Zoysia Grass: Types, Problems, And How To Plant & Grow

What is Zoysia Grass?

Zoysia grass is an increasingly popular option for homeowners and landscapers alike. It is a warm-season turfgrass that is known for its fine blades, soft texture, and light to emerald green color. This grass turns straw-like and brown in cooler winter months.

It stands out among other lawn grass types because of its ability to tolerate heavy foot traffic, low-maintenance requirements, and pest tolerance. Hence, this grass is ideal for those with busy lifestyles or limited budgets.

It is a creeping grass genus, which is native to Asia but is been in the United States since 1895. This genus is named after the Slovenian botanist Karl von Zois.

Zoysia grass has a fine texture due to its densely growing blades. Further, it is tolerant of cold temperatures, combining the benefits of both cool-season and warm-season varieties in one species!

Zoysia’s resistance to disease makes it an attractive choice for any outdoor area as well, ensuring an aesthetically pleasing lawn that lasts throughout the changing seasons.

It is significantly lower in water demand compared to other warm-season grasses, making it perfect for areas with frequent droughts.

Its active growth gets started in the warmness of late spring and is maximum during hot summer weather. It is a perennial grass means when grown in appropriate climates, it comes back year after year.

In the transition zone, where most northern and southern lawn grasses meet the limits of their climate preferences. Some of the cool-season grasses can struggle with added heat and humidity here. Similarly, in this zone’s northern area, cold winter temperatures can pose a challenge to some of the warm-season grasses. Thus, Zoysia’s heat and cold tolerance let it flourish in this region.

All in all, if you are looking for an attractive yet low-maintenance turfgrass option for your lawn, Zoysia grass is the best choice for you.

Zoysia Grass at a Glance

Botanical NameZoysia spp
Plant typePerennial turf grass
ClassificationWarm-season grass
Grass TextureSoft
Grass ColorLight to emerald green
Average mature size (height)4 to 6 inches
Requirements for soil typeWell-drained, Any type of soil from clay to sandy
Heat ToleranceGood
Nutrition requirementsLow to moderate nitrogen requirement
Sun exposureFull
Salt toleranceModerate
Drought ToleranceHigh
Average Mowing height1-2.5 inches, mow taller if the grass is in partial shade 
Hardiness zonebetween 5 to 10
Spreads byStolons and rhizomes
Soil pH value6.0 to 6.5
Shade toleranceTolerates light to moderate shade
Water RequirementsLow
Traffic toleranceHigh
Maintenance RequirementsLow
Mowing frequencyModerate
Disease ResistanceGood
SuitabilitySouthern and transition zones
Native AreaKorea

What Are The Types of Zoysia Grass?

Some of the common types of Zoysia grass are explained below. Read to know different varieties of Zoysia grass:

TypeCharacteristicsIdeal useMow heightWear toleranceInjury toleranceShade toleranceDrought tolerance
EI Toro Zoysia– Lighter green colored.
– Medium blades.
– Slower Vertical growth rate.
– Requires less water and fewer mowing than other Zoysia grasses.
– Can withstand heavy foot traffic and grows rapidly in hot temperatures.
Golf, commercial landscapes, and home lawns.1.5 to 2.5 inchesGoodGoodModerateGood
Zorro Zoysia– Very fine-bladed and soft-to-feel leaves.
– Dark green colored.
– Lowest water requirements.
– Thrives well in full sun or partial shade.
– Requires only 3–4 hours of sunlight to grow well
Parks, commercial landscapes, and home lawns.1 to 2 inchesVery goodNot sureGoodVery good
Zeon Zoysia– Medium green colored.
– Superior fine- blades.
– Low maintenance.
– Low fertility requirements.
– Dense growth habits.
Home lawns, commercial landscapes, and golf parks.1.5 inchesExcellentGoodVery goodGood
Palisades Zoysia– Medium to coarse textured.
– Thick blade width.
– Very dense turf.
– Easy maintenance.
– It is more salt-tolerant, heat tolerant, and cold-tolerant than some of the other Zoysias.
Commercial and residential landscapes, golf, parks, and home lawns.1 to 2 inchesVery goodVery goodModerateVery good
Meyer Zoysia– Medium-bladed.
– Slow growth.
– Dark green colored.
– Very dense turf.  
Home lawns, commercial landscapes, and parks1. 0 to 1.5 inchesGood      GoodVery goodGood
Geo Zoysia– Fine-bladed.
– Deep green colored.
– Most beautiful turf grass.
– Requires quite more maintenance.
Commercial and home lawns, parks, and golf courses0.5 to 1.5 inchesVery goodgoodVery goodVery good
Citrazoy Zoysia– Requires less mowing.
– Fine-bladed.
– Green colored.
– Low maintenance.  
Home lawns, commercial parks, and golf courses.1 to 3 inchesExcellentGoodVery goodExcellent
Innovation Zoysia– Thin fine blade.
– Thick growth.
– More versatile.
– Easy to maintain.
– Dark green colored.    
Home lawns, commercial landscapes, parks, golf courses.1 to 2 inchesGoodGoodGoodVery good
Empire Zoysia
– Exceptional performance.
– Low maintenance.
– Blue-green color.
– Wider blades.  
Commercial and home lawns, parks, and golf courses  1 to 2 inchesVery goodVery goodGoodVery good

