Zoysia Grass. Is it a good thing or not?

Last updated : 24 February 2015

Zoysia Grass... is it good or bad? Read more to find out...

I wrote this article about Zoysia grass and sent it to my newsletter list.  Living in the north I truly am not much of an expert on Zoysia grass so I did a little research to write this article.  But once I sent the article I received feed back from my subsribers.  Some it very positive about Zoysia grass, so I’d like to share those comments with you.

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This is what I originally wrote.

That depends who you ask.  I know the advertisements for Zoysia grass make it sound absolutely wonderful, and some people who have purchased and planted it will you tell that it is.  But what many people don’t realize is that come fall, as early as October, it will turn golden brown and stay that way all winter.

I had a customer that used  Zoysia to fill it parts of his lawn and he loved it.  However, when I saw his yard during winter I thought somebody had sprayed half of his yard with weed killer.  It wasn’t just brown, it was golden brown!  I could have easily set it on fire. He didn’t mind that at all.  But I thought it looked ridiculous.   In a warmer zone it might have been different.

Zoysia does have good qualities.  It’s much more drought resistant than the cool season grasses that we are used to here in the north.  It grows quite well under hot and dry conditions.  Once established it fills in and makes a really nice, dense turf.  During the dog days of summer when our cool season grasses aren’t so green, Zoysia stays green and healthy.  Zoysia requires a lot less water than most other cool season grasses.

Downsides to Zoysia?

Our cool season grasses look good for about 10 months of the year.  Zoysia really only looks good from mid May through October.  Establishing Zoysia is no easy task because you can’t just spread seed like you do with cool season grasses.  You have to insert plugs and you first must get rid of all the existing grass and weeds before you plant the plugs.

Zoysia does not do well in the shade and once you have it in your lawn, it’s not easy to change your mind and get rid of it.  You can spray it with a non selective herbicide, but if you don’t want to do that, you’ll have a challenge on your hands.   I think have two concerns about Zoysia which is why I’d never use it in my lawn.

One, I wouldn’t want my lawn looking golden, golden brown all winter.  And two, unless you plant your entire lawn with Zoysia, it’s looks really odd because in winter and summer both, Zoysia is just a completely different grass than what you probably have now.

This is what others had to say.

Hello Mike,  I thank you for all of your great articles on yard care, I really appreciate the knowledge they contain.  Your article on Zoysia Grass was also nice to read, but I wish to respond to it.

I bought my home in Philadelphia in 1994.  When I bought my home, most of the back yard was Zoysia.  The areas that weren’t were partially shaded during the day.  At first I did not like it, even though walking on it was like a carpet from it being so thick.  It was first to die and last to come back each year.

I found that the weed protection it provides is far superior to other grasses.

Over the many years I have owned my home it has creeped  around to the front yard.  I do dislike the browning nature of the grass, but love the weed preventative nature of it.  My yard skirt is next to a busy road that gets exposed to a lot of road salt during the winters.  The grass in said skirt is always weed prone because of the poor soil quality.  Improving the soil is a losing battle, so I have planted patches of Zoysia throughout the runs next to the road.  Zoysia likes to creep and will overtake the weed prone skirts.

I have come to accept the dead nature of the grass during the cool months because it is so good at preventing weeds.  I really like not having to do much to keep the yard green during the summer without worrying about weeds.  All said, I like the nature of the grass even though it dies early and grows late each year.  Zoysia may be an ugly grass over much of the year but makes for an easy care lawn.  I hate having to battle weeds and Zoysia makes that battle a non issue.

Again, I wish to thank you for your efforts to expand the knowledge of gardening and lawn care.  -Phil

Thank you Phil from Philadelphia!  Interesting comments from somebody in the north who really appreciates some of the better qualities of Zoysia grass.

From Central Virginia

Hi Mike,    I enjoyed reading your article on Zoysia grass, but I respectfully disagree with one of the points.

I live in Central Virginia. For the last few summers we have had limited rainfall in the summer. Consequently, the fescue (in full sun) goes dormant in July and doesn’t recover until late Sept-Early Oct when we begin our Sept-Oct-Nov fertilizing. Even with irrigation, one cannot water enough to keep the fescue from going dormant. So the question here is when do you want to have your grass look brown? During the peak summer months (fescue) or with the first frost (zoysia)?

Best regards, Chris

Thank you Chris from Virginia!  It is interesting to hear from people in cold climates with positive comments about Zoysia grass.  As I said in my article my customer here in Ohio loved his Zoysia grass.


Kathy, from Illinois

RE: zoysia grass.

We have an acre of it and we love it!  Zone 6a IL.

