When to plant zoysia?

Straight From the Orient The Amazing Zoysia Grass

Zoysiagrass, often spelled zoysia grass, originated in the Japan and was brought to the U.S. in the late 1800’s. Commonly called zoysia for short, it is popular throughout the transition zone and is often viewed as a status symbol for home lawns. There are three major species: Z. japonica, Z. matrella and Z. tenuifolia.

Between the adaptation ranges of the three major species, zoysia has one of the broadest growth ranges of any warm season grass. Some varieties can survive the hot, humid climates of the deep south, while others can be found up to the Canadian border.

The Z. japonica variety can survive the severe winters of the northern states without injury. However, in the northern ranges, the growing season is so short that it may be dormant for half the year. Click here to see a

map of the turfgrass adaptation zones.

In the transition zone, Zoysia is a favorite on fairways, sports fields, and other high traffic areas. This is because zoysia is one of the toughest grasses out there and can withstand a lot of punishment. It spreads by the production of rhizomes and stolons which allows it to fill in damaged areas. For more helpful information on how grass grows, see the page on Plant Structure.

Another advantage is that Zoysia grass also has one of the lowest nitrogen requirements of any turf species. When you consider the cost of fertilization, this makes zoysia very appealing to large sports organizations. It is also much better for the environment since it requires less nutrients and less weed control in summer.

Other major benefits of this grass is its excellent drought and salt tolerance.

The Three Primary Species of Zoysia Grass

Z. japonica is still one of the most common varieties of zoysia. This is the variety that was originally introduced to the U.S. It has exceptional cold tolerance and can be started from seed. Z. japonica doesn’t do well in the southern U.S., so its southern range stops somewhere in the middle of the transition zone.

Z. matrella came to the U.S. from Manila in the Philippines. Obviously, this grass can tolerate year long, hot, humid weather. In the U.S., it is primarily a southern grass. It forms a solidly thick turf and has finer blades than japonica. It cannot be started from seed, so it must be started vegetatively from sod or plugs.

Z. tenuifolia is a beautiful grass with the finest blades of all zoysia varieties. The downside is that is also has the lowest cold tolerance of all zoysia grass varieties. Researches have tried to boost the cold rating by crossing tenuifolia with japonica. The result is a fine textured grass with decent cold tolerance. The name given to this variety is Z. emerald and is a favorite among homeowners.

Some notes about planting zoysia

The popular varieties will usually be a cross of one or more the the three main grasses. Starting a zoysia grass lawn from seed is a slow process, much slower than starting other grasses from seed. Even if you are using zoysia grass plugs, the rate of establishment can be quite slow.

There are a number of cultivars that have been released in recent years. One of the most popular cultivars is meyer Zoysia, also called Z-52. The meyer variety is an improved variety of Z. japonica. Meyer does well in colder climates north of the transition zone. It has a medium green color with leaf texture about in the middle of the three main varieties. It can also handle partial shade. It must be started vegetatively.

A Special Note About Z. Meyer

You may have seen in newspapers and magazines, some years ago, an advertisement for a “super” lawn grass. Many claims were made about it, such as, being almost fool proof, easy to care for and able to grow anywhere. “Just plant the grass plugs, and soon, you will have a beautiful, indestructible lawn”. What they were selling was meyer zoysia grass plugs. Although meyer is a good variety, but it not the magical super grass the ads promised and had no mention of its preferred adaptation range or any negative characteristics. Some company made millions off that ad. I don’t know if the homeowners were satisfied or not.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Zoysia Grass

Advantages of Zoysia grass

All the zoysia grass varieties will either be a primary species or a hybrid of one or more of the three primary species. Since they all have different cold tolerances, textures, and speed of establishment, it is best to check with your local extension office to see which ones have the greatest success in your specific area.

Zoysia is a beautiful turfgrass that grows well in a variety of climates. It forms an extremely dense turf and is considered to be one of the most wear resistant of all grass species.

