Pixel Code -->

Lawn Lovers Profile: Zoysia Grass

November 15th, 2013

Americans are crazy about their lawns. For many, the lawn is more than just another chore; it’s a passion. If your love affair with your lawn is a bit more passionate than most, then you probably love reading up on various grass types. Zoysia grass is a super resilient grass with a fun history.

Zoysia is a warm season grass that is native to the Far-East, in countries like China and Japan. Zoysia got its name from a celebrated 18th century Austrian botanist, Karl von Zois. In 1911, Zoysia grass species, Zoysia Matrella, found its way to America with USDA botanist, C.V Piper. For decades it was called Manila grass in the states because of its association with the Philippines.

There are three major species of Zoysia.

  • Zoysia Matrella—Brought to the US by botanist C.V Piper. She described the grass as lush and abundant near the seashore. This inspired her to bring it to the Gulf region of the US. Matrella has an intermediate leaf texture and shoot density. It is slow to establish, and is very finicky when it comes to the cold.
  • Zoysia Japonica—Sometimes called “Japanese lawn grass” or “Korean lawn grass,” it is a coarser texture than matrella. It is also less susceptible to the cold. It can fare well as far north as the state of Maryland.
  • Zoysia Tenuifolia—This species is often called “Korean velvet grass” or “Mascarene grass,” and it is a very finely textured species. Used most often is southern California as a low growing ground cover.

From these species a few varieties of Zoysia have been created. The following are some of the most popular Zoysia varieties.

  • Meyer—Meyer Zoysia can also be referred to by the names of Z-52 or Amazoy. It has a dark green color and medium leaf texture. It is not very shade tolerant.
  • Emerald—This is a hybrid of Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia. Combining the cold tolerance, color and growth rate of the japonica, with the fine texture and density of tenuifolia, it is a very versatile choice.
  • Belaire—Belaire is an improved variety of japonica from Maryland, released by the USDA in 1985. It has a faster growth rate than the Meyer variety, and because it was developed so far north, it has enviable cold tolerance.
  • El Toro—In 1986, the USDA released the El Toro variety of Zoysia grass. Noted for its excellent cold tolerance and lush green color.
  • Cashmere—Out of Florida comes this Zoysia variety from Pursley Turf. Debuting in 1988, Cashmere Zoysia resembles the Emerald variety in density, color and texture but lacks the stiff, bristle-like feel underfoot.

All Zoysia varieties are tenacious and extremely drought tolerant. Under more severe droughts, it may turn a yellowish-brown, however. It manages this by having a deep root system. This allows it to effectively extract water from greater depths in the soil than other varieties.

Nearly as salt tolerant as the famed Bermuda grass, it is widely used along seashores if drainage is adequate. However, if you live near a salty body of water, be sure that your soil is draining properly, especially if the salinity is high. Zoysia does not fare well in areas with poor drainage.

Though Zoysia is tough, one of the most wear tolerant of turf grasses, its slow rate of growth makes it a poor choice if you are looking to use it to quickly recuperate a lawn.

As far as fertilizing goes, you may want to hold off. It is best to wait at least one month before fertilizing newly installed Zoysia grass, as there is little to no root activity as the plant acclimates.

If you live in the southern US, Zoysia grass is a reliable choice for your lawn. Its drought tolerance and preference for warm climates means Zoysia will be healthy, green and lush, from Virginia to Texas. Visit your local nursery, or seek out a landscaper for more information on Zoysia.