More PRO points you might want to add to a future article:

*It requires about 1/3 the mowing as any other turf grass. *It feels like a thick plush carpet when you walk on it. People always remark on how good it feels. *If you have dogs or active children, they won’t wear bare spots in it. *It chokes out weeds.  Less weedkiller needed.  Less fertilizer needed. Better for the environment. *If you mow it very short in early spring, it greens up faster.  Use the cuttings to mulch the vegetable garden. *You do not need to kill existing grass to start plugs of zoysia.  It will soon out-compete what’s there. *We think of the golden brown dormant color as the color of money saved on water, weedkiller, gasoline and mowing time.   CONS *It creeps into flower beds.  But it’s easy to pull out and you can use the pieces to fill in bare spots.   Thanks for listening!  I enjoy your articles.   Kathy from Illinois

Thank you Kathy!  More interesting and informative comments from somebody in the north.


From Karen in Georgia

Hi, Mike! Very interesting article on zoysia grass.

Here’s an opinion from a southerner (Atlanta suburb):

We laid zoysia sod around 4 years ago in our backyard. The front yards in the subdivision were all sodded with bermuda. We hate our bermuda grass! So we’ve LOVED the dense barefoot carpet-like zoysia in the back (also, weeds don’t grow thru zoysia as they do thru the thin bermuda).

Yes, it turns brown in the winter, but then so does the bermuda (and in fact, most yards in the Atlanta area ARE warm-season grasses for the reasons you mentioned, so it’s not odd-looking as it is to you from the north).

When we laid our zoysia in the back, we couldn’t afford to do the entire yard in zoysia, so we had to lay some bermuda along the edges. We’d been told that while bermuda is more aggressive, the zoysia will eventually win out, because it’s denser and will choke out the bermuda.  Now 4 years later, I can say that it seems to be true–our zoysia is slowly, very slowly, taking over the bermuda, much to our delight!

So here’s one zoysia lawn lover who would do it all over again, if I had to choose between zoysia and bermuda!

I enjoy your newsletters! thanks . . .

Karen in Flowery Branch, GA

Thank you Karen from Georgia!  I was getting so many positive comments from people in the north I was hoping to hear from somebody from the south.  I’ve seen Bermuda grass and I did not like it all so I can see why you’d be so happy with Zoysia grass.

This has been interesting, educational and enlightening for me thanks to my dedicated and loyal subscribers!

I love you guys and gals!  -Mike McGroarty

I really hope you consider my Backyard Growing System
and join our Backyard Growing Family. 




    • Sheila says

      I wonder if we could sow winter rye in the months the zoysia is at its golden best. Would this not green things up a bit?. Am writing from Jacksonville Fl..

      • chuck says

        We live in Gloucester Va. Our retired nieghbors have a manicured lawn of fescue. I had an acetic lawn of pine debris which I plugged with zoysia. Its been 4 years but the zoysia is claiming every bare spot and slowly taking over everything. What a blessing for someone who doesn’spend every waking hour nurturing his lawn. I am slowly developing a beautiful lawn with a fraction of the time , effort and cost.

  1. Teri Guntert says

    A few warnings from One who as had it and chose to get rid of it: The Zoysia I had came in off of a couple of small plants that I traded for without my knowledge. I left it alone over the years and allowed it to grow and take over my yard and it is most everthing that the Defenders of the grass share. However,:

    I found myself on my hands and knees for hours pulling this stuff out from invading my planters 2-3 times each season. Therefore I would not recommend this grass for sculptured lawns with numerous gardens/planter areas. It will sufficate other grasses and plants, grow up into shrubs and down in and around their root systems which makes the job of getting it our more difficult and time consuming.
    Also, it is no repsector of space and places when it gets into the neighbors yards where we paid for the removal of our neighbors and planted new grass for them as well. I see other yards where this grass continues to invade and they are constantly battleing this grass seasonally.
    I have used stone lining of one sort or another to baracade the grass but the runner will go deep and come up on the other side. It is virtually unstoppable and very difficult to rid of once it is started. We had to get out and look for the brown areas when the Spring or Fall grasses began to change colors, get down on the knees and begin to dig, even two years after spraying Round Up (of which I hate with a passion but had no other recourse). Round up has to be applied in the late summer season when the grass is in it’s peak growth season and we had to spray 2 and 3 times to get 96%. The areas not affected were the live runners that were still surviving underground.
    This grass, while keeps the maintenance of weeding to a minimum makes up for the nuisance of it’s runners and keeps maintenance on a high level.
    So in closing, I would caution those thinking about growing this, unless you live in the country where the grass will not affect your neighbors or you would prefer to enjoy your gardens and plantings rather than spend more hours in maintenance in destroying what will destroy your peace of mind and gardens. Please think of your neighbors if you live in neighborhoods.

    • says

      Your input is appreciated. It seems that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that love their Zoysia, and those that can’t stand it. This has by far been one of the most interesting articles that I’ve written as far as strong feedback.

