man mowing zoysia grass

Zoysia Grass: The Ultimate Guide

When choosing the right type of sod, you must first consider where you live and the climate you will be growing your grass. It is important to learn about different varieties so you can choose the right sod for your yard’s needs.

NG Turf’s Sod School has published an assortment of articles on grass varieties such as Choosing the Best Sod Variety, Choosing the Best Bermuda Grass,  and Shade Tolerant Sod.  In this article, we will focus solely on all things Zoysia.

Zoysia Facts

  • Warm Season Grass

    Zoysia is a warm season grass, growing throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States. It  performs wells in heat and tolerates cooler weather. While zoysia is more common in the south, it can still survive in the transition zones.  

  • Shade Tolerant

     Zoysia tolerates shade better than most warm season grasses.  It thrives in the sun, but will survive in the shade with at least four to five hours of direct sunlight.

  • Dormancy

    Zoysia typically begins to go dormant after the first frost of the year, but is also one of the first grass types to turn green in the spring. Once soil temperates reach 50 degrees again, zoysia will come back full and green. 

grass zone map
zoysia sod close up, northern georiga

Zoysia Characteristics

What are rhizomes and stolons?

Zoysia grass reproduces through two types of horizontal stems.  Stolons creep along the surface of the soil, putting down roots every few inches to create new plants.  Rhizomes grow below the surface. Stolons and rhizomes form underneath the surface, putting up shoots every few inches. Stolons and rhizomes help zoysia grass grow into dense lawns. 

diagram showing Rhizome and Stolon of zoysia grass
Rhizomes grow below the surface. Stolons creep along the surface.

Pro and Cons of Zoysia Lawns

freshly laid lawn of zoysia sod


  • Grows in sun or partial shade
  • Drought tolerant —deep root system helps resist drought
  • Thrives in heat and tolerates cooler temperatures
  • Less fertilizing — requires less nitrogen than other varieties
  • Less mowing — more lateral than vertical growth for less maintenance
  • Soft feel underfoot
installing dormant sod in winter

Things to Consider

  • Dormancy — turns golden brown with the first frost, like all warm season grasses
  • Slower recovery — longer recovery period from high stress in comparison to some varieties
  • Disease — may develop large patch

Establishing Zoysia Grass

As far as installing and initial establishment of zoysia grasses, they do not differ greatly from other turfgrass varieties. 

seed vs sod

Sod vs. Seed

Homeowners typically have more success installing zoysia as sod. Growing a zoysia lawn from seed can be difficult due to the fact that only a small percentage of seed will germinate. Zoysia also requires high amounts of sunlight and water until the lawn is established, demanding a great deal of resources and time to create optimal conditions.  Seeded varieties produce a coarser texture and the growth can be uneven, often forming mounds. If you desire a soft, fully established zoysia lawn in less time with less effort, installing sod is the best option. 

Visit NG Turf’s resources page to view and/or download the sod installation guide. 

Where can zoysia grass be used? 

Zoysia grass is commonly used for home lawns, commercial landscapes, athletic fields and golf courses — for fairways, tees and roughs. Zoysia is an excellent choice for families with young children or pets because it stands up well to foot traffic and feels soft underfoot.

Zoysia Maintenance

All lawns require some maintenance. Zoysia is a low maintenance grass, requiring less time and attention to look its best.

Zoysia Maintenance Includes:

  • Watering
  • Mowing
  • Fertilization
  • Weed Control
  • Insect/Fungus Control
  • De-thatching
  • Aeration

Watering Zoysia Grass:

  • When: It is best to water your lawn in the morning before the dew dries. This helps reduce water loss and avoid fungal issues.

  • How much: After establishment zoysia needs one inch of water per week from rain or irrigation, ideally half an inch twice a week. During periods of heat or drought, increase watering. The specific amount of watering time depends on your individual sprinkler system or method of watering.

    *Watering TipPlace a straight-sided container under your sprinkler and measure with a ruler to see how long it takes to get a 1/2 inch of water. A rain gauge on your sprinkler system will help prevent overwatering.

  • When: It is best to water your lawn in the morning before the dew dries. This helps reduce water loss and fungus issues.
  • *Caution:  Watering your lawn too much, too little or at the wrong time of day may cause damage or invite disease.

    *Note: Zoysia is moderately drought resistant. During extended drought and heat, zoysia may go dormant, turning brown, then green up after rain.

Watering Zoysia Grass:

  • When: After sod installation, you can begin mowing once grass is fully rooted and can no longer be lifted from the soil. Typically in the South, mowing the lawn is necessary from April thru October.

