Popular Zoysia Varieties in the Carolinas

Popular Zoysia Varieties in the Carolinas

Popular Zoysia Varieties in the Carolinas

Zoysiagrass is native to Asia, but has been a popular choice here in the Carolinas for many years. Zoysia does best in the southern two-thirds of the country as it is known as a warm season grass but can also tolerate cooler temperatures—this is perfect for the varying temperatures of the transition zones in the Carolinas. Growing in the pattern of a thick carpet, zoysia does an excellent job of choking out weeds. Its blades create a thick canopy and are often soft to the touch, creating a beautiful look. One of the great qualities of zoysiagrass is that it is drought resistant and can survive during periods without water—some zoysia varieties more than others. Its deep root system allows zoysia varieties to withstand traffic and environmental stressors. Zoysiagrasses will likely go dormant during Carolina winters, but are very resilient and able to bounce back in the spring.

With zoysia being one of the most commonly found grasses in North and South Carolina home lawns due to its ability to thrive in warm, tropical climates, Sod University lists out some of the most popular types of zoysia varieties. Read below to learn more about some of their differences and discover which zoysia variety is the best fit for you.

EMPIRE Zoysia

EMPIRE® Zoysia is a widely available, coarse-textured, high traffic tolerant grass. Homeowners love EMPIRE because it requires less maintenance than typical zoysias and thrives in places that other grasses struggle. A special benefit that EMPIRE is loved for is its ability to go long periods of time without water—a needed feature during the dry spells of the Carolinas. Instead of turning brown during periods of drought, EMPIRE’s dormancy mechanism allows for it to go dormant during periods without water so that it survives. Once EMPIRE is being watered again, it bounces back to its luscious green color quickly.

Although zoysiagrass originated in Asia, EMPIRE is a Brazilian Zoysia japonica developed for a wide spectrum of applications including many home lawns throughout North and South Carolina. Since EMPIRE was bred in Brazil, it can perform really well in tropical, warm climates that receive a lot of rain. EMPIRE offers exceptional performance, low maintenance, a blue-green color and a blade width that is wider than most other zoysia varieties.

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

InnovationTM Zoysia is an up and coming fine-textured zoysia known for its great cold tolerance. Developed by researchers at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University, Innovation is a more versatile zoysiagrass with a fine leaf blade that provides high curb appeal in home lawns. Its fine texture and rich green color make it a sought-after choice for homeowners who want a gorgeous lawn. In the transitional zones of the upstate areas of the Carolinas, Innovation is a great solution to the tricky transition zone climate. An added bonus is that Innovation needs far less water than the other transition zone grasses. This zoysiagrass variety is hardy, yet attractive, has a very good shade tolerance and is easy to maintain. Aesthetically, Innovation is an appealing dark green color with a soft feel. Other features Innovation offers include its bluegrass billbug resistance, large patch disease resistance and fall color retention and spring green-up, which allows it to stay green longer throughout the year.

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
Zorro Zoysia

This very fine-bladed, dark green colored grass is known for its durability, shade tolerance and disease resistance. Zorro Zoysia’s ability to grow in shady places that other warm season grasses struggle make it a good choice for lawns that have had trouble supporting other varieties. Zorro will thrive in full sun or partial shade and only requires 3–4 hours of sunlight to thrive.

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: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Good
  • Drought Tolerance: Very Good
Zeon Zoysia

One of the finest textured zoysias, Zeon® Zoysia is also very easy to maintain—a feature that homeowners love. Popular for application on golf courses, Zeon’s features also bode well for home lawn application as well; it is aesthetically beautiful, shade tolerant and requires very little maintenance. Zeon is a good pick for homeowners in the Carolinas as it thrives in the heat of the lower South and cooler temperatures of the lower portion in the transition zone.

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
El Toro Zoysia

El Toro is a drought tolerant, highly durable grass that boasts a light green color. El Toro does best in the warmest parts of the Carolinas—in fact, is it the #1 choice for homeowners in Hawaii due to the state’s tropical climate. This grass thrives in full sun and has a slower growing rate, making it a great choice for homeowners looking to mow less. El Toro withstands heavy foot traffic.

El Toro Zoysia Characteristics:

  • Ideal Use: Golf, commercial landscapes and home lawns
  • Mow Height: 1.5–2.5 inches
  • Blade Width: Medium
  • Wear Tolerance: Good
  • Injury Recovery: Good
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Good
Emerald Zoysia

Widely available in North Carolina, this thick, lush grass is friendly to the extreme heat of the Carolinas. Features of Emerald Zoysia include weed resistance, ability to withstand partial to full sun and a fine texture. Despite it’s fine-bladed look, Emerald creates a dense canopy with very good wear tolerance and weed control. As a finer-bladed zoysia, Emerald is also very shade tolerant and requires 4–5 hours of sunlight.

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

If you are a North or South Carolina homeowner who really loves the look of zoysiagrass in your home lawn, the best thing you can do is learn about the different varieties available so that you can pick the right zoysia cultivar for your needs and environment. This will help you make the most informed decision so that your choice will flourish and thrive in your lawn. For more information on zoysiagrass, read All About Zoysia Sod. Be sure to also fertilize your new lawn with the best fertilizer for zoysiagrass, the LawnifiTM New Lawn Starter Box.

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