  2. Phyllis Churchill says

    OMG I Love Zoysia! I am in Central Florida, and we in Volusia county have HORRID water restrictions, and Stepped Water charges ( the more you use the MORE it costs) and there is NO relief as the city OWNS the water company. Zoysia is wonderful to walk on, stays green,and doesn’t need a lot of water like St Augustine or others.
    I am gradually changing my lawn over ( it takes time and is not cheap to do) but worth EVERY Penny ( or dollar bill) LOL

    • Carrie says

      Hi Phyliss, we live in Orlando and are going to need to do something to our front yard lawn. Can you tell me, even in Florida does the zoysia grass turn “Golden Brown” in the winter??? I love what I have read about this grass, but there are no posts from Floridians who deal with summer all year round…

  3. Frank says

    A good friend of mine has a zoysia lawn. Its beautiful! He really loves it. It took him years to get it all thru his yard but it was well worth it. I have started some in my yard but for me to buy enough plugs from zoysia to do my whole yard I’d have to take out a morgage(LOL). So I have started it in some parts of my yard and will keep trying to transplant it to other parts. My opinion is its a thumbs up!!!

    • John Morgan says

      The answer is to buy enough to sprig a 20 X20 area, or so, and in a couple of years you will have enough to do the entire yard.
      Yes.. Sprigs work and take far less to create a lawn.

      I just slide a shovel under the turf and peel up the sod. Then I pull it apart with my hands to get long sprigs or clumps of sprigs. Then with a flat blade I just make a slit, place the sprig in and step on it or close it in some way. Then water so it doesn’t dry out.

  4. Sara says

    I live in NE Utah and am thinking of planting zoysia between my raised vegetable beds. I have spent the last five years building beds to get away from the bindweed and other tenacious weeds that always took over my garden regardless of how much I weeded. Now the areas between my beds beg for a grass but I worry about it spreading into the vegetables. Do the roots go very deep because I have found that bindweed will go to the bowels of the earth in order to get into my beds. I have an organic yard so I would not be able to spray weed killers. I use a mulching system to kill weeds.

    • Frank says

      It has runners, so to speak. It loves to get established in clear open areas(where no grass is, bare open spots). It will even travel over the curb into the street, but it can’t root no where so it stops at the road/curb. Check your local garden center for organic weed control products, they should have them.

  5. Gina says

    From Southern California

    Zoysia doesn’t go dormant here in the winter, and it’s tough getting shaded areas green during the summer time with Bermuda. Zoysia is great for side yards, where it’s shaded most of the day. Looks wonderful mounding around stepping stones! And it can survive on drip around the palm trees :)

  6. Albert Blight says

    Grass and weeds are here from early April till the end of November, then the lawns are white until the end of March here in Southern Minnesota

  7. Ron Rawlston says

    I tried it some 30 years ago—- not one plug survived.
    You had better have acidic soil or it will not make it. Out west wheer we have so much alkaline soil it is not even possible to grow it.

      • Karen says

        Thank you for that. I’m in FW & am planning on zoysia & wondered. If the landscaper ever gets here. I had it for years in Nashville & it was gorgeous.

        • Anonymous says

          Hello Karen,

          I seeded my yard in North Richlands Hills with Zenith zoysia this year. It has come in nicely and looks very good. I don’t know about water yet as it does needed it to become established.



  8. Jan Wiltzius says

    We tried it and it was awful. Would never try it again. It was expensive and it didn’t take, I live in Wisconsin.

  9. Stephen Booker says


    To answer your question to Mike:
    Just as a natural forest undergrowth burn, ground cover of any kind thrives on an occasional torching, providing carbon
    and other nutritional chemicals and doing other fancy stuff
    to the soil. That’s my experience and my story and I’m
    sticking with it.
    Burning is not an option in most metropolitan areas, like Atlanta, where burning law seasons are strictly enforced.
    By the time it’s time to burn, it’s too late.

  10. Chip says

    Just wanted to say thanks for the article and to all that commented. I’ve been studying three lawn books and digging through the internet trying to decide on a new grass to put in. I was leaning toward Zoysia and in searching for info came across this page.
    Again thanks for all the insight, I bookmarked it to share with my wife.

  11. Mark from NC says

    We live in North Carolina. My father-n-law, Bill bought some Zoysia plugs from a mail order catalog. When the box came it was basically four pieces of Dead brown sod with cut perforations. I told him that he got ripped off. He still took the time and plugged his entire front yard. I thought he was crazy. But I am here to tell you, it took two full seasons and his yard looks Awesome. The Zoysia took over! I mean everything.
    Choked out all weeds and old grass. He never waters it or fertilizes it!
    Meanwhile, I am next store to him spending money on weed-n-feed chemicals, fertilizers, bags of seed every year and my yard still doesn’t look as good as his… soooooo, I had enough, My family decided to killed our entire front yard with roundup. We brought in two loads of top soil and 7 pallets of Zoysia. I can’t believe how beautiful this grass looks and We just layed the sod yesterday. 7-25-12 I will let you know how it goes and grows.