How To Plant And Grow Zoysia Grass?

Here, we are explaining the step-by-step process to plant Zoysia grass in different ways i.e. with seeds, sods, and plugs. Also, we will mention the correct timing to plant this grass to get the best possible growth. So, let’s dig out:

Planting Zoysia Grass Through Seeds

Planting Zoysia grass through seeds is an easy process. Let’s learn what the steps involved in planting and growing this grass through seeds:

  • In the very first step measure your lawn area, so that you get to know what amount of fertilizer, topsoil, and seed you will require.
  • In the next step, you need to test the soil, whether or not it contains the right amount of nutrients, and to know its pH value, to germinate the seeds adequately. The ideal pH value of the soil for the Zoysia grass is 6.0 to 6.5.
  • If needed, depending on the results of your soil test, put nutrients in the soil to maintain the required pH level. If the pH of the soil is too alkaline, then add sulfur or aluminum sulfate to it to decrease the pH. And if it is too much acidic, then increase the pH by adding fine agricultural limestone.
  • Now remove all the debris (like rocks, etc.) from the lawn area and break the large chunks of soil with the help of a rake. Basically, make the surface smooth.
  • Now, evenly spread the seed over the lawn using a spreader at a rate of 1 to 3 pounds per 1000 square feet. The spreader helps to spread the right amount of seed. Too much seed in a particular area can cause overcrowding and low germination rates, and too little seed in an area can leave that area looking thin.
  • Lightly tamp the soil with the help of a lawn roller, instead of covering them with a thin layer of straw. The best germination of Zoysia seeds happens when they come in contact with direct sunlight.
  • For the first 2 to 3 weeks or until the seeds germinate, keep the soil moist but not water-logged. You must give the soil an inch of water and make sure that the soil’s top 0.5 inch is always moist.
  • Once the grass is established, it should receive an inch of water per week.

Planting Zoysia Grass Through Sod

Let’s know about the steps involved in planting and growing this grass through sod:

  • First of all, measure your lawn area to calculate the number of Zoysia grass sod needed for your lawn.
  • Now, till and smoothen the soil.
  • In the next step, you need to water the soil so that it gets slightly moist, and then lay the sod slabs on the lawn. The edges of the sod should be connected to the edges of adjacent sods.
  • Now, roll the sod to create an even surface.
  • Water the sod and keep it moist for the next 2 weeks.

Planting Zoysia Grass Through Plugs

Let’s know about the steps involved in planting and growing this grass through plugs:

  • Dig holes for the Zoysia grass plugs. There should be a 1-foot space between 2 holes. Put one plug in one hole and gently press them with your feet.
  • To boost turf growth, use a starter fertilizer.
  • Water the grass daily for the first 2 weeks. Then reduce the frequency of water, and aim for 1 inch of water per week.
  • In practice, growing zoysia grass from sod or plugs is preferred over growing it from seed because of the seeds’ low availability and high cost.

When is The Best Time to Plant Zoysia Grass?

The best time to plant Zoysia grass is late spring and fall when there is no frost.

As this grass will not grow well under frost, so it’s essential to avoid planting it in freezing weather.

