. “It exhibits the darkest green of any zoysiagrass on the market. We’re looking forward to seeing it all over Oahu this coming year.”

Now celebrating its 15th year as Oahu’s premier turfgrass producer, Hawaiian Turfgrass offers six different sod varieties, including new Stadium Zoysia. Visit to place an order and arrange for pickup or curbside delivery. Prefer to let the professionals handle the job? Call 808-371-0527 to schedule turnkey installation (minimum 400 square feet) by Jan. 31 for a $500 discount.

ADDRESS 94-840 Lanikuhana Ave., Mililani