When it comes to selecting a type of grass for your home lawn, it is normal for a hundred different things to be going through your mind: which type of grass looks the prettiest, which type of grass works the best in shade, if you need a warm season or cool season grass for the climate you live in or most commonly, which grass requires the least amount of maintenance possible? It is important to know how to choose the right type of sod so that you can select a grass that has the appropriate characteristics you are looking for.
With zoysia being one of the most popular types of turfgrass available, a lot of homeowners are excited to hear there are different cultivars of zoysia grass to choose from. Certain types of zoysia have distinct characteristics that perform differently in various environments. For example, if you really like zoysia grass but live in an area that may endure periods of drought, EMPIRE Zoysia is a great pick. If you have a lawn with a lot of shady areas, Innovation Zoysia may be an ideal choice. Read on to learn about popular types of zoysia grass and find out which characteristics help them stand out.
EMPIRE® Zoysia is a Brazilian Zoysia japonica developed for a wide spectrum of applications including many home lawns throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States. EMPIRE has an improved disease resistance compared to El Toro, which is why it does so well in the southern and tropical areas of the United States. 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 also grows in a wide variety of soil and climate conditions, which make it a great choice for home lawns in many locations.
EMPIRE performs well in sandy and clay type soils throughout the southern U.S. and has tough runners, rhizomes and deep roots that provide excellent sod strength, wearability and improved drought tolerance. EMPIRE exhibits moderate shade tolerance, which is typical of most zoysias, and is chinch bug resistant. If you’ve had a chinch bug problem in the past, then this grass may be the best choice for you. It is the first zoysia to demonstrate improved tolerance to brown patch when compared to Meyer Zoysia in side-by-side plantings. Additionally, EMPIRE is highly tolerant of most herbicides, making it easier to control weeds. EMPIRE Zoysia is a patented and trademarked product of Sod Solutions, Inc. Be sure to take a look at some of the research that has been conducted on EMPIRE over the years: Fertilization, Deficit Irrigation and Nutrient Leaching Study, Drought Tolerance & Drought Resistance, Mowing Height and Frequency Among Turf Varieties.
EMPIRE Zoysia Characteristics
Ideal Use: Home lawns with 6–8 hours of sunlight, golf, parks and commercial landscapes
InnovationTM Zoysia is a newer, more versatile zoysia grass developed by researchers at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University. Innovation is very cold tolerant allowing it to grow up into the transition zone. Innovation also performs better in the transition zone than Geo Zoysia, which we talk about farther down in this article. This zoysia grass 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 medium-to-fine texture and a soft feel.
Innovation was developed to improve upon the industry standard, Meyer, which was released in 1952 and is widely used for its excellent cold hardiness in the transition zone. Looking to improve on this standard, researchers crossed a Meyer-type Zoysia japonica with a Zoysia matrella, a variety which is finer-bladed and possesses a more dense canopy. Innovation features a good resistance to cold, disease and insects, while offering the finer leaf blades in demand today and a better overall turfgrass quality. Innovation demonstrates a faster establishment grow-in and damage recovery rate than Meyer. It also has an extended fall color and earlier spring green-up while offering a level of shade tolerance found in the finer bladed varieties. Innovation Zoysia is a patented and trademarked product of Sod Solutions, Inc. Be sure to check out some of the research and case studies conducted by Kansas State and Texas A&M for more information: Release of KSUZ 0802 Zoysiagrass and Cultivar Registration of ‘KSUZ 0802’ Zoysiagrass.
Innovation Zoysia Characteristics:
Ideal Use: Golf, parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
Geo® Zoysia is a fine-bladed type of zoysia grass with a deep green color that brings high curb appeal to the homeowner. Geo Zoysia was bred from a cross between Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia. Geo Zoysia is easily one of the most beautiful turfgrasses you will find in a landscape. Its excellent shade tolerance is comparable to most other zoysias and is extremely wear tolerant, making this a top choice for residential lawns. It also thrives in a variety of soil and climate conditions and features a reduced thatch build-up compared to other extremely fine-textured zoysia grasses.
Geo Zoysia requires a little more maintenance than that of other zoysias, but it will make your lawn the best looking in the neighborhood. Geo Zoysia is a patented and trademarked product of Sod Solutions, Inc.