  12. Brisa Cat says

    I sent away for enough Zoysia to plug two acres. It arrived packed in a cardboard box. Whe I opened the box, it was dry dirt and dead Zoysia. Wrote the company and never heard back from them. So, I cannot recommend the company because of their lack of customer service; I also cannot recommen the Zoysia because I never got to plant the plugs.

    • muggyy says

      The pallets were dormant due to lack of water. Place them in the shade and water several times a day for two days and they wil be ready for plugging.

  13. shawn Walker says

    Empire zoysia grows very well in SW florida once it is established. I installed sod because grows very slow and suppliment with Ironite 2 times a year.

  14. Heidi T. says

    I live in Austin, TX. After the endless years of drought and our yard looking hopeless, we’ve looked into relandscaping with Zoysia. Does anyone know how long it takes for the plugs to fill in, or should I lay Zoysia sod? I recently noticed the sod squares being sold here at Home Depot.

  15. Ray says

    I have no idea what grasses I have in my front yard. I live in SE Missouri, almost in the bootheel. I would love to rid my front yard which is about 7000sq feet, could someone tell me how many “plugs” of Zoysia and how far apart and about how long it would take to crowd out all the other stuff? Oh and I also have grubs too, so I suppose first on my list would be to get rid of them.

  16. Tom says

    I’m curious about the use of the winter rye while the zoysia is dormant. Does it act as a “green manure crop” as it does in the vegetable garden? I’ve tried that a couple of times and it fixes nitrogen in the garden soil. So does it help out the zoysia? Also, I’ve got a big patch – but it doesn’t want to spread – any thoughts?

    • Gina says

      Rye doesn’t fix nitrogen, but it uses up a ton of it. When you till it in then it releases what’s left. Will do the same thing for Zoysia, but Zoysia doesn’t need much nitrogen so you’d be wasting your time.

      As for the bare patch, flush it really well with water (to leech out anything that may be stopping the spread) and take a chunk from your zoysia that’s growing, plant it in the bare spot.

  17. Linda J says

    We have a fairly small front yard with mostly weeds & some spots of bermuda. It is on the north side & can get pretty shady near the porch, but it does get sun in the places without beds [one maple has a mulched bed under the drip line]. Does anyone know if we use a post-emergent on the weeds, could we plug in zoysia & how soon? Would like to try it in this part of yard. In 7b No MS zone. Thanks for any help anyone might post.

  18. Mike says


    I just wanted to say I am a Zoysia FAN here in the South (Atlanta). I bought my home 5 years ago and the front lawn was a mix of fescue and weeds. I hired a lawn service to keep it maintained and they were here faithfully every week to mow the weeds and grass. Finally I decided to invest in the yard and had it fully relandscaped. The landscaper suggested Zoysia sod so that’s what I went with and I have the best looking yard in the neighborhood now!

    With the prevsious lawn I was spending about $55 dollars a week on keeping it maintained during the summer, probably starting around March. So for about 9 months out of the year it costed me approximatly $2,000 dollars for the upkeep. Now, with the Zoysia it only has to be mowed maybe ONCE a month and watered about once a week, if that. I have literally saved myself about $1700 dollars just in maintainance.

    Winter Rye is the solution to the golden brown lawn in the winter months. It’s easy to spread the seed and in about a week you have a green lawn that is beautiful throughout the winter.

    In the end Zoysia is a great option for folks that want to SAVE a lot of money on their lawns and still have the best looking yard in the neighborhood year round.

    The solution for me for having my Zoysia creep into my neighbors yard was to have a mulch bed installed all the way around the perimeter of my front lawn. It’s approximately 2 feet wide, maybe a little wider, and all I have to do is keep the mulch maintained and it keeps out the weeds and the Zoysia is easy to control to keep it from invading into the neighbor’s yards. The landscaper added that into the landscape plan without me knowing it and it looks awesome and it’s something you rarely see done in landscaping here in the South.

    One more thing…I know you love the Japanese Red Maple trees, as do I, so I wanted to tell you about one called the Sango Kaku or the Coral Bark Japanese Maple. I am not sure about their hardiness where you live because I have read many blogs of complaints from folks up in the Northern areas saying that their trees died after a year, etc. Either way, they are beautiful specimen trees with, as the name suggests, coral red bark and beautiful green leaves. The contrast of the colors is magnificent. I took some cuttings from the one I have currently and am propagating more of them to add to my landscape and/or sell. They are one of the lesser expensive varieties to purchase being around $25 dollars or so.

    Thanks for all your information that you share. It’s much appreciated!


    • says

      Mike, I’ve got a Sango Kaku Japanese Maple in my landscape. It’s small, been there a few years. Most people that lose maples lose them to wet soil or too much fertilizer. Most winter pretty well until it gets really harsh.