Thus, it’s best to plant zoysia grass after the last spring frost and 60 days before the first fall frost.

What Are The Diseases or Problems That Might Occur With Zoysia Grass?

There are some diseases or problems to which Zoysia grass gets easily prone. If you have Zoysia grass on your lawn, then knowing about these diseases in advance would help you to deal with them easily.

So, let’s know about the diseases or problems that might occur with Zoysia Grass:

1. Pythium

Pythium disease, which is also called cottony blight, of Zoysia grass is a fungal disease. This disease forms patches on the grass that may become as wide as 12 inches and cause the grass to die slowly.

It is caused by various species of fungus named Pythium and is most commonly caused by Pythium aphanidermatum. Pythium is mainly caused by poor soil drainage and affects almost all species of zoysia grass.

Symptoms of Pythium include:

  • The color of the leaf blades will change from green to reddish-brown
  • The turf may have patches generally 6 to 12 inches in diameter
  • The grass may begin to dry with the progression of the disease
  • Areas that are affected by this disease wither and die
  • If the level of humidity is high then a gray-colored or white moldy growth may grow on the damaged areas of the grass

To avoid the pythium, follow these steps:

  • Avoid overwatering your lawn.
  • Provide good water drainage, especially during the rainy seasons
  • Water your lawn in minimal amounts
  • Water your lawn early in the day and avoid watering during the night or late evening
  • Mow the lawn frequently to limit moisture buildup
  • Make sure that mowing equipment (mowers) is clean and free from debris
  • Mow your lawn when the stem and leaves of grass are dry

The best way to prevent this disease is by maintaining a healthy lawn with proper fertilization and good drainage.

If you suspect that the grass has Pythium disease, contact your local extension agent for help in identifying the problem and implementing solutions.

2. Powdery Mildew

The powdery mildew disease of Zoysia grass is a fungal disease and is caused by the fungus Erysiphe graminis. This fungus is present as small white-colored powdery patches appearing on the upper surface of the grass. If left untreated, it rapidly spreads to the entire grass. When the disease progresses the leaf blades may become yellow colored and die after some time.

This disease is widespread in areas with high humidity. It spreads even faster if the grass has poor aeration.

Powdery mildew easily spread across the whole lawn by spores through the wind. The signs of this disease are most likely to appear in heavily shaded areas. Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer can also increase the risk of this disease.

Prevention of Powdery mildew

  • Trim the surrounding trees so as to allow sunlight, as this is common in heavily shaded areas
  • Avoid excessive watering (one inch of water in a week is sufficient)

Treatment of Powdery mildew

You should monitor your lawn regularly during this time period and take action if you see any signs of disease development. The best fungicides that could be used for the treatment are neem oil, sulfur, potassium bicarbonate, and lime sulfur.

You should always consult with a professional when you suspect powdery mildew as they can determine the best course of treatment for your specific situation.

3. Leaf Spot

Leaf spot disease of zoysia grass, or Zoysia leaf spot, is a common and widespread problem that could damage the zoysia grass. This disease can affect the roots, leaves, and crown of Zoysia grass. The main cause of this disease is the fungus Bipolaris sorokiniana.

Symptoms of leaf spots include the formation of spots with purplish-black borders. Roots and crown turn dark brown to black in color. When the leaf blades start to turn brown, the affected part mostly withers and dies.

This disease is predominant on warm days and cool nights. Lack of proper fertilization is also one of its causes.

Prevention of Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot can be prevented by following steps:

  • Appropriate use of nitrogen fertilizer (don’t use its excessive amounts).
  • Proper watering and mowing practices should be followed. The best mowing height for your lawn would be between ½ to 1½ inches.
  • Mow your lawn when it is dry

Treatment of Leaf Spot

The disease can be treated with fungicides, but it is difficult to control and may continue to spread over time if not properly controlled.

Treatment of Leaf Spot is done for at most two weeks and can be repeated to eliminate the fungi completely. Continuous treatment may be required for this disease, particularly in the summer season

4. Rust

Zoysia grass is susceptible to rust disease which is generally detected through a yellow powder during mowing.

