Zoysiagrass Guide: Know Your Grass Types

Zoysiagrass Guide: Know Your Grass Types

Sod University

When it comes to choosing the right grass and installing sod, it is important to also take into consideration where you live and what sort of climate you will be growing the grass in. Knowing your grass types is one of the best things you can do to build a knowledge-base around the different types of grasses out there and make the best decision for your lawn. This week, Sod University takes the time to discuss everything you need to know about zoysiagrasses.

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: Zoysia Japonica, Zoysia Matrella and Zoysia Tenuifolia. Each of these three varieties 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

Zoysiagrass 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.

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 zoysiagrass 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, zoysiagrass 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 Turf® Zoysia, in a root study conducted in 2010 to measure root length.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • 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 centipedegrass only have stolons that grow above the ground, meaning zoysiagrass 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.

Homeowners tend to have more success installing zoysia as sod, plugs or sprigs. Some zoysiagrass can be installed as seed, however, creating a zoysiagrass 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

Maintenance practices for a mature, established zoysiagrass lawn differs by season. In general, zoysia should be mowed at a height between .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 one 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 two to three 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 zoysiagrass lawn is also important so that your lawn gets the proper nutrients it needed. Sod Solutions recommends Lawnifi’s™Liquid Fertilizer Program with seasonal boxes for spring, summer and fall. You can learn more about Lawnifi at lawnifi.com.

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 Zoysia Varieties

There are an abundance of zoysiagrass varieties on the market and Sod Solutions offers some of the most durable, best quality zoysiagrasses as sod or grass plugs including EMPIRE Turf® Zoysia (Z. Japonica),  Geo™Zoysia (Z. Japonica x Z. Tenuifolia) and Innovation™Zoysiagrass (Z. Japonica x Z. Matrella). Each grass offers different zoysiagrass characteristics. Be sure to check out their individual pages to get a better idea on which variety will be best for your lawn. 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 Know Your Grass Types 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.

Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out our other Sod University tips here.

The post Zoysiagrass Guide: Know Your Grass Types appeared first on Sod Solutions.

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Author: valerie

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