    • Wende says

      Mike, We planted Zoysia sod in the spring. Now it is time to over seed. What do you suggest? We have two dogs and the zoysia is thinning in places. Five oaks make for a lot of leaves on the grass right now too. Should I rake it next weekend and spread Rye all over the lawn? Confused as to how to maintain this investment….

      • says


        If you want Zoysia lawn I don’t think I would introduce any other seed into the lawn. If you keep the weeds out and the zoysia healthy and happy it will fill in by itself.

  19. Christi says

    We’ve had zoysia for many, many years in our yard and the dormant coloration is really rather pretty! At least it’s consistent where the zoysia has taken over the yard.

    Live in Indianapolis, IN and Father got onto the zoysia bandwagen early on. We have 5 acres and most of it is now “zoysia-ed” and makes for a great lawn. Even the deer come to graze on it sometimes. Better that than my roses! LOL Glad to have the zoysia and thinking I need to plug it into the dog yard. Muddy rim there.

    Appreciate all the tips and info you put out there, Mike. Put us in the “love it” column for zoysia.

  20. Marilu says

    Hi, Mike,
    What do I do when I am re-sodding my yard to prepare the soil in the best way to get a good start for it? I had grubs last year that overtook my yard, and now I have had the old sod removed and have brought in new topsoil. What should I use in the soil before putting down the new sod? Thanks!

    • says


      What I would do is get a lawn spraying company to put your new lawn on a 6 month application schedule this year and make sure they treat for grubs. Grub treatment has to be timed so the application is done after the beetles lay their eggs and the grubs are still near the surface of the soil. Treating too early won’t work because the grubs burrow deeper for the winter.

      • says

        I agree with Mike.

        When my parents bought there new home it wasn’t even finished. Mom, being the ‘yard lover’ immediately set up an account with Lawn Doctor to care for the lawn as soon as it was installed. After 12 years, it is still the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.

        I do have a question though. Is there a risk for “too much chemical” with an ongoing lawn service?

  21. David says

    I usually put winter rye in over the summer. Would the rye grow alright with the zoysia? I’m tired of dealing with the bermuda…

    • says

      David, from what I’ve learned writing this article I think you need to do all you can to make the Zoysia healthy and happy and it will crowd out the Bermuda. I’m thinking the rye will shade the zoysia too much and compound your problem.

  22. L D says

    I live in North Central Texas (north of Dallas) and the only problem I have with my patch of zoysia out front is that it grows too s-l-o-w-l-y. Seems like it’s taking forever to spread to the entire front lawn. Oh, and it costs about 1 and 1/2 times as much as St. Augustine sod, which is the grass of choice for most people in this area. I don’t like St. Augustine’s broad blades and the fact that it has no rhizomes (only stolens), which means a hard extended freeze will kill it dead, never to return. St. Augustine grass also requires a lot of water.

    I LOVE the fact that zoysia requires almost no watering, only needs mowing about twice a summer and chokes out all weeds in its path. It also feels GREAT underfoot.

    I have nine acres, most of which is johnson grass which a neighbor farmer cuts and bales twice a year, but I also have a stand of buffalo grass which also requires no water at all, and grows very slowly. Unfortunately, buffalo grass will not tolerate ANY shade at all, while the zoysia is fine with shade. In fact, it grows best right under my big sycamore tree.

    Bottom line: I LOVE my zoysia grass, and wish I could afford to plant an entire acre in it.

    • Jerry says

      LD.. I just recently returned to Canada from a two week vacation in Orlando. The condo we rented, had a very ‘thick lawn’..felt strange to walk on as it was ‘so cushiony’ ? Is that a word ? I was interested in the grass type..never have seen Bermuday, St. Augustine or Zoysia grass before, so not sure what it was ! Very ‘thick bladed’, almost like our crab grass in Canada..and a lot of browner stuff underneath ! Any ideas what it could have been ? We grow only Rye/Fescue in these parts, so not sure if Zoysia would even work above the 49th !

      • Dallas says

        That is St. Augustine grass, the most common choice in Florida since it tolerates the intense sun and heat as well as many bugs. It requires a lot of water and poses a serious threat to Florida’s water supply. St. Augustine often forms a thick mat, almost like walking on a mattress, that I find unappealing. It is also very coarse and woody. I favor Zoysia for Florida now that it comes in several new cultivars suitable for our climate.

    • Mrs Margie says

      Will Zoysia grow in the shade in Georgia? I have a couple of large shade trees in my front yard that is completely bare and ugly. We have been trying to find out if Zoysia would grow under shade trees?

    • says

      Dennis, before I wrote this article I was not a big fan of Zoysia and only had limited exposure with it. But through this process I found a lot of people who absolutely love their Zoysia grass. So I’m curious, what part of the country are you in?

