Written by 2:50 pm Herbicides, Lawn Tips

How to kill zoysia grass

Zoysia’s hardiness and low-maintenance requirements make it popular for lawns. Unfortunately, these traits make it problematic when it grows where it doesn’t belong. But when it is growing where you don't want it, you need to know how to kill zoysia grass.

With a few simple steps, you can rid your non-zoysia lawn from an invading zoysia grass.

Where Stray Zoysia Comes From

It is very common for zoysia to encroach onto your lawn from an adjoining lot. This is especially prevalent where your lawn is weak or damaged. 

Encroachment also comes during times of drought. Extensive rhizomes let zoysia grass collect water while other grasses struggle. These rhizomes also help zoysia grass recover quickly after it’s been damaged.

Zoysia grass can also be introduced by stray seeds falling into bare spots. Zoysia grass is also used in seed blends marketed to fill bare spots. Regardless of the source, zoysia grass is difficult and frustrating to remove.


Killing Zoysia Grass

Step 1: Check lawn health

The first step to kill zoysia grass is to make sure your lawn is as healthy as possible. Late summer is ideal because your lawn has been growing for months. Late summers can be dry, so water your lawn leading up to this. Most grass types need between 1-2” of water per week.

Step 2: Decide on Chemical or Non-Chemical Removal

Next, decide the best avenue to fit your needs, non-chemical or chemical. Non-chemical avenues include digging and removing zoysia grass or killing it with heat.

Non-Chemical: Digging

When digging out zoysia grass, use a shovel or a sod cutter. It is important to not just cut out the affected areas but also a buffer around the area. This practice will ensure any leading rhizomes will be removed too. Remove several inches of soil along with the grass and rhizomes.

Non-Chemical: Killing with Heat

Killing grass with heat and darkness is another way to remove it without using chemicals. Use clear plastic, weighted down on the corners, over the affected area. To kill grass with darkness, cover the area with a solid colored tarp or plastic. During the heat of summers, zoysia grass will die off within 4-6 weeks.

Going with Chemical Removal

Non-chemical approaches are safe and effective, but they are slow. If pressed for time, or just inpatient, consider using a grass weed killer. Eraser A/P is a commonly recommended grass killer for zoysia grass. It won’t only kill zoysia but many other weeds, woody brushes, and shrubs.

Apply Eraser A/P over the affected area in addition to a 2 feet buffer. Repeat this step after a couple of weeks if new zoysia grass regrows.

Two other grass killers for zoysia grass are BASF Pylex Herbicide and Tenacity Herbicide. Although not cheap, these two are very effective at killing only zoysia grass. Read the label before applying to make sure the rest of your lawn is tolerant to these two herbicides.

Keeping Zoysia Grass Out of Your Lawn

After the zoysia grass is killed, prep the area for new grass.

  1. Use a sturdy rake to remove all dead grass and thatch.

  2. Then use a rake, tiller or aerator to break up any hardpan.

  3. Then level in preparation for planting.

However, before planting let the area sit for a couple of weeks and observe.

  1. Handpull any new sprigs of zoysia grass as it pops up in this time.

  2. After this observation time, you’re ready to replant with your new grass.

  3. Use seed, plugs or sod to reestablish the same grass type as the rest of your lawn.

Once your lawn has been freed of zoysia grass, make sure it doesn’t come back by properly watering and fertilizing your lawn. A healthy lawn is the best defense against weeds and other invasive grasses. 

If the cause of zoysia grass is a neighbors yard, consider installing a buffer. Install a plastic or metal buffer between lawns. Buffers need to be placed 6” deep and extend 3” above ground.



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