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Zoysia vs. Bermuda Grass

Previous Turf Wars saw Zoysia tie with St. Augustine and Bermuda defeating St. Augustine. Up next is Zoysia vs. Bermuda, assessing sod types for residential lawns based on maintenance, climate fit, appearance and cost. This article outlines zoysia and bermuda’s differences, considering their various strains, like EMPIRE® Zoysia and Celebration® Bermudagrass.

While each has its strengths, this comparison is general. Despite the varied breeding goals and performance of each cultivar, zoysia edges out with a score of 8/10 compared to bermuda’s 7/10 in our series, making zoysia the turf war winner.

Zoysia Versus Bermuda Grass Comparison Table

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Color

Zoysia and bermuda grass cultivars offer a range of unique colors, from deep blue-green to lighter shades, with the best choice depending on personal preference. Visual comparisons of common types illustrate these color variations.

Color Details

Zoysia and bermuda cultivars are bred for unique colors, resulting in a variety of shades. For instance, Celebration Bermudagrass sports a deep blue-green, while Latitude 36 Bermudagrass is darker green. In contrast, EMPIRE Zoysia is dark green, and Palisades Zoysia is lighter.

The best color depends on personal preference, making the color comparison between sod types a tie. Visual examples of common bermuda and zoysia types are provided below.

Zoysia Colors:

  • EMPIRE Zoysia: Dark Green
  • Innovation Zoysia: Dark Green
  • Geo Zoysia: Deep Green
  • Zeon Zoysia: Deep Green
  • Zorro Zoysia: Deep Green
  • El Toro Zoysia: Dark Green
  • Palisades Zoysia: Light Green
  • Meyer Zoysia: Emerald Green

Bermuda Colors:

  • Celebration Bermudagrass:  Deep Blue-Green
  • Latitude 36 Bermudagrass: Dark Green
  • NorthBridge Bermudagrass: Bright Green
  • Tifway 419 Bermudagrass: Blue-Green
  • Discovery Bermudagrass: Dark Blue-Green

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Blade Width & Texture

Zoysia and bermuda grasses differ in blade width and texture, with Zoysia ranging from 2 to 7 mm and some varieties adapted for shade, while bermuda features finer blades around 1.5-1.7 mm, preferred for its golf course-like appearance. Blade choice is often subjective.

Blade Width & Texture Details

Zoysia Grass Blade Width and Texture

Zoysias and bermudas differ notably in blade width, often distinguishing them. While many zoysias have broader blades, varieties like Innovation and Geo Zoysia feature finer blades for better shade tolerance. Zoysia blades usually span 5–7 mm, but those with a Matrella background, a fine-bladed zoysia breed, can be as narrow as 2 mm.

Bermuda Grass Blade Width and Texture

Bermuda grass, known for its use in sports fields and golf courses, is gaining popularity in residential lawns and parks due to its soft, fine texture. Bermuda blades are typically 1.5–1.7 mm wide. Homeowners often choose bermuda for its golf course-like appearance. The preference for blade width and texture is subjective, making it a tie.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Shade Tolerance

St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant grass, followed by finer-bladed zoysia varieties like Innovation and Geo, while bermuda is less shade-tolerant, with Celebration being the best option among bermuda types.

Shade Tolerance Details

Zoysia Grass Shade Tolerance

St. Augustine leads in shade tolerance, closely followed by zoysia, particularly the finer-bladed types like Innovation and Geo. Although wide-bladed zoysias like EMPIRE are shade-tolerant, they’re slightly less so than their finer-bladed counterparts.

Bermuda Grass Shade Tolerance

Bermuda is not a very shade tolerant lawn in comparison to St. Augustine or even zoysia. However, the most shade tolerant bermuda sod available is Celebration. 

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Mowing Heights and Growth Habits

Bermuda grass is mowed at 0.5-1.5 inches and is favored for sports fields due to its aggressive growth, while zoysia is mowed at 0.5-2 inches, preferred for golf courses due to its lower water and pest needs. Both grasses suppress weeds with rhizomes and stolons and have cultivars adapted for cold climates.

Growth Details

Mowing heights vary among bermuda and zoysia cultivars and change with the seasons. Generally, bermuda is maintained at 0.5–1.5 inches, wider-bladed zoysias at 1–2 inches, and finer-bladed zoysias at 0.5–1.5 inches. These heights influence mowing frequency, which also depends on growth rates.

Both bermuda and zoysia spread using rhizomes and stolons, aiding in weed suppression. Bermuda’s aggressive growth can overtake other grasses and surfaces, making it a choice for sports fields due to its durability and drought resistance.