  23. Dale Moran says

    Hi Suzanne

    I live in central Florida and I sodded an area locked in between a sidewalk and flower bed with zoysia a few years ago. The first year it looked kind of rough and I wasn’t sure I would like it, but once it got established it became a beautiful thick lush green lawn that is awesome to walk on. It took a little time, but it looks great now. My lawn is quite large and didn’t want to spend the money until I tested it first. I still haven’t sodded the whole yard, but i’ve been sodded an area around my pool and i’ve been playing around with plugging underneath a large oak that I can couldn’t get anything to grow under. It seem to be promising. It definitely one grows well in the direct heat of Florida and is looking like it’s going to work in the shade. I love it.

  24. Warren K. Smith says

    Hi Mike,

    We appreciate all your garden news here at our condo in Bradenton- even though the condo people don’t allow much choice in plants!

    Warren Smith

  25. Mark R. McHose says

    I have a lot of experience with Zoysia. I think it works great in high traffic areas.. it loves to be walked on and will stay low and not mound. however if there are any rocks or other hard surfaces under/in your soil it will mound up… badly…will do the same on steep slopes/grades. 2x a year I use a sod/carpet knife and have to edge the all the Zoysia. I’ve used weed barrier and even ones that have herbicide nibs on them… doesn’t matter..it will spread. Disney has a type that I haven’t seen available in nurseries but it’s taller and has a wider “blade”..not as stiff.. It looks a lot more like the grasses people are used to. I will contact them and hopefully get more info.

  26. Nancy says

    Aboout the zoysia grass. We live in the upper part of SC and last year sodded our entire lawn with zoysia. (We had tried centipede, which does fine in the lower part of the state but not so well here where it is cooler.) Yes, it turns golden brown in the winter here, but not until around Thanksgiving, and now in March it is starting to green up again. We love this grassl It is like a lush carpet. And in the south, we are accustomed to brown grass in the winter, as all warm season grasses go dormant then. Fescue might be good for the north, but I hate it! In the summer it becomes sparse and brown, and all you see is clumps with lots of bare ground between. So ugly! I much prefer zoysia’s golden winter carpet (which I consider quite pretty) to the sparse green/brown clumps of cool-season grasses in the summer. Besides, once zoysia is established, it is very low-maintenance. Not much mowing or weeding, and no re-seeding. I suppose a lot depends on where you live and what you are accustomed to.

  27. Rosey & Vee says

    We are looking for the best grass for cattle
    we know about white/Red clover, can someone subject a good grass to help our cattle grow, and give them the vitamins they will need.

  28. Ben Hadley says

    I still say there is no difference in Zoysia and Bermuda. The look the same and turn brown the same.

    They are both intrusive weeds and must be dealt with with weed killer.

    • Neal says

      Zoysia is much thicker, like carpet. Burmuda grows faster, but is much thinner. Zoysia is definetly better looking, and chokes out weeds.

      • Mrs Margie says

        I have Zoysia in my back yard around my pool that I got from my neighbor (growing over their driveway) It has spread beautifully and we love it. However I have some big patches of fescue and clover that I can’t seem to get rid of. The Zoysia is not choking it out and I am told since Zoysia is an ornamental grass to use weed and feed will kill it. I hate the fescue and clover and don’t know how to get rid of it without killing my Zoysia grass. Desperate for help in Dallas, Georgia

        • says

          I’d have to say that you are going to have to get rid of the fescue and clover then allow the zoysia to move in or plant more plugs.

  29. Betty Raiford says

    I really enjoyed your article and the comments from readers regarding Zoysia grass. This was something I had just been wondering if I would like in my yard. The answers I’ve seen so far don’t completely answer my questions. I have a yard that is mixed with a lot of different grass and weed varieties. My biggest nemesis is the bermuda grass, closely seconded by burr clover. Those two I’m trying desperately to get rid of… or at least get them under control so they aren’t choking out everything else I want to plant. I need to know how quickly the Zoysia spreads and how much of a problem it will be if planted near my vegetables. My backyard is going to be mostly vegetables and flowers around the edges with a patch of some sort of green grass or low groundcover in the center. I need something that is fairly controllable and that will stand up to children.

  30. Suzanne Lederer says

    My dog tears up our existing lawn (just fetching ball!) here in Pennsylvania and it’s a lot of work to try to make it look good. I have walked on Zoysia grass and have to agree it feels wonderful underfoot while eliminating weeds.
    I am moving to Florida and would love this kind of lush Zoysia grass. I’d like it at my new home. Anyone know if it grows in Southwest Florida?
    Thanks, Mike!

    Florida Bound,

  31. Charles says

    Mike, I plugged my 3 acres in zoysia grass about 10 years ago. I have the most beautiful lawn in the area. I have never fertilized it dumped ant chemical on it nor watered it. It is the softest grass in the world to walk on. My dogs love it and the local deer sneak into my yard to sleep on it. My nice green lawn becomes golden brown each winter and it is still more beautiful than my neighbors multi colored chemical polluted grasses.