However, if the site is to have consistently high traffic that will wear down the grass, zoysia may not be the best choice. This is only because the slow growth means it tends to recover slowly. Bermudagrass or another grass may be a better choice in those situations.

Zoysia grass has exceptional drought and heat tolerance. The grass curls under in drought conditions to conserve water and prevent water loss through transpiration.

Most zoysia grass species have fairly good shade tolerance. In the south, the shade tolerance is greater than in the cooler regions of the north. The photo in the left, taken in the evening, shows zoysia growing in a partially shaded location. Zoysia grass does well as long as there is several hours of direct sunlight that reaches the grass. It thins in the deeper shaded areas.

Where cost is not a factor (zoysia is expensive), parks, sports stadiums, golf courses have all benefited greatly from this hardy grass. It can even be mowed to ½ inch in height without harming the grass. It has a low nitrogen requirement, only a quarter of what bermudagrass requires. It does well at 2 lbs of nitrogen per 1000/sq.ft. per year.

Its high salt tolerance makes it an excellent grass for coastal regions.


Zoysiagrass, like bermudagrass, will turn a golden tan when it goes dormant. Northern states will have a much shorter growing season than in the south.

A common complaint is that zoysia is how slow it is to establish and spread. If you are planting a lawn by seed it can take a long time. Some seeds will not even germinate the first year. If started by plugs or sprigs planted 6 inches apart, it will take up to two years to fill in. If not cared for properly, it could take longer. Weed control in thin areas will be a problem until it thickens up. Sod is the fastest means of establishment.

Different zoysia grass varieties will all have different rates of establishment. Northern states or countries with similar climates can expect even longer establishment rates due to the shorter growing season. The cultivars, Blair Z. and El Toro Z., have a faster establishment rate than meyer Z. However, keep in mind, that even the faster spreading varieties can still be slow. Don’t let that discourage you if you want a zoysia lawn. The grass is really beautiful.

Zoysia grass can spread into a neighbor’s lawn, causing problems and can even break-up a good friendship. It’s aggressive nature can displace cool season grasses. It may be necessary to put a barrier in the soil that reaches below the rhizome level to help stop the grass from spreading where it is not wanted. In the zoysia photo above, the brick sidewalk has been in place for several years and the grass has never crossed to the garden on the other side.

Zoysia is considered to be a medium to high maintenance turfgrass. It can get so thick that it is hard to cut. If you use a non-motorized, walk-behind reel mower you may be in for a shock. The thick grass has the tendency to build thatch and I have had trouble getting a heavy core aerator to penetrate the grass. It can become quite weedy during dormancy until it greens up in spring.

Finally, zoysia grass seed is expensive. I paid about 120.00 dollars for a six pound bag. It was purchased at a landscape supply company that serves the industry, so I am not sure what the retail price is. It may not be far from what I paid, however.

Maintenance Requirements and Lawn Care Tips


Zoysia grass is a drought resistant grass. However, during drought conditions it will need to be well-watered each week during the summer. If the soil is sandy, it may require water more often.

Even in winter, while zoysia grass is dormant, in the absence of rain, it will still need to be watered occasionally to keep the grass from thinning in the spring.


Many Zoysia grass varieties can be mowed as low as ½ inch. At this height, a very level soil surface is required so there is no scalping. It takes special equipment and knowledge to get the soil perfectly level so this technique is generally reserved for sports organizations. Homeowners should not try to maintain their lawns at that level.

Many homeowners will mow the grass about once a week or whenever they feel it is in need of it. Regardless of how high you set the blade, mowing twice a week or every 5 days will keep your zoysia grass looking its best.

Using a motorized reel mower will give the best results, but a rotary mower with sharp blades will provide a nice look. Zoysia can become very thick, so sharp blades are essential. The thicker the grass, the more strain on the mower. Sharp blades are essential for a clean cut.