  • Height: Optimal mowing height is between 1/2 inch to 2 inches during the growing season. In areas of shade and during heat or drought, opt for the higher end of the recommended mowing heights.

  • How: Remove 1/3 or less of the grass blade at a time, and remember to keep those mower blades sharp to avoid damage and disease. Mowing regularly lowers the chance of thatch developing.
man pushing gas power lawn mower

Fertilizing Zoysia Grass

  • *Note: We always recommend testing your soil before fertilizing. Contact your local or state Cooperative Extension office for more information on soil testing. 

  • What: Zoysia grass generally requires 0.5 to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually. Use a fertilizer with a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

  • When: Apply fertilizer in spring and late summer. Do not fertilize in spring before May 1 or until sod is 100% green. Avoid high nitrogen “winterizing” fertilizers in fall. However, an application of phosphorus in the fall is beneficial in adding the plant in storing carbohydrates. 
  • How: Apply fertilizer to dry grass and immediately apply water to saturate soil. Always read product instructions and warnings carefully. 

Weed, Insect, and Fungus Control

  • Weed Control: Broadleaf weeds like dandelion, clover, and annual bluegrass are most common in zoysia. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in spring and fall to prevent weeds from developing.

  • Caution: The root inhibiting properties of pre-emergent herbicide can negatively affect a newly sodded lawn, which is establishing roots of its own. It  acceptable for a newly sodded lawn to contain few weeds. We suggest hand picking weeds for the first season.

  • Insect Control:  A healthy lawn will naturally resist insect infestation. Apply targeted insecticide if problems arise. Always follow label instructions carefully.

De-thatching Zoysia Grass

  • What: De-thatching simply refers removing the accumulated brown plant material (thatch) from underneath the green leaf blades.

  • Why: When thatch builds up, pests and diseases can attack the grass. A thick layer of thatch (one inch or more) can also block water and fertilizer.When a thatch layer is too thick, water from irrigation can accumulate in the thatch, suffocating the grass roots from lack of oxygen. A thin thatch layer (less than half an inch), is beneficial to a lawn’s health. It acts as organic mulch to help conserve soil moisture and protect against wide fluctuations in soil temperature.

  • When: Zoysia grass should be de-thatched in spring or fall. Check your lawn’s thatch layer before de-thatching. If it reaches an inch, it is time to de-thatch.


  • What: Aeration simply involves poking small holes through the grass and into the soil.

  • Why: Making holes in the soil allows air and water to get through. It also always the roots to have some room.

Zoysia Lawn Maintenance Schedule:


JanuarySit back and relax!
February*Apply pre emergent herbicide to prevent summer weeds
March*De-thatch and aerate once before the grass turns green
April*De-thatch after green-up if needed
*Mow – 1/2 to 2 inches high
*Mow – 1/2 to 2 inches high
*Mow- 1/2 to 2 inches high
July *Water
*Mow- 1/2 to 2 inches high
*Mow – 1/2 to 2 inches high
*Apply pre emergent herbicide to control cool season weeds
*Mow- set blade to 2 inches to prepare grass for winter
NovemberIn cool weather grass will go dormant. It is resting, so you can too!
DecemberEnjoy the holidays!

Zoysia Varieties

NG Turf grows and harvests four premium zoysia sod varieties, each offering a unique quality. 

zeon zoysia logo
  • Zeon 

    Zeon® is a barefoot grass, soft to the touch and developed to provide a superior fine-bladed zoysia. Its remarkable shade performance, low thatch production and improved traffic tolerance make it an ideal grass for home lawns, commercial installations and golf courses. Zeon’s extensive root system produces a thick, compact turf in a wide range of soil types. Zeon is sold only as certified zoysia.

el toro zoysia logo
  • El Toro 

    El Toro sod is the most drought tolerant zoysia variety and also tolerates shade well. It is easy to maintain with a rotary mower and requires less nitrogen than other grasses. El Toro’s dark green color and density provide a high quality turf, perfect for residential and commercial installations. 

meyer zoysia sod logo
  • Meyer

    Meyer zoysia has been grown successfully for more than 50 years. Native to Japan, it features a dark green color with a slightly wider blade. Meyer spreads to create a dense lawn that provides good traffic and cold tolerance.

Want to View a Side-by-side Comparison of Zoysia Varieties?

 Visit our zoysia varieties page to view a side-by-side comparison of NG Turf’s zoysia varieties regarding features such as: 

Interested in learning more about other sod varieties NG Turf has to offer?

 Visit our varieties page to view a side-by-side comparison of all the sod varieties NG Turf has to offer. 


If you have specific questions concerning sod varieties or sod maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact one of NG Turf’s Certified Turfgrass Professionals at 770.832.8608 or


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