When it comes to choosing the right grass and installing sod, it’s important to also take into consideration where you live and what sort of climate you’ll be growing the grass in. It’s good to familiarize yourself with the different grass types so that you can know how to choose the right type of sod for installation. Sod University has also published individual articles on different grass varieties such as St. Augustine, bermuda grass and centipede. This week, Sod University takes the time to discuss everything you need to know about zoysia grasses.
- The History of Zoysia
- Facts About Zoysia
- Zoysia Characteristics & Traits
- Advantages and Disadvantages of a Zoysia Grass Lawn
- Zoysia Establishment
- General Maintenance for Zoysia
- Sod Solutions Zoysia Varieties
The History of Zoysia
Zoysia is a warm season variety native to southeastern and eastern areas of continental Asia such as Japan, Korea and China. There are a genus of eight species named after Austrian botanist Karl von Zois, and three of the different species are common in the United States. These three types of zoysia grasses are: Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella and Zoysia tenuifolia. Each of these three zoysia grass types differ by cold tolerance, texture and aggressiveness. Zoysia made its first appearance in America when botanist C.V. Piper brought it over from Manila. However, Zoysia japonica specifically was introduced to the United States in 1895 when it was brought in from the Manchurian Province of China.
Pictured above from left to right: Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella and Zoysia tenuifolia.
Facts About Zoysia
Zoysia grass can be found throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States as it performs well in the heat and endures cooler weather. As a warm season grass variety, it tolerates shade in southern areas of the United States.
This perennial turfgrass produces both stolons and rhizomes that grow horizontally above and below the ground, helping it survive through periods of drought, heat and other environmental stressors. Zoysia usually goes dormant fairly quickly once the first freeze of the year occurs, however, it is also one of the first to turn green once spring comes around.
Zoysia Characteristics & Traits
Zoysia has a thick, soft carpet that chokes out weeds and produces stolons that creep along the surface of the soil and expand horizontally. It has a stronger, medium-thick grass blade with a soft feel and adapts to a wide variety of soil conditions including sandy soils, clay soils and loamy soils with alkaline and acidic soil pH ratings. As previously mentioned, zoysia does well in drought conditions. It may turn a straw-like brown when enduring drought, but this doesn’t mean it’s dead—in most cases, once irrigation returns, it will turn green again.
Pictured above: A zoysia grass stolon and roots from NC State Extension.
Zoysia has the capacity to establish a deep root system, which is why it is able to endure environmental stressors. Its deep roots allow it to absorb moisture from deeper soil locations in comparison to other varieties of grasses. Lastly, zoysia grass can be found along the coasts of the United States as it is very salt tolerant.
Pictured above: Images demonstrating zoysia roots, specifically roots of EMPIRE® Zoysia, in a root study conducted in 2010 to measure root length.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Zoysia Lawn
- Very drought tolerant: due to its deep root system, zoysia can survive prolonged periods of drought.
- Reduces mowing: due to its rhizomes and stolons, zoysia’s lateral growth means it grows tall very slowly—this means less mowing.
- Thrives in cold and heat: zoysia loves the heat and some cultivars can survive below zero temperatures.
- Thrives in sun or shade: zoysia thrives in the sun and some cultivars survive in the shade with at least three to four hours of sunlight.
- Exhibits a finer texture and a soft feel,
- Chokes out crabgrass and weeds all summer long: due to its deep roots and thick carpet, zoysia chokes out weeds and keeps them from germinating in the first place. This also reduces money spent on herbicides.
- Never needs replacement: zoysia heals itself. With the use of lateral growth, zoysia’s rhizomes and stolons help to withstand heavy traffic and will fill in if damaged. In comparison, St. Augustine and centipede grass only have stolons that grow above the ground, meaning zoysia grass has a greater ability to recover from damage.
- Good for slopes, high traffic areas and bare spots,
- Limits erosion,
- Grows in a variety of soil types,
- Does well in winter dormancy: zoysia will go dormant after the first frost and turn brown until soil temperatures reach 50 degrees again. Zoysia’s dormancy helps it withstand winter cold and come back full and green in the spring.
- Temperamental color: your lawn can go from brown to green with the first sign of cooler weather,
- Slow growing: zoysia has a slower growth rate in comparison to other grasses, making it slow to recover from high traffic stress in comparison to other grasses,
- Zoysia Patch or Rhizoctonia Large Patch: zoysia is prone to zoysia patch disease,
- Thatch: zoysia is also prone to thatch problems.
When it comes to installation and establishment, zoysia does not greatly differ from other turfgrass varieties. For a full list of installation instructions, visit our How to Properly Install Sod page. Be sure to also check out the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box if you are currently installing zoysia. This fertilizer will give your zoysia grass lawn the nutrients it needs during establishment.
