How To Take Care of Zoysia Grass

Having a green beautiful front lawn has become more and more popular worldwide, turning itself into a status indicator - your house’s greeting card, if you may. But, according to an online survey commissioned by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, in 2017, around 40% of all Americans with a lawn hired professionals to help them out.


Now, even though there is no problem in helping that industry, the increasing DIY trend can really improve your homeowner skills and help you save a large amount of money - think about that Europe trip you’ve been promising yourself for the last couple of years!

But first, when facing your unseeded, dirt lawn there is a big decision to make - which type of grass should you go for? Even though there are a lot of variables you should take into account, today we’re here to talk about Zoysia grass - its strengths, characteristics and proper care.

Around 1895, American homeowners started falling in love with lawns importing Zoysia grass from Asia, its native continent. Since then, it has become one of the most popular choices for a fresh green lawn. Why is that, you ask? We’ll tell you!


What Has Made Zoysia Grass So Popular?



First of all, and probably its most popular strength - its resilience. Even though it is a warm-season grass, it has an amazing ability to endure cold, as well as shade, heat, drought, heavy foot traffic, and other challenges. Most notably, it fights winters like no other grass.


Low Effort, High Reward

A beautiful reward can be achieved with a small amount of effort. This grass can reach its healthier state with low human input. This, among other aspects, means you only need to plant it once - unlike cool-season fairways of bluegrass, ryegrass or bentgrass - as it can recover from wear and foot traffic on its own. It also means you can enjoy low fertilizer requirements!

Still, in the same subject, and in comparison with other types of grass, it needs less watering in the summer and, therefore, creating less mud (great water conservation) and it also needs less mowing, which is always great for the environment, as it emits less CO2.


Green and Dense - Every Lawn Owners’ Dream

On one side, it will take a bit longer than other grasses to establish itself, but when it does - oh boy! Not only do you achieve a beautiful green lawn, but it’s so dense that it keeps those nasty weeds from popping up. Not only that, but you also get a comfortable lawn for midday naps and a durable place for sports and entertainment. Lastly, every golfer out there knows how well a ball sits and rolls in Zoysia grass.

Regarding Zoysia grass’s color, it isn’t always green. First, in it’s growing season, you get a light to medium green. Then, when winter comes, rather than dying out, it turns brown, due to its dormancy state. Lastly, come spring, it is one of the first grasses to green up again.

Where Should It Be Used


Even though it is a fairly versatile grass, able to survive across America, be the southeast humid weather to the hot Midwest, it really excels in a specific environment - the grass transition zone. Too hot and humid for cold-season grasses, such as the Kentucky Bluegrass and too cold for warm-season ones, like the Bermuda grass, Zoysia’s heat and cold tolerance is a valuable asset in these places.


Zoysia grass is the main category, but inside of it, there are various subtypes with different characteristics. This is where it can get a little tricky, but that’s why we’re here to guide you through its different types and aid you in making the most thoughtful decision. Even though there are more options to choose from, these are the most common ones:

Zoysia Matrella

Also known as “Manila Grass”, it’s one of the most common found in lawns across the southern states of the USA, mainly because it grows well in shade and reaches a dense turf in sunny seasons.

Brought from the Philippines in 1911, it was in the ’40s that, in Alabama, it started getting quite popular, as it does well in tropical and subtropical climates. Like most Zoysia grasses, it starts green, turns brown with the cold fronts of winter and returns to its normal green when spring comes.

Regarding its leaves, they are more pointed and narrow than its brothers and can grow to three inches long. The big downside is that it can take a few years to get fully established, even though they are amazing in golf courses since they don’t need too much mowing and fertilizing and can take the traffic.

Zoysia Japonica

Also known as “Japanese Lawngrass”, it reached America around 11 years earlier than the latter one. It is, between all, the most cold-resistant - why you can see it as far north as Canada.

Even though most homeowners prefer to use sods or plugs (more high-quality turf), this Zoysia is the only one you can grow from seeds, as well as being the fastest one to reach its adult state and to spread throughout big areas. Regarding its leaves, expect a light green tone, with a hairy and coarse texture.

Emerald Zoysia

Similar to Manila Grass in many ways, this is a hybrid between the Zoysa Japonica and the Zoysa Tenuifolia. Created in the ’50s, it rapidly became one of the most popular turfgrass varieties, mainly due to its attractive look, with its fine leaf texture and dark green blades.

Now, nothing is perfect, and with a great look comes a low growth habit, less winter hardiness and bigger vulnerability to brown patches. Besides that, it is still the best choice for high-quality lawns.

Empire Zoysia

You can probably drive through a residential area and all the front lawns will be Empire Zoysia.

Not only does it offer a beautiful green color, but its thick roots and coarse texture allow it to tackle drought, heat and cold with impressive ease. Its nemesis are shadier spots, with a medium probability of suffering from brown patches.

How to Take Care

Even though Zoysia survives and grows without that much effort, there are a few tips you should follow, if you want to have that magazine-cover, freshly-cut, beautiful green lawn.


Overall Tips

  • 1 inch of rainfall or irrigation per week is the most efficient way of watering Zoysa, as it “trains” your grasses’ drought resistance.
  • Try to mow your lawn as often as you need (probably once a week), in order to maintain a 1 to ½ inches height.
  • Never cut more than one-third of its height, as you can shock the grass.
  • Due to its thickness, we recommend using a sharp reel mower, so you don’t tear, instead of cut, as it makes it more vulnerable to diseases. You can check out the best ones on the market, at the moment, right here.

Warmer Seasons

  • Spring is the best season for planting Zoysia after all the threats of frost are long-gone.
  • Due to its dense growth habit, you’ll probably start seeing thatch - a layer of thick organic material. In order to avoid that, aerate your lawn in early spring.
  • Let your grass grow a little higher than normal if you encounter rainfall scarcity or high temperatures.
  • In the night, walk through your lawn barefooted. If you see your footprints behind you, you aren’t watering it enough during the day.
  • Never use herbicides or other strong products when the temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Colder Seasons

  • Winter is when Zoysia becomes dormant and browner, so if you wish to maintain a green look, overseed your lawn with cool-season Ryegrass.
  • Set your mower height a little shorter, as it prevents scalping the grass.
  • Use these months to test your soil and plan your fertilization schedule for the warmer months - when mole crickets and grubs can become a problem.
  • Diseases can really spread during the fall months, so make sure you apply fungicides and other treatments.

Final Thoughts

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask a professional to help you with your lawn, but there is no better feeling than to wake up in the morning, enjoy those warm sun rays and look outside, to a beautiful Zoysia green lawn, knowing you’re the culprit behind that piece of art. Thanks for reading and we hope we helped you paint that image!

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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