Zoysia grass has the tendency to produce heavy thatch. Thatch is not soil, but an organic layer that develops between the soil and grass vegetation, consisting primarily of shed roots and other grass debris. Over fertilization only contributes to the growth of thatch. Grass will shed its root system twice a year. It does this a root at a time, growing new roots to replace the old ones.

Thatch can be harmful in many ways. The grass roots can’t tell the difference between thatch and soil, so new roots will often grow in the thatch. Thatch is a spongy material and dries out must faster than soil, robbing the roots of needed water. If it completely dries out, it can become hydrophobic. This means water will not penetrate, but instead, will pool on the surface of the thatch. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides often become trapped in the thatch, never reaching the soil. Tests have shown that almost 100% of insecticides become trapped in heavy thatch. This can also prevent the insecticides from controlling the target insects.

Annual core aeration opens up the soil allowing water and air to reach the root zone. Rent the heaviest core aerator you can find. The very thick grass, thatch, and root system can be hard to penetrate and will need a heavy machine to do the job effectively. Leave the cores on the soil to break down naturally. As the cores break down, they feed the soil micro-organisms. Top dressing is the process of scattering organic matter over the surface of the soil. A thin layer of quality organic matter will also help feed the beneficial micro-organisms that feed on the thatch. If needed, vertical mowing or dethatching machines can be rented to tear out the thatch.


In rural areas, it is common to see homeowners set the grass on fire in the spring, a few weeks before the grass comes out of dormancy. This is done when the grass becomes too thick and thatchy. There is no permanent injury to the turf and grass growth begins on schedule as weather warms up. This is partially due to the rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems. Being underground they are protected from the fire.

If you decide to burn, make sure it is okay to do this where you live and make sure you have a hose ready just in case. Be sure to tell your neighbors what you are doing. If you don’t, believe me, they will freak out when they see your grass burning.


Zoysia grass has one of the lowest nitrogen requirements of any turfgrass. It is certainly the lowest of any turfgrass of this quality. Zoysia needs to be fertilized 3 times a year.

Zoysia will do well at 2 to 3 lbs nitrogen per 1000/sq. ft. per year. In warmer climates, if the grass remains green all year, add another lb of nitrogen per 1000/sq. ft. to the annual requirement.

Click on the link for easy steps to determining how to apply the correct

fertilizer rate.

2,4-D herbicide problem

There is a narrow time period when no 2,4-D (Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) herbicide should be used on zoysia. Do not use 2,4-D when zoysia is emerging from dormancy in the spring. The chemical 2,4-D is one of the most commonly used broad-leaf weed herbicides and is found in such products as “Weed-B-Gone” and “weed and feed” products. If sprayed on the grass during this time, it can harm it. Other weed control products, if necessary, can be used instead. After the grass has emerged from dormancy, it is then okay to use a 2,4-D product.


Fortunately, zoysia grass isn’t bothered by too many insects. If they do become a problem, you will find that the white grub is generally the most damaging. White grubs are the larva of the June beetle and feed on the grass at the soil level. Evidence of white grub damage is when the grass appears cut at the soil line and in worst cases can actually be lifted up like a carpet. Large sections of the lawn can be damaged.

A good biological control for grubs, sod webworms and cut worms is the microbial insecticide called “Baccilus Thuringensis”.

Mach 2 is another biological control that uses Halofenozide as the active ingredient. It interrupts the pupation stage of grub larvae without harming beneficial insects. This product needs to be applied well in advance of any damage. It will have no effect if applied at the time insects are damaging your lawn. If you have had problems with grubs before, you will probably have them again. It means you have the type of soil the adult June beetle are looking for to lay eggs in.

Quick kill products include trichlorofon (dylox) and carbaryl (sevin). Be aware that thatch can hinder the movement of insecticides to the root zone where grubs live.