Meyer Zoysia is a medium-bladed zoysia grass that has remained successful for over 60 years throughout the southern United States. Meyer is slow growing, dark green and very dense. It also demonstrates exceptional cold tolerance into the transition zone. Meyer Zoysia develops a very dense turf, demonstrates good cold tolerance and grows well in partial shade. Meyer Zoysia is best adapted to the transition zone where summers are too hot and humid for cool season grasses and winters too cold for bermuda grass. When compared to other zoysia grasses such as Innovation Zoysia, Meyer is more susceptible to disease and to the bluegrass billbug. Meyer is also not as cold tolerant as Innovation Zoysia. Meyer is also much slower to recover when damaged compared to Innovation or other coarse-textured Zoysia japonicas. Meyer Zoysia is no longer licensed and does not have strict growing regulations.
Meyer Zoysia Characteristics:
Ideal Use: Parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
Palisades Zoysia is a medium-to-coarse textured zoysia grass known for its drought tolerance. It is a highly dense turf that is frequently used on home lawns and its thicker blade width makes it a little easier to maintain. Its low maintenance requirements make it a highly sought after grass for homeowners, but it is not as shade tolerant as some of the finer-bladed zoysias. Palisades is, however, more heat tolerant, salt tolerant and cold-hardy than some of the other zoysias. It also has a good fall color retention. Because of its quick establishment rate and recuperative ability, it is very wear tolerant and can be used in even some of the more trafficked home lawns. Palisades Zoysia is a certified turfgrass variety that was developed by the Turf Lab at Texas A&M University.
Palisades Zoysia Characteristics:
Ideal Use: Home lawns, parks, golf, commercial and residential landscapes
Zeon® Zoysia is an improved zoysia grass cultivar with a medium green color that thrives in the heat of the lower South and cooler temperatures of the lower portion of the transition zone. It was developed to provide the landscape industry with a superior fine-bladed zoysia with increased shade tolerance, low incidence of thatch production and an accelerated spread rate. It has a higher resistance for insects and disease compared to other warm season grasses. Zeon has extremely low maintenance and fertility requirements. Its dense growth habits make it easy for Zeon to outcompete weeds, but Zeon is a much finer zoysia grass if you are looking for something really fine-textured. It can also be mowed using a standard rotary type machine. Zeon Zoysia is a patented product of The Turfgrass Group, Inc.
Zeon Zoysia Characteristics
Ideal Use: Golf, parks, commercial landscapes and home lawns
Zorro Zoysia is a very fine-bladed zoysia with a dark green color that is suitable residential lawns. Zorro has superior shade tolerance to most other warm season grasses, allowing it to grow in areas other grasses can’t.
Zorro has excellent fall color retention and is an ideal choice for the southern parts of the United States. The leaf texture is considered to be very fine-bladed and soft to feel. Zorro has hunting billbug, fall armyworm and brown patch resistance. It thrives in full sun or partial shade and only requires 3–4 hours of sunlight to thrive. This variety of zoysia grass can be mowed with a reel mower at 1⁄4 inch or with a rotary at 3 inches. Zorro also has one of the lowest water requirements of the zoysias. Zorro Zoysia is a patented product of King Ranch Turfgrass.
Zorro Zoysia Characteristics:
Ideal Use: Home lawns, commercial landscapes and parks
El Toro is a lighter green zoysia grass with a medium blade that forms a dense canopy and can handle a lot of traffic. This grass has a slower vertical growing rate, making it great for homeowners looking for less mowing requirements. Although it has a slower growth rate, it tolerates heat as well as other zoysias once it is established. El Toro will withstand heavy foot traffic and grows rapidly in hot temperatures. El Toro is resistant to most diseases, will grow in most soil types, requires less water and fewer mowings than other grasses. El Toro also has a really good shade tolerance and can tolerate periods of drought.
El Toro Zoysia Characteristics:
Ideal Use: Golf, commercial landscapes and home lawns
If you are a homeowner who really loves the look of zoysia grass 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 zoysia grass, read All About Zoysia Sod. Be sure to also fertilize your new lawn with the best fertilizer for zoysia grass, the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box.