  32. Ed Fillmore says

    My in-laws had Zoysia in Northern Virginia. Yes, brown in winter, But very easy to care for. I live in Colorado. I have heard that Zoysia does not grow well in the mountain west. Is that true? Any experiences from westerners?

  33. Hans Gruetzenbach says

    Has any one ever tried over seeding Zoysia with annual Rye so that you have a green lawn during the winter?
    From Dalton GA.
    A little South of Chatt. Tn.

    • Carol says

      Yes, that’s what we do every year in College Station, TX. We live in a neighborhood that has lots 3-10 acres. Most use St. Augustine or whatever grows naturally, but we have the Zoysia with wider blades (Palisades)and it is the prettiest and greenest yard of all. While everyone else has brown yards in the winter, we just sow rye and it’s great. It dies out when it gets hot, about the time the Zoysa is recovering. Although, I must say that this mild winter left even the Zoysia mosty green.

      • brad says

        hi carol,

        i live in austin and planted zoysia a couple of years back right before the awful never ending summer we experienced. the zoysia limped along and after last summer is doing pretty well. thinking about doing some plugs in barren areas, etc. this year to fill in. anyway, wondering which variety of rye grass you use and if it in anyway seems to impede the zoysia? love to have a green lawn in winter.


  34. Tom Willard says

    I live in Eastern Kansas, summers hot and dry. I have a neighbor whose lawn is nothing but bermuda and other weeds. My fescue lawn is beautiful and I have been fighting a loosing battle getting rid of bermuda that keeps creeping in. I am now planting a Red Barberry hedge in hopes it will be a barrier. Sure fescue will go dormant when you have a drought. I don’t water mine but do keep it fertilized and usually even here in Kansas I have green grass YEAR ROUND! Lordy but I DO HATE BERMUDA. Zoysia is the same, BROWN, BROWN, FOR MONTHS. I’ll stick with good green fescue!

  35. says

    Mike …

    Where you live makes a big difference it seems. Here in Mississippi, I know of several Zoysia lawns that always look better than other grasses and actually stay green longer. Perhaps it’s the variety that matters as well.

    The only drawback I see to Zoysia is the need to lay a barrier between the Zoysia lawn and the neighbors. Unless, of course, they don’t mind changing their grass. :)

  36. Lynne says

    Hello Mike,
    I enjoy your articles and thought I’d put my two cents in from the West. I live in Central California, where we don’t have freezing winters, and pretty even climate. I planted Zoysia grass around my mobile home year before last, and it’s now filling in nicely. I haven’t seen it get brown at all, even with periods of no rain. Perhaps the “browning-up” of the Zoysia in other parts of the country is due to freezing and not lack of rain. So far, so good, and I’m glad I planted it.

  37. Rick Freiberger says


    I was driving home,and noted people burning their grass off around their home. I believe this grass to be Zoysia Grass. Can this be true and if so what is the purpose of them doing this.


    • AnnieStraw says

      I think it is pretty common practice to burn off grass… You get a fresh start and the ashes are great fertilizer…. I burn my pastures off every couple of years… the grass comes back extra green!

  38. Joyce Gibson says

    Hi Mike,
    when I lived in Southern California, Pasadena area, I had Zoysia in my front yard. I watered regularly, unfortunately, I had all sorts of things growing in my lawn, from spearmint (which I didn’t mind) to dandelions and little weeds with yellow flowers, which I did mind because it was overtaking the grass.

  39. Rick says

    over 20yrs.ago my wife and I planted Zoysia plugs in our existing grass. After it established itself, we are loving it. Watering is not an issue and neither are weeds. Color change doesnt matter to me. Where I used to live (kansas)all grass went dormant in the fall so it is no big deal for us. Con if you do not have a self propelled mower you will definitly get stronger legs and upper body.

    • Neal says

      Rick, you are so right, we put down emerald zoysia in June. The yard looks great, but will definitely give you a work out. Like pushing the mower throug sand. GET A SELF PROPELLED.

  40. Jeri says

    Mike, CHiming in from St. Louis Suburbia 5a/6 we love our zoysia above all others. Zoysia withstands our German Shepherds trampling, requires less mowing, zero weed killer (I pull the occasional weed if necessary.. or harvest lol), minimal (zero) watering and doesn’t require traditional commercial chemical fertilizers. It simply THRIVES if left to do it’s own thing with zero human interference except the occasional mow…. half what our neighbors require with tall fescues which always need overseeding. Not so with zoysia.

    We noticed as long as the worms under the zoysia are happy, our zoysia remains happy. I sprinkle dried used coffee grounds throughout the zoysia, preferably just before a steady rain washes it into the soil or just after a mowing. The coffee grounds are “payment” to the worms for tilling the soil and feeding the zoysia.

    A few years ago we had to remove some soil from a slope area to make the watershed wider. We tried seeding but the seed always washed. Zoysia to the rescue – in relative quick fashion it quickly crept in from the surrounding patch filling in the small hillside throughly.