Some pest controls, including some biological controls, are available only to certified pesticide applicators. Many commercial applicators will apply what you need without selling you a whole program. Check with those in your area to see.


Brown patch is probably the most damaging disease. Rust and leaf spot can also cause problems, but they are usually not too serious.

Brown patch occurs in the hot, humid, wet periods of summer. It begins as a 1 foot wide patch and can enlarge to several feet in diameter. The lesions that appear on the grass become tan in appearance as the grass tissue dries out. Webby mycelium can be seen along the outer edges of the damaged area on damp mornings.

It is important to avoid applications of nitrogen fertilizer as well as weed control products when the disease is present. It will only feed the fungus. As the humidity decreases and the soil dries out, the disease subsides, and the grass usually recovers. As long as the grass crown is not affected, the grass will grow out of it. If you live in a section of the country where high humidity is the rule and not the exception, fungicides, such as Daconil, are available to help control brown patch. Fungicides must be applied in the early stages of disease development for best results.

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Zoysia Grass to Lawn Care Academy Home

Establishment and Care of Zoysiagrass Lawns

Brad S. Fresenburg
Division of Plant Sciences

Zoysiagrass was introduced into the United States from Korea about 1900. A Zoysia japonica seedling with improved winter hardiness was selected from early plant collections and was released in 1951 under the name ‘Meyer’. This variety has better low-temperature tolerance than most other zoysiagrass varieties and is still the best choice for the Midwest transition zone. Zoysiagrass is adapted to the southern two-thirds of Missouri, where it is used primarily for home lawns or golf courses where a dense, low-cut turf is desired.

Zoysiagrass is a warm-season grass that spreads by both rhizomes and stolons. Stems and leaves are tough and stiff. It requires only occasional irrigation and may give excellent-quality turf from mid-May through mid-September. Although zoysiagrass is a good choice for hot weather, it goes dormant as soon as fall frosts arrive and stays brown until weather warms in spring.

Zoysiagrass grows best in full sun and requires at least six to eight hours of sunlight. It will tolerate moderate shade, but the turf will be thinner and less competitive in shady areas. Zoysiagrass requires less supplemental irrigation and fertilization than most other turfgrasses. It grows best when maintained with low to moderate nitrogen fertilization. Established zoysiagrass competes well with weeds and other turfgrasses.

Figure 1
Use a long-handled bulb planter, or plugger, to remove soil cores before planting zoysiagrass plugs.

Figure 2
Place zoysiagrass plugs in holes 6 to 12 inches apart in a diagonal grid pattern.

Figure 3
Press the plugs into the holes by foot or by light tamping or rolling to ensure good contact with the soil.


Zoysiagrass lawns generally are established vegetatively with plugs (small cores of sod), sprigs (stolon or rhizome sections), sod or strips of sod. Zoysiagrass can also be established by seed. However, the varieties that are currently available often display variable leaf width, color and require further evaluation in the Midwest for winter hardiness. The best time to vegetatively establish a zoysiagrass lawn is during late spring to early summer. Late-summer (mid-August) plantings may not allow sufficient time for complete establishment making turf more susceptible to winter injury. Plugs and sprigs should be planted between late April and June. Sod can be laid as late as September as long as temperatures are warm enough for the sod to root into the soil.

Soil preparation

Proper soil preparation will lead to successful establishment and easier care of your lawn during succeeding growing seasons. Twelve steps for zoysiagrass establishment are listed below. These steps may not all be required to successfully establish your lawn. For example, soil need not be completely tilled where grading and soil amendments are not required and when soils are not excessively compacted.

  • Obtain a soil test and get fertilizer/limestone recommendations. Contact your local MU Extension center.
  • Rough grade
  • Apply lime, if needed
  • Apply fertilizer as recommended by soil test
  • Apply soil organic amendments if needed (such as peatmoss or compost)
  • Till in above materials 4-6 inches deep
  • Finish grade
  • Apply starter fertilizer and work into top inch of soil
  • Install sod, plugs or sprigs
  • Water
  • Mow
  • Control weeds


While sodding is the most expensive method of zoysiagrass establishment, it does result in an “instant” turf. Although several weeks are required before a newly sodded turf can withstand traffic or play, sodding does provide an established turf cover. For this reason, it is often the preferred method of planting on erosion-prone sites.