Zoysia, used in golf course fairways for texture, demands less water and has fewer pest issues. Some zoysias and bermudas, like Latitude 36, are bred for cold tolerance, extending their viability to transition zones. Bermuda often requires more maintenance to manage its invasive growth.

Because bermudas require a little more maintenance with mowing and edging, zoysia wins the battle for mowing heights and growth habits.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Wear Tolerance

Bermuda grasses are favored on golf courses and sports fields for their superior wear tolerance and rapid injury recovery, outperforming zoysia grasses, including the highly durable EMPIRE variety.

Wear Tolerance Details

Bermuda Grass Wear Tolerance

Bermuda grasses typically rank higher in wear tolerance and injury recovery than zoysia grass.

Zoysia Grass Wear Tolerance

Zoysias have good wear tolerance and recovery, especially the EMPIRE variety, but bermudas are favored on golf courses and sports fields due to their superior durability and ability to handle heavy foot traffic and recover quickly.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Drought Tolerance & Resistance

Bermuda generally outperforms zoysia in both aspects, making it suitable for hot, dry climates, like Celebration Bermudagrass, which thrives due to its Australian origins.

Drought Details

Drought Tolerance vs. Drought Resistance

Drought tolerance is surviving drought, while drought resistance is maintaining appearance during drought until water is essential. Both bermuda and zoysia need about one inch of water weekly, but zoysia has high drought tolerance and moderate resistance.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Soil Preferences & Salt Tolerance

Both Zoysia and Bermuda adapt to various soils, with Zoysia preferring sandy or loamy types and Bermuda excelling in coastal or salty areas due to its higher salt tolerance.

Soil Preference Details

Soil Preferences & Salt Tolerance

Both zoysia and bermuda adapt to various soils, with zoysia favoring sandy or loamy types and managing less ideally in clay. Bermuda, having higher salt tolerance, is common in coastal or salty areas, whereas zoysia, with moderate salt tolerance, also performs well in coastal landscapes.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Fertility & pH

Both bermuda and zoysia grasses require essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus and thrive in specific pH ranges, with zoysia preferring a pH of 5.8–7.0 and bermuda adapting well to a pH of 6.5–8.0, both supported by tailored Lawnifi® fertilizer programs.

Fertility & pH Details

Zoysia Grass Fertility and pH

Regardless of the turfgrass variety chosen, all require nutrition beyond water and sunlight. Bermuda and zoysia need essential macro and micronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese and sulfur to thrive.

Zoysias tend to perform best in soils with a pH between 5.8–7.0.

Bermuda Grass Fertility and pH

Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses adapt to various soils, best thriving in pH ranges of 6.5–8.0. The Lawnifi® fertilizer program suits both zoysia and bermuda, catering to their nutritional needs. It offers options like the New Lawn Starter Box for new sod, Lawnifi Foundation for a traditional approach and a 9 Bottle Annual Program for year-round care.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Pests

Zoysia and Bermuda grasses are vulnerable to pests such as chinch bugs, billbugs, and mites, with certain varieties like EMPIRE Zoysia and Innovation Zoysia offering resistance to specific pests, and preventative treatment with insecticides like Bifen XTS is recommended for both.

Pest Details

Zoysia and bermuda are susceptible to various pests; zoysia often faces chinch bugs and billbugs, with EMPIRE Zoysia being chinch bug-resistant, leading some to switch from St. Augustine to EMPIRE.

Innovation Zoysia resists bluegrass billbugs. Bermuda contends with pests like mites, billbugs, grub worms, sod webworms, and fall armyworms. Preventative treatment with systemic insecticides like Bifen XTS is advisable for both grass types. Ensure careful label reading before use.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda: Diseases

Both zoysia and bermuda grasses are prone to various diseases, with zoysia commonly affected by brown spot, rust, and leaf spot, and bermuda by dollar spot, spring dead spot, and others, with treatments like Heritage G available following specific application guidelines.

Disease Details

Both zoysia and bermuda, like all sod types, are susceptible to diseases and fungus. Knowing their common diseases aids in prevention and treatment. Zoysias often face brown spot, rust and leaf spot, while Bermuda is more vulnerable to dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brown patch and pythium.

Recommended treatments, such as Heritage G, come with specific application instructions for these diseases; ensure thorough label reading before application.

Is Zoysia Grass Better Than Bermuda Grass? – Answered

Although zoysia is stronger than bermuda in certain characteristics, bermuda also has stronger traits than zoysia in some areas. As previously stated, this blog discusses zoysia and bermuda comparisons from a generic perspective.

Each cultivar of zoysia and bermuda performs differently as they were bred at different times with varying goals in mind. In our third edition of our Turf Wars series, bermuda scores an overall 7/10 including the ties, zoysia finishes with a score of 8/10, and zoysia wins the war between turfs.

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