Written by 1:01 pm Lawn Tips, Pillars

Zoysia Grass – Pros and Cons Plus Expert Tips for Growing a Healthy Zoysia Lawn

Homeowners choose zoysia for 3 main reasons:

  1. Drought Resistance
  2. Forms a dense turf
  3. Tolerates traffic well

Zoysia grass is a hearty and durable grass that features a beautiful light green color. It is a warm-season grass that thrives in regions with high heat and humidity. Zoysia grass is also drought-tolerant and accommodates moderate amounts of traffic.

It has the following advantages over other warm season grasses:

  1. Very low maintenance
  2. Stays green during times of drought

Zoysia's drought-tolerance is attributed to it's dense turf keeps its roots relatively cool. This helps the grass retain its moisture. Its aggressive, deep root system means it can still draw moisture from the soil when other species begin to fail.

Many experts refer to it as a transitional zone grass. Transitional zone grasses thrive in areas too warm for cool-season grasses and too cold for warm-season grasses. Imported from Asia in the late 1800s, it quickly turned into a preferred grass for homeowners.


Sun Tolerance👍 Prefers full sun
Heat Tolerance👍 Handles high temps
Cold Tolerance👍 Handles cool temps
Drought Tolerance👍 Good at tolerating drought
Traffic Tolerance👍 Handles moderate traffic
Growth Rate👎 Spreads slowly
Color in Winter👎 Browns in winter

Less Green Than Other Grasses

Although, it’s a dense turfgrass, Zoysia is not a real vibrant green color but stays a light or medium green during the growing season, turning brown during the dormant winter months. As a warm season grass Zoysia greens up in mid-to late spring when warm temperatures trigger its growth state, actively growing until late into autumn when temperatures begin to fall.

However, Zoysia will stay green longer than other warm season grasses such as the popular Bermudagrass or other varieties. Some homeowners choose a companion planting of ryegrass to achieve a four-season green turf.

Ideal Conditions for an Optimal Zoysia Lawn

Zoysia grass is a warm-season turf and thrives in temperatures above 75 degrees. Several days of sustained temperatures above 70 degrees will kick-off its growing season.

If you live in an area where the temperature does not suit St. Augustine, Centipede, or Bermuda grasses, Zoysia may be a better option. It can tolerate temperatures that are much lower than other warm-season grasses. It can withstand heat and moderate cold snaps. This makes it perfect for transitional zones.

Once temperatures dive below 55 degrees for a few days, Zoysia grass will brown and lose its green color. The grass is not dead; it is entering dormancy. Zoysia has a more pronounced discoloration than other warm-season grasses. Zoysia's winter appearance will disappoint homeowners desiring year-round green grass.

Zoysia lawns should receive anywhere between four and six hours of direct sunlight a day. Shady areas may not see rapid growth or spreading. However, Zoysia under shade will perform better than will Bermuda grass or Centipede.

A Zoysia lawn should receive between 1 and 1.25 inches of water every week, low relative to other grasses. If the grass does not receive enough water, it will begin to turn brown. The grass will quickly regain its color after receiving water.

Zoysia Grass Withstands Moderate Traffic

Another huge advantage with Zoysia is its ability to tolerate very high traffic which makes it a great choice for families who spend more time on lawn activities. Zoysia will stand up even to the daily use by highly active, outdoor children who can wear a lawn out very quickly. Zoysia lawns can quickly recover from traffic or stress if adequately watered. 

Zoysia Establishment & Growth

You can establish a zoysia lawn with seed or sod. Establishing a lawn with sod provides the fastest results but is more expensive. Establishing a lawn with zoysia seed is slower but is more cost effective.

Zoysia spreads by stolons that creep across your lawn. Stolons creep away from established grass and plant roots as they make their journey. Zoysia’s stolons grow at a very slow rate but are heartier than other varieties.

Slow growth and deep roots makes the grass hardy and resistant to drought and extreme temperatures. Zoysia is not a good choice if you need to cover a large area in a short amount of time.

Zoysia grass blades are notoriously tough and wiry. You'll have to sharpen lawnmower blades frequently when servicing a Zoysia lawn. If edges are not kept sharp, damage to the grass can occur.

How to Fertilize your Lawn

Zoysia lawns need three to four pounds of Nitrogen per growing season. Potassium enrichment also contributes to the grass’s heartiness and drought resistance. Always use a 15-0-15, 15-0-10, 15-0-5 fertilizer unless a soil test indicates otherwise.

Our experts recommend Hi-Yield Weed & Feed for Zoysia lawns.

Zoysia Grass Maintenance Schedule

January – April

Applying a pre-emergent herbicide to the lawn in late February or early March will give a Zoysia lawn protection against a host of weeds. After using the pre-emergent:

  • Reapply the same product in two months for maximum effectiveness.
  • If the lawn already has existing weeds, apply a post-emergent herbicide at his time.
  • If insect damage is visible, apply an insecticide. Infestations will worsen in the coming warm seasons.
  • Overseed bare or thin areas before the grass enters its growing season.


Early Spring is an excellent time to check the pH level of the soil. It thrives in soil with a pH level between 6 and 7. If you find that your lawn is outside of the preferred range, you can find tips to correct the problem here.

If you need to adjust the pH, apply the correcting nutrient with the first round of fertilizer.