Sodbeds should be moist, but not wet, at the time of sodding. If soil is excessively dry, especially under high temperatures, rooting may be poor regardless of subsequent irrigation practices. Sod should be laid so that the ends of adjacent strips are staggered. Individual strips should be fitted firmly against adjacent strips and lightly tamped or rolled to provide uniform contact with the soil. When laid on sloping terrain, sod strips should be secured in place with stakes until rooting is sufficient to stabilize the sod.

Strip sodding
Strip sodding is a variation of complete sodding in which sod strips 6 to 12 inches wide are laid 1 to 2 feet apart and allowed to spread together. Strip sodding is less expensive than sodding, but the turf must be managed properly to achieve full coverage in a reasonable amount of time.


Plugs are small pieces of sod, two or more inches wide with 2 to 3 inches of soil and roots.

Plug spacing Number of plugs per 1,000 square feet Yards of sod required for plugs1
6 inches 4,000 12+
8 inches 2,250 7
12 inches 1,000 3+
1Based on 2-inch plugs, 1 sq. yd. of sod = 324 plugs.

A specially designed tool called a plugger or a long-handled bulb planter should be used to remove cores of soil the same size as the zoysiagrass sod plugs. This will make planting easier and ensure better soil contact with the plug. A starter fertilizer, such as 8 pounds of 12-12-12 per 1,000 square feet, may be raked into the upper inch of bare soil before planting. The plugs should be kept moist before they are dropped into the holes. They are inserted into the soil, usually at 6- to 12-inch spacing, so that the tops of the plugs are flush with the soil surface. Closer spacing will give more rapid coverage. Plugs may be pressed firmly into the holes with the foot or lightly tamped or rolled after planting to ensure good soil contact. With no competition from other grasses, expect two growing seasons for complete coverage.

Keeping plugs moist for the first two or three weeks after planting is essential to prevent the roots from drying out.


The term “sprig” refers to a portion of the zoysiagrass plant that includes a short piece of the stolon or rhizome, roots and leaves, but not soil. Sprigging is less expensive than plugging and may give a faster rate of cover. However, sprigs require more initial and post-planting care than do plugs and are less likely to survive under adverse conditions.

The individual sprigs may be purchased from nurseries or separated from pieces of sod. Approximately 2 to 3 square yards of mature zoysiagrass sod will be needed to sprig 1,000 square feet of lawn surface. Late spring is the best time for planting sprigs. A starter fertilizer may be applied before sprigging.

Plant the sprigs in rows about six inches apart. Narrow furrows, 2 or 3 inches deep, can be made with a sharp spade or hoe. Do not let the sprigs dry out during planting. When planted in the furrow, one end of the sprig should be at least 2 inches below the surface of the ground, but part of each sprig must be above the ground. The furrow may be closed with a light roller or by walking on it to ensure good soil contact.

An alternative to planting sprigs in rows is to simply broadcast the sprigs onto a prepared bed. Water frequently (as many as 3 or 4 times a day) to prevent sprigs from drying out. A straw mulch (1 bale per 1,000 square feet) will also help prevent drying.

Converting an existing lawn to zoysiagrass

Plugging and strip sodding can be used not only in planting zoysiagrass in bare soil, but in introducing it into an existing turf. For example, a Kentucky bluegrass lawn can be converted to zoysiagrass by planting plugs into the bluegrass turf. The conversion process is usually slow, but it can be accelerated by adjusting cultural practices to favor the zoysiagrass. Keep the lawn mowed short (1 inch) to help the zoysiagrass spread. Fertilize on a schedule (May to August) to favor the zoysiagrass. Apply light applications of nitrogen fertilizer (about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet) every four weeks during the active growing season. It will take two to five years for the zoysiagrass to take over under normal circumstances. Excessive fertilization and irrigation will increase competition of existing grasses and will slow the spread of zoysiagrass.

