Sumo Gardener

Zoysia Grass – How to Grow and Care Guide

Zoysia grass is a warm-season turfgrass that is known for its deep green color and fine texture. It grows well in full sun and can tolerate a variety of soil types, making it an ideal lawn grass in many areas of the U.S.

However, growing Zoysia can be tricky if you don’t have the right conditions and follow the recommended best practices. In this article, we will discuss how to grow zoysia grass successfully so you can enjoy a lush, green lawn all season long.


How to Grow Zoysia Grass

Getting to Know Zoysia Grass

Zoysia Grass Varieties

There are several different types of zoysia grass, so it’s important to choose the one that is best suited for your climate and soil type. Some common varieties include Meyer zoysia, Emerald zoysia, and El Toro zoysia. 

When choosing a variety, consider factors such as your local climate (zoysia grass does not do well in cold winters), shade tolerance (some varieties are more tolerant than others), and drought resistance (zoysia grass needs regular watering).

Meyer Zoysia

This is the most versatile variety of Zoysia and is widely used in lawns throughout the country. It grows well in both sunny and shady conditions, has good drought resistance, and will tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Emerald Zoysia

This type of grass is a darker green than Meyer Zoysia but still has good shade tolerance and drought resistance. It does best in warmer climates with mild winters.

El Toro Zoysia

This type of grass is also known as “carpetgrass” due to its low, dense growth habit. It has excellent shade tolerance and drought resistance, making it an ideal choice for areas that do not receive much direct sunlight or get a lot of rain.

How to Grow Zoysia Grass

How to Grow Zoysia Grass

Once you have chosen the right type of zoysia grass for your lawn, it’s time to prepare the soil. Zoysia prefers well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (pH 6.0 to 7.0).

Test your soil’s pH level before planting and adjust accordingly if needed. Loosening the soil will also help improve drainage and allow for better root growth.

Types of Soil Best for Zoysia Grass

Sandy soil

Sandy soil is well-drained and is ideal for zoysia grass. It is easy to work with and can hold just enough moisture without becoming overly wet.

Clay soil

Clay soil has better water retention than sandy soil but still drains well enough for zoysia grass. It’s important to loosen the clay before planting by incorporating organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, into the top 6 inches of the soil (mix it in at a rate of 10 to 15 percent).

Preparing the Soil and Planting Area

Before you plant your zoysia grass, it is important to prepare the area properly. First, remove any weeds or debris from the site and make sure the area is level.

If you are planting on an existing lawn, remove old turfgrass with a sod cutter. If it’s a new lawn, mark out the area and use a rototiller to loosen up the soil.

Preparing soil to grow Zoysia grass

You may need to add in some soil amendments, such as compost or peat moss, to adjust the pH levels and improve drainage if needed. 

To prepare the soil for planting zoysia grass, first test the pH level and adjust if needed (ideally 6.0 to 7.0). Then, loosen the soil with a shovel or tiller so that it drains well and provides good air circulation for root growth.

Finally, mix in organic matter such as compost or peat moss at a rate of 10-15 percent to help retain moisture and reduce thatch buildup over time. Mowing regularly and aerating annually can also help keep thatch levels low. Once your soil is ready, you’re ready to plant!

Once the area is prepared, water it thoroughly before planting. This will help ensure that your seeds or plugs get off to a good start by giving them access to moisture immediately after planting. 

How to Plant Zoysia Grass

Now that the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant your zoysia grass. You can choose between planting seeds, plugs, or sod, depending on your preferences and budget.

Planting Zoysia Grass Using Seeds

If you decide to use seeds, spread them evenly over the prepared area according to package instructions. Then lightly rake the area with a flexible steel rake to help cover the seeds with some loose soil.

Water the area thoroughly after planting and keep it moist until germination occurs (this usually takes about two weeks).

Planting Zoysia Grass Using Plugs or Sods

Planting Zoysia Grass Using Sods

If you are using plugs or sod, water the prepared area before planting so that it is damp but not soaking wet. Then place plugs 6-12 inches apart in rows across the lawn, or unroll the sod in strips and press it firmly into the ground.

Water thoroughly after planting, making sure to keep the soil moist for several weeks as the roots of your zoysia grass establish themselves.

No matter what method you use, be sure to mow your grass regularly (about once a week) once it has reached 3 inches tall. This will help promote healthy growth and create an even-looking lawn.

You should also fertilize your zoysia grass twice a year – once during spring and again in late summer – to keep it looking its best.

Caring for Zoysia Grass

Watering Needs

Zoysia grass can tolerate drought, but it needs approximately 1 inch of water per week during the growing season in order to stay healthy. Water your zoysia grass deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and often.

If rain does not provide enough water for your lawn, supplement it with a sprinkler system or hose attachment on a timer.


Mowing Zoysia Grass

You should mow your zoysia grass at least once a week to keep it looking its best. When mowing, use a sharp blade set to the highest possible setting (about 3 inches) to avoid scalping the grass.

Scalping can weaken your lawn and make it prone to disease.

Fertilizing Zoysia Grass

You should fertilize your zoysia grass twice a year – once during spring and again in late summer. Use a slow-release fertilizer (ideally one specifically designed for zoysia grass) and apply according to package instructions.

Find out more about how to fertilize your grass and lawn through experts from a reputable lawn company.

Controlling Weeds

Weeds can invade your zoysia grass if left unchecked, so it is important to take steps to control weeds as soon as possible. Spot-treat any weeds that appear with an appropriate herbicide, or use a pre-emergent herbicide around the perimeter of your lawn to prevent new ones from taking root.

Additionally, consider planting clover or other legumes in the spaces between blades of zoysia grass to help outcompete weeds.

Thatch Buildup

Thatch buildup can be an issue with any type of turfgrass. To reduce thatch buildup, mow your lawn regularly and aerate the soil every year. When thatch becomes more than ½ inch thick, it should be manually removed with a rake or dethatcher.

Wrapping Up Our Zoysia Grass Guide

With proper care and maintenance, your zoysia grass can thrive for years! With its tolerance for drought and heat, it’s an ideal choice for warm climates or anyone looking for a low-maintenance lawn.

So get started today by preparing the area properly and planting some zoysia grass – you’ll be glad you did!

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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