Popular Zoysia Varieties in Florida

Popular Zoysia Varieties in Florida

Popular Zoysia Varieties in Florida

With rain, humidity, heat and even hurricanes, living in the state of Florida means that there are a few climate challenges to overcome. Florida’s unique climate calls for grasses that are equipped to thrive in the state’s often extreme weather conditions, and with zoysia grasses becoming one of the most popular turfgrasses in the southern two-thirds of the United States, Sod University highlights the most popular zoysia varieties not only found in the state of Florida, but that will thrive in the state’s complex climates.

Zoysiagrass is especially suited for Florida application because of its versatility and strength when faced with sun, heat, traffic and wear. Here are just a few of the reasons why  zoysia sod is a great pick for your Florida lawn:

  1. Zoysiagrasses are known for being “warm season” varieties, which allows them to flourish in the South—but they can also handle Florida’s sparse cold snaps.
  2. Zoysia sod is both heat and drought tolerant, two of the biggest challenges for growing a healthy lawn in Florida.
  3. Zoysiagrass does best in full sun, but can also handle the shady spots found in many Florida lawns.
  4. Zoysiagrasses boast a dense growth pattern, making the grass very durable and able to withstand traffic and wear.
  5. Zoysia sod has low water and mowing requirements when compared to other varieties, making it low maintenance and easy to care for.

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the key features of zoysia sod, let’s take a look at some of the zoysiagrass varieties that do best in Florida. While zoysiagrasses share some of the same overall characteristics, there are different varieties of zoysia to fit the specific needs of your individual home lawn.

EMPIRE Zoysia

Bred in Brazil, EMPIRE® Zoysia has been extremely popular for both home and commercial applications in Florida because of its ability to flourish in warm, humid climates. Florida homeowners also love EMPIRE because of its wide, green blades that form a dense canopy. These wide, green blades give it a similar look to St. Augustines—a Florida favorite.

Many Florida lawns with St. Augustinegrass are plagued with chinch bugs, but EMPIRE is extremely chinch bug resistant. A great feature that EMPIRE possesses is that it has the ability to grow in a variety of soil conditions that other grasses may have a hard time with. It tolerates saline soils commonly found in tropical areas along coastlines.

Featuring tough runners, rhizomes and deep roots that provide excellent sod strength, EMPIRE effortlessly tolerates stressors like wear and tear from kids or pets and periods of drought. Learn more in EMPIRE: The Zoysiagrass Designed for Florida.

EMPIRE Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Home lawns with 6–8 hours of sunlight, golf, parks and commercial landscapes
  • Mow Height: 1–2 inches
  • Blade Width: Medium (5–7 mm)
  • Wear Tolerance: Very Good
  • Injury Recovery: Very Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
Innovation Zoysia

Developed in Kansas State and Texas A&M, InnovationTM Zoysia has proven again and again in studies to be more shade tolerant than many other zoysiagrass and to be one of the hardier choices among its competitors. It’s medium-fine dark green blades create a soft feel and attractive look. This grass thrives in transition zones that experience hot, humid summers but also encounter cold weather periods during the winter, which may make it difficult for other grass types to survive. Innovation’s overall quality makes it a top choice for many Florida homeowners.

Innovation Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Golf, parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
  • Mow Height: 1–2 inches
  • Blade Width: Fine-bladed
  • Wear Tolerance: Good
  • Injury Recovery: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Very Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
Geo Zoysia

If curb appeal is on the top of your list, the fine-bladed, deep green aestheic of GeoTM Zoysia is sure to please. Geo’s shade tolerance is excellent when compared to other zoysias, so if you are dealing with a more heavily shaded yard, it may be a good pick. This grass thrives in many soil types and is also a good choice for applications that will receive a lot of wear and tear because of its wear tolerance. A great pick for Florida, Geo Zoysia has a very good drought tolerance.

Geo Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Golf, parks, commercial and home lawns
  • Mow Height: .5–1.5 inches
  • Blade Width: 2 mm
  • Wear Tolerance: Very Good
  • Injury Recovery: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Very Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
Zeon Zoysia

This particular grass was designed specifically to give the landscape industry an option for a fine-bladed grass that has the ability to spread and grow quickly. Zeon® Zoysia has a high level of disease and insect resistance, a trait not seen in many other warm season grasses. Homeowners love that Zeon is low maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of fertilization or other treatments.

Zeon Zoysia Characteristics

  • Ideal Use: Golf, parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
  • Mow Height: 1.5 inches
  • Blade Width: Fine
  • Wear Tolerance: Excellent
  • Injury Recovery: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Very Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Good
Zorro Zoysia

If shade is a big factor in choosing a grass for your lawn, consider Zorro Zoysia. Able to withstand much more shade than other zoysias, Zorro is a top pick for shady yards. Other features of Zorro include a fine texture, dark green color, low water requirements, insect resistance and brown patch resistance. Zorro has excellent fall color retention that allows for it to stay green longer into the cooler months of the year before going dormant in the winter. The leaf texture is considered to be very fine-bladed and soft to feel.

Zorro Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Home lawns, commercial landscapes and parks
  • Mow Height: 1-2 inches
  • Blade Width: Medium (5–7 mm)
  • Wear Tolerance: Very Good
  • Injury Recovery: Not Sure
  • Shade Tolerance: Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
Palisades Zoysia

If your home is located in a part of Florida that often experiences drought, take a look at Palisades Zoysia. This drought tolerant grass is medium-to-coarse in texture that is very dense and easy to keep up with on a maintenance level. While this grass is heat tolerant and even salt tolerant, it won’t do in a very shady yard because it needs plenty of sunlight.

Palisades Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Home lawns, parks, golf, commercial and residential landscapes
  • Mow Height: 1–2 inches
  • Blade Width: Medium 5–7 mm
  • Wear Tolerance: Very Good
  • Injury Recovery: Very Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
palisades
Meyer Zoysia

This dense, slow growing, deep green grass was designed for transition zones that experience hot, humid summers as well as cold periods throughout the winter that may prevent other grasses from surviving year-round. Meyer Zoysia is slower to recover than competitors such as Innovation, as well as being more susceptible to disease and not as cold tolerant. Note that Meyer is no longer licensed and does not have strict growing regulations.

Meyer Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
  • Mow Height: 1.5–2.5 inches
  • Blade Width: 8–9 mm
  • Wear Tolerance: Good
  • Injury Recovery: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Very Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Good

It is important to know all of your options so that you can make the best, informed choice when installing a new turfgrass variety at home. Oftentimes, the best turfgrass variety all depends on what you are looking for and what the lawn’s environment presents. The above turfgrass selection demonstrates some of the top-performing cultivars for the state of Florida and its tropical climate, but if you are looking for a low maintenance variety, be sure to read The Best Grass for Low Maintenance in Florida.

St. Augustines are highly popular selections in Florida home lawns, but certain zoysia varieties like EMPIRE are better equipped for the Florida climate or the environment it presents than most St. Augustine grasses. Read Turf Wars: Zoysia vs. St. Augustine for more information and be sure to check out another Sod University blog on All About Zoysia Sod.

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