Under most conditions, sprigging into an existing lawn is generally not as successful as plugging due to competition from the existing grass. Therefore, the planting area is prepared by killing the existing sod or weeds with a nonresidual herbicide, such as glyphosate or glyfosinate-ammonium, and sprigged five to seven days later. This procedure will also speed establishment by plugging or strip sodding.

Maintaining a zoysiagrass lawn

Established zoysiagrass requires less fertilizer than many other species for healthy, attractive turf. A seasonal total of 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is ample. Excessive or untimely fertilizer applications can lead to problems such as fewer roots, more thatch, diseases, and more topgrowth that requires increased mowing.

For best results, soil testing is recommended before fertilizing. A soil test will indicate major nutrient deficiencies and the acidity or alkalinity (pH) of the soil. Slightly acidic soil pH (6.0-6.5) is best. Lime should be applied only if the pH is less than 6.0.

Established zoysiagrass should be fertilized from May through August. Early spring (March/April) fertilization benefits weeds and promotes premature topgrowth before roots begin to grow. Late fertilization (September) may interfere with the natural hardening process before winter.

Where soil test indicates low phosphorus or potassium levels or where basic fertility levels are not known, use a fertilizer with a ratio that more closely approximates 1:1:1 or 2:1:1.

Zoysiagrass is mowed at a shorter cutting height (1-2 inches) than Kentucky bluegrass or fescue. In the spring of the year, zoysiagrass lawns may be mowed at the lowest setting on your mower to remove dead leaf tissue. This increases the greenup rate and allows easier and more uniform mowing during the growing season. The mowing height should be raised in September by 1/2 to 1 inch in preparation for fall.

When mowing, never remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any one time. Clippings need not be collected if they do not remain as clumps on the lawn surface.

Zoysiagrass is a drought-tolerant lawn grass that requires less water than Kentucky bluegrass to remain green and actively growing during the summer months. Watering usually is not necessary except during prolonged dry periods.

Cultural practices, such as proper fertilizing, mowing and thatch control, can go a long way toward building a drought-tolerant lawn.

When watering, follow these simple rules.

  • Water in early morning to reduce disease incidence
  • Water deeply, wetting the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.


Thatch is a layer of decomposed and partially decomposed roots, stems, stolons and rhizomes. Thatch appears as a distinct horizontal layer of brown spongy or feltlike material just above the soil surface. Zoysiagrass is prone to thatch accumulation because of its thick network of rhizomes and stolons and coarse, tough stem tissue. When managed properly, clippings returned to a zoysiagrass lawn contribute little, if any, to the thatch layer.

Lawns should be dethatched when thatch exceeds 1/2 inch in thickness. A spring-tine power rake or vertical mower will accomplish this task.

If thatch is greater than one inch, do not attempt complete removal in one year. Instead, remove the thatch over a period of two or three years. Intensive coring should also be considered since this causes much less damage to the turf than does power raking or vertical mowing.

Thatch buildup can be minimized through good cultural practices, including the following:

  • Fertilize moderately to maintain turf density without excessive growth
  • Cut grass regularly at the recommended height to maintain vigor and to avoid shock. Clippings may be left to decompose if mowing occurs at regular intervals. No more than one-third of the leaf tissue should be removed with each mowing. Remove excessive clippings that accumulate in clumps on the surface
  • Water deeply and only as needed
  • Power rake or vertical mow with dethatching equipment as needed to keep thatch less than 1/2 inch thick. For zoysiagrass, early summer after the lawn has greened up is the best time to dethatch
  • Where lawns are subjected to traffic, core aerify to improve penetration of water and fertilizer. Leave soil cores on the surface to dry and crumble before mowing

Weed control

A properly managed zoysiagrass lawn is very competitive with weeds. However, winter annuals, such as chickweed and henbit, can be a problem when the grass is dormant. Weeds will also invade turf after it has been damaged or weakened by insects, disease or intense dethatching.