Rust develops when it is warm and humid; and usually affects the grass in late summer. It is characterized by the development of reddish-brown spots on the leaf blades and stem. With the progression of the disease, the leaf blades may turn yellow and die. The affected lawn looks thin and weak and forms irregular patches with a rusty tinge.

The common causes of rust are poor air circulation, more shade, and high humidity.

Prevention of Rust

To prevent rust disease from damaging your Zoysia grass, follow these steps:

  • Improve the grass air circulation (by frequent mowing at the recommended height)
  • Prevent the grass from getting overly wet
  • Get rid of grass clippings
  • Use an adequate amount of nitrogen fertilizer in the soil

5. Dollar Spot

Dollar spot disease of Zoysia grass is a fungal disease that can occur at any point during the plant’s growing time. It is believed to be caused by a fungus called Sclerotinia homeocarpa, but studies have shown that fungus from the genus Lanzia or Moellerodiscus may also cause dollar spot.

A dollar spot is characterized by the development of small straw-colored spots that occur on the individual leaves and are of the size of a silver dollar. On inspecting the infected leaf blades during the early hours when the grass is wet with dew, you can see white thread-like hyphae of the disease-causing fungus.

Dollar Spot mostly develops when the soil moisture content is low and the humidity is high. This disease also develops when adequate amounts of fertilizer are not used on the soil. This disease is a common indication that Zoysia grass lacks nitrogen.

This disease is spread easily by wind mowers, water, or anything that can move the fungi from one place to another. This disease can also cause severe damage to your lawn if left untreated.

The use of organic fungicides (like Bonide liquid copper) is the main treatment method for dollar spot.

Prevention of Dollar Spot

  • Mow regularly.
  • Remove Excessive thatch.
  • Appropriate use of fertilizers
  • Appropriate watering techniques

6. Fusarium Patch (or Blight)

Fusarium patch (or blight) is a fungal infection that affects Zoysia grass and is caused by Microdochium nivale. It is also known as pink snow mold.

It is characterized by the development of yellow spots, which generally occurs when the snow covering the lawn starts to melt. Initially, these yellow spots are 1 to 3 inches in diameter which then turn brown and form rings that are between 12 to 24 inches wide.

Fusarium patch occurs in cool temperatures i.e. during autumn and winter. Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer may also cause a fast outbreak of this disease. Poor thatch management can also increase the risk of this blight.

Once your grass is diagnosed with this disease, numerous treatment options are available. But none of them is 100% effective, as this is the most stubborn fungi.

This blight has a life span of 3 to 5 years. The use of fungicides strictly meant for this blight can be helpful in its treatment

Prevention of Fusarium blight

There are three ways to prevent Fusarium blight:

(1) Using resistant varieties

(2) Using fungicides; and

(3) Using soil amendments such as compost or lime sulfur to control the fungus before it has a chance to infect your lawn.

7. Brown Patch or Zoysia Brown Patch

Brown patch disease of Zoysia grass is the most common disease that affects Zoysia grass lawns. Temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the night and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day may cause this disease. Zoysia Brown Spot may spread with excessive fertilization. 

The most common indication of a brown patch is a ring of brown-colored grass around a patch of green grass.

You can avoid this disease by moderate fertilization during summer. In case, the disease is already spread, you can treat it by applying appropriate fungicides.

8. Nematode

Zoysia grass can become infected with nematodes if it is not properly maintained. Nematodes are parasites that live in the soil and obtain nutrients from plants by feeding on their cellular sap.

Once Zoysia grass is infested by nematodes, it thins out, turns yellow, and fails to develop. If this grass doesn’t get urgent care and treatment, it is likely to die.

The roots of the grass may become swollen and ultimately turn black. For its treatment with chemicals, it is necessary to have the right diagnosis.

Nematode infections can be prevented by avoiding any extra stress on the lawn. The grass should be appropriately irrigated and fertilized. The soil should have the proper availability of all the crucial nutrients. A properly cared- lawn can improve the health of this grass and increase its capability to combat nematode parasites.

With this, we have discussed everything about Zoysia grass, which is one of the most popular grasses among lawn owners. Hope you have liked reading this article.


1) Zoysiagrass – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

2) University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

3) Home & Garden Information Center – Clemson University, South Carolina.

4) Establishment and Care of Zoysiagrass Lawns – University of Missouri.

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