Zoysia Grass: The Complete Guide for Homeowners (Including Pros, Cons, and Care Tips)

Lawn area with zoysia grass and shadows of palm trees.

Are you searching for warm-season grass tough enough to handle heavy foot traffic, heat, and drought? How about one that is easy to maintain, even after a weekend filled with croquet tournaments and family get-togethers? Consider Zoysia Grass.

What is Zoysia grass? One of the most popular grasses in the southern region of the United States, Zoysia possesses characteristics that make it a great choice for many homeowners. In this article, we’ll tell you more about Zoysia, including the top Zoysia grass pros and cons.

What Is Zoysia Grass?

Zoysia is a versatile, warm-season turf grass that grows best in the southern parts of the country, from the Deep South to Southern California and even Hawaii. When Zoysia grass arrived in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it quickly caught on.

Ever since, homeowners appreciate its natural resistance to heat and humidity and its ability to withstand heavy foot traffic. (This last feature makes it a prime choice for couples with kids or pets.) Zoysia typically begins to grow in late spring, peaking in summer and going into hibernation when the colder months arrive. This perennial grass does take a while to grow, but once established, it will come back year after year –assuming it receives proper care and maintenance.

Other Major Characteristics of Zoysia

  • Warm-season classification
  • Heat and drought tolerance
  • Some cold tolerance
  • Salt tolerance in some cultivars (a good grass for growing near the coast)
  • Some shade tolerance
  • Forms a dense carpet of grass
  • Quick recovery
  • Low water requirements
  • Easy maintenance
  • Ability to keep weeds to a minimum

What Does Zoysia Grass Look Like?

Generally, Zoysia grass features narrow and sharply pointed grass blades with an attractive light-to-emerald-green color. It comes in many varieties, so its appearance differs depending on which seeds or sod you choose for your lawn.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common Zoysia grass varieties.

Zoysia Pacifica (also known as Zoysia Tenuifolia):

Zoysia Pacifica grass

  • Tends to look fluffy or puffy
  • Has short and very fine grass blades
  • Is a clumpy and very dense grass

Zoysia Matrella (also known as Manila Grass):

Zoysia Matrella grass.

  • Has fine-textured, slender leaves
  • Features medium to dark-green color

Zoysia Japonica (also called Japanese or Korean Lawngrass):

Zoysia Japonica grass.

  • Has coarse-textured leaves
  • Reveals vibrant green color during its active growing season

Key Differences Between Zoysia Grass and Other Popular Grasses

Not sure which grass to choose for your lawn? Although Zoysia is a popular pick for homeowners and commercial landscapers, it’s not the only option. Let’s see how Zoysia stacks up against two other common grasses, Bermuda and fescue.

Zoysia grass vs. Bermuda grass:

Blade comparison: Zoysia blades are thicker and wider than Bermuda blades (about ¼-inch wide compared to ⅛-inch wide). Zoysia’s blades are also coarse and tend to have a more muted green color compared to Bermuda’s deep green.

Density and growth habits: Zoysia is a slow-growing grass. Bermuda grows quickly. Both are good for high-traffic areas.

Zoysia grass vs. Fescue grass:

Blade comparison: Zoysia is a lower-growing and less coarse grass than fescue.

Growth habits: Zoysia is a warm-season grass, and fescue is a cool-season grass. While Zoysia prefers the sun, fescue can grow in areas with less sunlight.

When to Plant Zoysia Grass

The best time to plant Zoysia is from mid to late spring, ideally after the final frost of the year. You can also plant it during early summer or fall, but if you plan to do that, give it at least 60 days before the first frost of the year.

Since Zoysia is a warm-season grass, it is essential to grow it in the appropriate region. Zoysia does best in the southern regions of the United States, known as the warm-season grass zone. Zoysia can also grow in what landscapers call the “transition zone,” but the further north you are, the more your Zoysia will struggle. Not sure which zone you live in? You can look it up online or simply ask your landscaper.

Zoysia Grass Maintenance Tips

Dethatching rake on zoysia grass lawn.

Now that you have a better idea of what Zoysia grass is and when it should be planted, let’s talk about its care requirements.

Light needs: Zoysia loves warm weather, so it needs to grow in an area that receives full sun. If your yard receives lots of full sun, you can enjoy a plush, dense lawn.

Soil needs: Zoysia can grow well in a variety of soils.

Watering needs: Although Zoysia is a drought-tolerant grass, it will grow better if you apply at least 1 inch of water per week. We recommend watering deeply and in the morning.

Dethatching: Zoysia grows thick and dense, so you may need to dethatch during its peak growth season.

Aeration: If your yard has compact soil, aeration will be beneficial.

Zoysia Grass Pros and Cons

Is Zoysia grass the right choice for your lawn? Before you make this big decision, it’s important to know exactly what to expect and understand major upsides and downsides of putting Zoysia on your property.


  • Soft to walk on and considered one of the best “barefoot grasses”
  • Can hold its own against weeds
  • Tolerant of drought, heat, and salt
  • Likes full sun
  • Can tolerate light shade
  • Can handle high levels of traffic, making it great for families
  • Grows well in a variety of soils
  • Comes in many varieties, giving homeowners lots of choices


  • Establishes slowly if grown from seed or grass plugs
  • Turns brown during drought
  • May have problems with thatch
  • Tends to recover slowly from wear

Ready to Grow with Zoysia?

Though Zoysia has a lot to offer homeowners, one of its challenges is that it's slow to establish from seeds or grass plugs. If you want to add Zoysia to your lawn, we recommend investing in sod and hiring a company with experience laying sod, like The Grounds Guys®.

If you already have a Zoysia lawn, make sure you take great care of it. Though Zoysia grass is prized for its durability, it still requires regular lawn maintenance and seasonal services, such as fertilization and pest control.

Don’t have the time to grow a lush lawn or maintain your landscape? Find your local The Grounds Guys and let our lawn care experts do the work. We provide free estimates and stand by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which ensures your satisfaction. Our local teams are highly experienced in working with Zoysia and will ensure your Zoysia lawn thrives.

Contact us today!