  • May: Apply .5 to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer, along with any herbicides or pH balancing nutrients.
  • June-July: Apply .5 to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer, along with any post-emergent herbicides.
  • August: Apply .5 to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer.

Potassium is critical to prepare Zoysia grass for the coming winter. Potassium aids in the ability to fight off cold weather diseases and insect attacks.

September – December

Ensure that the Zoysia grass is continuing to receive adequate water amounts. While the grass is dormant in the winter months, it will need 1″ every 1.5 to 2 weeks.

Fertilization is not recommended in the winter months. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent any weeds from growing now. If the soil needs a pH correction, apply the appropriate products at this time.

Common Weeds


  • Crabgrass
  • Nutsedge
  • Old World Diamond Flower
  • Common spurge
  • Goosegrass

For help in identifying common weeds, please visit our free weed identification guide. After determining which weeds you are trying to get rid of, check out our article on the best weed killers for zoysia grass.

Zoysia FAQ

Does zoysia grass tolerate traffic?

Zoysia lawns can handle a moderate amount of traffic. Zoysia grass can be used for yards that host pets or children. Always make sure that a lawn that receives an average amount of traffic is adequately watered. Adequate hydration will help the grass to rebound from traffic or stress.

Is Zoysia grass good for pets?

Zoysia is a hearty turfgrass that tolerates traffic well. Zoysia is a good choice for lawns that house pets. Do keep in mind that any pet urine can harm a lawn. But there are ways to repair lawn damage caused by pet urine.

How do you get Zoysia grass to spread in a lawn?

Removing thatch and other debris is the first step to encourage Zoysia grass to spread. Filling in any dead spots with a seed and sand mixture will cover bald spots in the area. Applying fertilizer to an existing zoysia lawn encourages the grass to grow and spread. If the turfgrass is beyond repair, a yard may need to be started from seed. You can find more information on starting a lawn from seed here

What nutrients does Zoysia Grass need?

Zoysia grass needs a large amount of Nitrogen during the growing season. Most experts recommend applying three to four pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft per year. Zoysia also needs an ample amount of potassium annually.

How to kill Zoysia grass?

Zoysia’s hardiness isn’t a great feature if your non-zoysia lawn is suffering from a zoysia invasion. But there are ways to kill zoysia grass. It can be killed using many of the same herbicides that kill other grasses. Any glyphosate-based product will kill Zoysia turf.

Will Zoysia grass grow in clay soil?

Zoysia grass will grow in soil that is more clay than sand. If a lawn’s soil is clay, it is important to make sure that space drains well after being watered. Standing water can lead to rot and disease.

Will Zoysia grass grow in sandy soil?

Zoysia grass will grow well in sandy soil. Zoysia turf is a popular choice of homeowners in southern and coastal areas of the United States, due to its preference for sandy soil. Sandy soil drains well and reduces the chances of rot and disease. Sandy soil may need extra fertilization to supplement nutrients found in rich topsoil.

Where can I buy Zoysia grass seed?

Like most grass varieties, Zoysia grass seed can be found in covered and uncovered types. Lawn and Petal recommends purchasing a covered grass seed when starting or overseeding a lawn. More information can be found on our Zoysia Grass Seed page.

Does Zoysia grass go dormant?

Zoysia grass will go dormant after air temperatures dive below 55 degrees for a few days in a row. Zoysia grass will begin to turn brown and lose some color in the beginning stages of dormancy. Zoysia grass does not die in dormancy; it ceases to grow.

Homeowners should avoid fertilization and herbicide application during dormancy. Forcing dormant grass to grow can cause undue stress and damage to the lawn. Stunned or strained lawns are also more susceptible to insect and disease attacks in dormancy.

Is Zoysia grass a warm or cool-season grass?

Zoysia grass is considered a warm-season grass. Temperatures warmer than 75 degrees are excellent for the grass to grow in. .

When does Zoysia grass come out of dormancy?

Zoysia lawns typically exit dormancy when ambient temperatures reach 70 degrees for multiple days in a row.

When should I plant Zoysia grass?

Zoysia lawns should be planted after the last threat of frost has passed. Zoysia grass needs temperatures more than 70 degrees to grow. Exposing newly planted Zoysia seed or sod to cold temperatures can stun or kill the turf. Planting should occur mid-Spring and should avoid any freezing or cold temperatures for more than 60 days.

Are Centipede grass and Zoysia grass the same thing?

Zoysia and Centipede are two different species of grass. Each species has a unique set of temperature, nutrition, and sunlight needs.

Where can Zoysia grass be planted?

Zoysia turf enjoys full sun and warm temperatures. Homeowners should not plant zoysia in areas that receive excessive amounts of shade throughout the day. Zoysia grass needs between 1 and 1.25 inches of water per week. Zoysia lawns also should not be exposed to excessive snow or frost. The Southern region of the United States is the most popular growing area for Zoysia grass.

What soil pH does Zoysia grass need?

Zoysia lawns need to have a pH of between 6 and 7 for optimal growth. Annual soil testing can help a homeowner balance soil pH levels. You can find more information on soil pH testing and analysis here.

Can Zoysia grass grow in a transitional zone?

Zoysia grass is considered a warm-season grass. Zoysia has a higher tolerance for colder weather than other warm-season grass species. Zoysia is recommended for use in transitional climate zones. Transitional climate zones can experience hot summers and cold winters. Common transitional zones include Northern Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

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