    So all in all zoysia is a time saver, an energy saver, a water saver, good for the environment and good for the household budget! That’s a winner!

    • Jeri says

      Mike, In response to the initial cost of zoysia, since at the time I was a single female homeowner at the young age of 22, I too could not afford to sod my entire yard in zoysia. Instead I bought 3 sections of sod (what I could afford at a time) and cut the sections into my own custom plugs. To make it really easy, I lay the sod strip down, took a sod plug tool (round) and used it to cut plugs. I left ample enough gaps between plugs so I still had a valid strip of sod with many round holes. I placed the sod as usual, then used my new custom plugs throughout the yard as customary for zoysia. Once my sod was established it quickly filled in the round holes (where I had placed the “regular grass plugs” from the yard) allowing me plenty of zoysia from which to nab more plugs. This could be done at even less cost if a generous neighbor or friend allowed some plugs to be “borrowed” initially, or offered to weed their zoysia creeping into flower beds…. us zoysia people always have extra zoysia we dont need! Lol. Anyway I now have ample zoysia for the initial investment of a zoysia plug tool and 3 strips of zoysia. So for those of us on a tight budget, zoysia is still an option.

    • Anonymous says

      worst grass to plant in georgia everyone has bermuda grass and it looks horrible when dormant even worse the backwards landscapers dont know anything about the grass coloring so you are left looking stupid when your neighbors say what happened to the grass

  41. Elayne Green says

    Mike, I now live in Brigham City, Utah. Maybe about 40 yrs. ago our family lived in Tucson Arizona. Hot, Hot… We had beautiful green lawn year round. Our yard was planted in zoysia, and yes it turned brown in the fall. My husband would spread, I believe it was rye grasss seed over the top of the existing zoysia in the fall. The rye came up quickly and stayed green until spring. Then the zoysia again took over. We always had a nice yard.

  42. Karen says

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the update. I was one of the people who posted saying I loved my zoysia. Its nice to see you actually read what we take time to write. Keep up the helpful info…much appreciated.

  43. Carl Bradley says

    I am a zoysia fan and my wife is not. I had portions of my yard like between mine and the neighbor’s drives that I have literally spent hundreds of dollars on grass seed over the years to no avail. We here in NC are on the cusp so to speak with an overwhelming percentage of lawns in cool season grass such as fescue. Fescue looks good during the cool seasons but as soon as the heat kicks in with added drought, the fescue turns brown, dies and allows the crabgrass to flourish. I plugged in zoysia in the area I mentioned and it has not only covered it with dense grass, it has not allowed weeds or crabgrass there. My only mistake was taking some across the drive into the main body of the lawn because as I said, my wife hates the cold season browning. However, I can put up with some complaints for the savings in maintenance. Once it all gets covered with zoysia then there won\t be the what she refers to as ‘neon brown spots’ it will at least have grass instead of weeds which turn brown in winter too.
    My recommendation would be if you just have to have green grass to mow until December, overseed with annual rye and let nature take its course.
    Thanks for the article.
    Zoysia Advocate

  44. Stephanie says

    Another “northerner for zoysia”! I have to say, its good qualities (superior weed control, no watering required, tough as nails, infrequent mowing) far, FAR win out over an extra month of dormancy. I do not use chemicals in my yard, and I’m a lazy gardener, and find it nearly impossible to keep my back yard (no zoysia…yet) as more grass than weeds. The zoysia practically takes care of itself, and it is much more environmentally friendly than a cool-season lawn. The only down side is, if you have any shade at all, the cool season grasses will take over, which tends to look patchy in the spring and fall. Doesn’t bother me a bit;-)

  45. Donna says

    In Philly. My whole yard is zoysia. Love it. Who cares if it’s brown in winter. So is everything else. NO WEEDS EVER!

  46. Karen says

    Living in SE Tennessee, we are hot and dry in the summer and have a short winter, usually without snow. We have neighbors with Zoysia as well as neighbors with Fescue. Zoysia is beautiful in the summer when the Fescue is dormant. The Fescuse is beautiful September through June. The biggest problem that must be considered when using Zoysia is fire when it is dormant. During the last two springs, when neighbors were cleaning up their yards they had small fires which they were tending. A single spark can ignite dormant Zoysia and it spreads litterally like wild fire. You cannot put it out with rakes – you must use water. In both cases, the neighbors were tending the fires and being careful. Luckily other neighbors and the fire department were able to put the fires out without burning down buildings. Fire is the main reason we will not use Zoysia.

  47. Jim Biddle says

    Mike – I’m a retired microbiologist working for my son, Atlanta. Grass in the South: fescue dies out in summer and must be overseeded every fall, only option in shade; Bermuda (below the fall line (Augusta – Columbus)invasive, tolerates sandy soil, sun; centipede more shade tolerant; St. Augustine less cold tolerant; zoysia strains that are more shade tolerant available, one can be seeded.

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