Winter annual weeds are best controlled in the fall rather than the spring, when they bloom and set seed.

Grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, generally are not a problem in established zoysiagrass lawns. An early spring application of a crabgrass preventer may be desired while new lawns are being established or on close-mowed or regularly irrigated turf.

Insect and disease control

In general, zoysiagrass has few insect or disease problems. White grubs and billbug are the primary insect problems. Early detection and proper timing of insecticide applications is essential in preventing serious damage.

Zoysiagrass is not especially susceptible to disease, however, some diseases do appear in zoysiagrass lawns. Diseases usually can be avoided through proper cultural practices, especially mowing, fertilizing, watering and thatch control.

Why would you spend hours on your knees planting Zoysia grass plugs when you could just sow Zenith Zoysia seed?

Planting Zoysia grass plugs is time-consuming, back-breaking, hard work that will consume days with the hauling and proper storage of plugs, days with the painstaking plug planting, and then the 3 or more year wait for the plugs to fill in. Whereas, spreading seed into a properly prepared seed bed, followed by light raking or rolling, is quick and satisfying. Read more: Seeding New or Existing Zenith Zoysia Lawns

Do you really have time for those little Zoysia plugs to fill in?

With plugs, progress is slow. If planted at the recommended 1 plug per square foot, it can take 3 years for plugs to grow into an established lawn.

With Zenith seed, time from seeding to enjoyment of an established lawn is one growing season (when planted as early as possible in the spring – after last frost).

Do you really have the cash for all those little plugs?

$642 plugs vs. $223.95 Zenith Zoysia seed
(shipping costs not included in this estimate)

Zenith Zoysia grass seed is a game changer!

Until Zenith Zoysia came along, all Zoysia varieties had to be planted as expensive sod or plugs. Now a plush Zoysia lawn can be yours with seeded Zenith Zoysia. Patten Seed/Super-Sod developed a proprietary treatment for Zenith Zoysia seed that insures uniform and timely germination. Furthermore, Zenith provides bar-raising, quality standards for Zoysia lawns:

  • heat tolerance
  • cold tolerance
  • dark green leaves
  • thick, plush, carpet of grass
  • shade tolerance
  • drought tolerance

Enjoy the benefits of a Zoysia lawn quicker with Zenith Zoysia seed:

  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced water needs
  • Reduced mowing
  • Reduced weed control
  • Reduced maintenance time
  • Reduced wait for your luxurious dense green lawn – the envy of your neighborhood!


“Your treated Zenith seed gave me a quick and uniform germination and relatively quick establishment in only one season, faster by almost 2 years, than the plugs I had tried before!”

-Morris in TX

“I plugged my small front lawn but now I want to have a Zoysia lawn in my large back yard – your seed will give me the lawn I want with less cost and work and faster results than planting and waiting like I did for the plugs.”

-TH in GA

“My former neighbor showed me up the first time: I spent a fortune on plugs when I could have planted Zenith Zoysia seed like he did. I didn’t make the same mistake twice and bought your Zenith seed for my new home!”

-JR in KY


These Zoysia Grass Plugs are ready for planting in your lawn; they are fully mature and many are already producing runners that will enable them to grow into a lush cover of grass. They come shipped in trays and measure 1.75″ x 1.75″ x 2″ inches deep. Compare that to other sellers who expect you to cut apart your own plugs from thin strips of dry sod. Our plugs are grown in a rich compost soil mixture that slowly feeds the plants as they are established in your yard.

