Zoysiagrass is a warm season, low maintenance turf grass. It tolerates heat, drought, and salt spray. The low-growing, sod-forming plants spread by stolons and rhizomes. While it prefers full sun, zoysiagrass will tolerate some shade.
Zoysiagrasses green up early in the spring but are brown during winter dormancy. They produce excessive thatch that requires regular dethatching and are susceptible to nematodes.
Zoysiagrass can be a good choice for golf courses, park areas, and athletic fields from Florida to Connecticut, along the Gulf Coast to Texas, and in California and Hawaii. While zoysiagrasses stand up well to traffic, they are slow to repair, and so are not ideal for very heavy wear areas such as football or soccer fields.
Species and Varieties of Zoysia
Three species of zoysia and numerous varieties grow in the U.S.
Zoysia matrella is deep green with a fine leaf texture. It grows best in tropical and subtropical climates.
Zoysia tenuifolia is a fine-leaved dwarf plant used as ground cover. This extremely slow-growing species is the least cold tolerant of the three zoysiagrass species.
Zoysia japonica is a coarser textured, more cold hearty and drought tolerant species. This is the only zoysia species that can be established from seed.
Emerald zoysiagrass is a cross between Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia that establishes itself and is more adaptable.
El Toro is a cultivar selected for its faster growth, better cool weather color, and less thatch accumulation.
Meyer is an improved cultivar of Zoysia japonica, with dark green color and medium texture.
Belaire is very tolerant of cold, but susceptible to brown patch disease.
Watering Zoysia Grass
In the absence of rainfall, zoysiagrass needs light watering every day for the first two weeks after it is put in. After that, infrequent and thorough (at least ¾ inch) watering will encourage a strong root system. Water only when—and as soon as–leaf blades show signs of slight wilting. Because it has a deep root system, zoysiagrass can pull moisture from greater soil depths, making it very drought tolerant.
Mowing Zoysia Grass
Mow zoysiagrass fairly low—1/2 to 1 inch high, preferably with a reel mower. Mow frequently to keep the height below 2 inches in order to avoid a thick layer of thatch. Because of its prickly texture it can be difficult to mow evenly, especially when the blades are long. And, because of its “thatchiness,” zoysiagrass requires periodic vertical mowing to remove thatch.
Fertilizing Zoysia Grass
Fertilize with two to four pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during active growth from April to October. For better color in cool weather fertilize in the fall as well.
Want to learn more about Zoysia grass?
Cooperative Extension services are excellent sources of information about the best turf grasses to grow in different areas of the country. Check out this link to find your local extension service office.
Here’s what Texas, Alabama, and Hawaii extension offices have to say about zoysiagrass:
Zoysia from Texas Cooperative Extension
Zoysiagrass Lawns from Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Zoysiagrass from University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service
Marie Czep says
I have Zoysia grass. Suddenly last summer, it developed a fairy ring. Have you heard of this? The is getting bigger and bigger.