New Lawn Starter BoxProduct on sale
Homeowners tend to have more success installing zoysia as sod, plugs or sprigs. Some zoysia grass can be installed as seed, however, creating a zoysia grass lawn from seed has always been difficult because only a small percentage of the seed will successfully germinate and it is extremely sensitive to light. Zoysia seed requires a great amount of watering until the lawn is completely established, and this takes up a lot of water. Seeded varieties produce medium to coarse-textured turf. Its growth is usually uneven and occasionally forms mounds.
General Maintenance for Zoysia
Zoysia Mowing and Watering
Maintenance practices for a mature, established zoysia grass lawn differs by season. In general, zoysia should be mowed at a height between 0.5–2 inches. It is recommended that you mow zoysia higher in areas where there is shade. The more you mow, the less of a chance thatch occurs. If thatch occurs, it may prevent your grass from absorbing the water and nutrients needed. Zoysia only needs about 1 inch of water weekly.
Frequencies and watering times will alter each season. Zoysia will turn a straw-brown when in drought, but it will regain its lush look once you begin watering again or when rainfall occurs. Watering the grass 2–3 times a week based on temperatures and soil conditions will help it revive. If you have a sandier soil and live in an area with hot temperatures, more irrigation may be needed. It is also good to water your zoysia occasionally during the winter months if you live in a warmer climate. Fertilizing your established zoysia grass lawn is also important so that your lawn gets the proper nutrients it needed. Sod Solutions recommends Lawnifi’s Fertilizer Program with seasonal boxes for spring, summer and fall or Lawnifi Foundation, a granular fertilizer..
Fertilizing your established zoysia grass lawn is also important so that your lawn gets the proper nutrients it needed. Sod Solutions recommends Lawnifi’s Fertilizer Program with seasonal boxes for spring, summer and fall. You can learn more about Lawnifi in our Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? article.
Complete Program 9 Bottle Fertilizer Annual SubscriptionProduct on sale/ year
Zoysia Insect and Disease Control
Zoysia is prone to white grubs, so monitoring the soil under the turf during summer and fall is the best way to effectively prevent a grub problem. Imidacloprid .5G offers preventive control of white grubs while Scotts GrubEx is a great curative product. Learn more about insect management in your zoysia lawn here. When it comes to disease, zoysia is prone to brown patch, rust and leaf spot diseases. Heritage G offers effective treatment and prevention for these diseases.
Zoysia Weed Control
The broadleaf weeds that are the most common in zoysia are dandelion, clover and annual bluegrass (Poa annua). SpeedZone Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf and SpeedZone Southern Herbicide offer the best control of these weeds. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide that will prevent weeds from showing up include Crabgrass Control Plus 0-0-7 with 0.37% Prodiamine, Prodiamine and Dimension 2EW. Pre-Emergents should be applied in the spring and fall as temperatures start to change. A post-emergent, such as SpeedZone, controls weeds after they have surfaced from the soil. Learn more about weed control in your zoysia lawn here.
SpeedZone Southern Herbicide$99.95
SpeedZone Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf$108.95
Prodiamine 65 WDG$87.95
Dimension 2EW$149.95 – $639.95
Crabgrass Control Plus 0-0-7 with 0.37% Prodiamine Herbicide$52.95
For more information on maintenance guidelines or to read more about seasonal maintenance tips, take a look at our Zoysia Homeowner Maintenance Guide. Sod Solutions also has specific Homeowner Maintenance Guides for EMPIRE® Zoysia, Geo® Zoysia and Innovation™ Zoysiagrass.
Sod Solutions Zoysia Varieties
There are an abundance of zoysia grass varieties on the market and Sod Solutions offers some of the most durable, best quality zoysia grasses as sod or grass plugs including EMPIRE Zoysia (Z. Japonica), Geo Zoysia (Z. Japonica x Z. Tenuifolia) and Innovation Zoysiagrass (Z. Japonica x Z. Matrella). Each grass offers different zoysia grass characteristics. Be sure to check out their individual pages to get a better idea on which variety will be best for your lawn or read our other Sod University blog on Popular Zoysia Varieties. Sod Solutions also offers Meyer Zoysia, Palisades Zoysia, Zeon Zoysia and Zorro Zoysia. Shop our zoysia sod varieties here or our zoysia plug varieties here.
If you are interested in learning more about different types of grasses other than zoysia, be sure to check out our How to Choose the Right Type of Sod article. As mentioned above, zoysia is widely known for its lateral growth due to rigorous rhizome and stolon production. To learn more about rhizomes and stolons, we recommend taking a look at our What are Stolons and Rhizomes? blog. Lastly, zoysia performs well in a wide variety of soil types, making it a great choice for different locations throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States. To learn more about soil types, read Soil Management for Lawns.