Zenith® Zoysia is a great choice for home lawns throughout the country. Zenith has shown in study after study to be one of the most cold-tolerant and heat-tolerant zoysia varieties, and its wider blade looks very similar to kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. According to NTEP trials across the country, Zenith greens up earlier than Meyer in the Spring, and also has better dollar spot disease resistance.

An advantage to using plugs grown in trays is that there is much less transplant shock because the root system remains intact to a large extent. This allows the plug to start growing and spreading faster as it doesn’t require the time to recover from transplant shock.

Zenith Zoysia Specifications:

  • Great shade tolerance. Does well in full sun to partial shade
  • Deep green color
  • Medium Texture… Resembles Tall Fescue or Bluegrass and doesn’t look thin or “wirey” like other Zoysias.
  • Grows well in extreme heat and cold (Grows well in USDA zones 6 to 10)
  • Low water requirement
  • Low nitrogen requirement
  • Grows slowly and needs infrequent mowing!


Follow our planting instructions guide and then just make sure you keep them well watered for the first 3 weeks.


Orders are shipped via FedEx Ground on Mondays and Thursdays. The shipping time provided in the cart prior to checkout is an estimated shipping time. If a holiday falls on a shipping date, orders will go out the following business day.

Please Note: Plugs shipped in fall/winter will be dormant and will have a brown/yellow appearance

Zoyzia spreading

Well you hit on something here without realizing it.. Zoysia will out-compete any cool season grass and all the warm season grasses except Bermuda if the climate is right. After 25 years the Zoysia should have been completely dominant crowding out all competitors.

Now it could be the previous owners did not know how to care for Zoysia. Zoysia is a heavy thatcher, and needs dethatched every couple of years, especially if over fertilized and over-seeded in the fall with Rye grass.

What I really suspect is the growing season is so short where you live, the Zoysia really never has a chance to get growing aggressively and choke out the competition. Like I said it is hard to win a 12 round fight if you can only punch for 2 or 3 rounds. In the south the growing season is more like 8 or 9 months

Anyway Meyers (aka Z-52) is the most cold tolerant and earliest strain of Zoysia released in the USA. Since yours is 25 years tells me it has to be Meyers which is as good as it gets to survive in your area

Here is what I would do if I were you trying to make what you have work:

First go look and see if you have a thatch problem, that will have to be dealt with first

When the grass is about 50% green dethatch if necessary and immediately fertilize with a slow release balanced urea fertilizer like 15-5-10 or 20-5-10. Lesco makes an excellent slow release urea products. Then about 8 weeks later add another fertilizer treatment with slow release urea nitrogen only product. This will complete your fertilizer applications for the year until the following spring. So in your area, only 2 apps per year. For those in the south, we can apply 3 apps @ 8 weeks apart.

Keep it mowed between 1 and 2 inches, and you can go as high as 3 inches if you have slopes, otherwise keep it around 1 to 2 inches.

Watering, this is where you can really knock out the cool season grasses in the summer with proper watering. Zoysia is very drought resistant while the cool season grasses are not and you can use this trait with great success if watered properly. Water only when the Zoysia needs it, and then water deeply with a full inch of water. You will have to learn how to tell by looking at the grass, it will tell you when it needs watering by a slight color change when it wilts.

Keep in mind Zoysia, especially Meyers is a very slow spreading grass, and it will take a few seasons to regain dominance if it will ever will. The only other option is to re-sod, but I would not suggest that in your area as I think it would be a waist of money and time.

Good Luck


All You Need to Know About Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is known for its ability to stand up to heat, drought, heavy foot traffic and a variety of other challenges. In its optimal growing zones, this tough grass can deliver a beautiful, dense lawn with very little input from you. Whether Zoysia is right for you depends on where you live, your lawn care goals, and how you use your lawn. When those elements align with Zoysia’s strengths, this versatile lawn grass may be the ideal choice.

Zoysia at a Glance

  • warm-season grass with improved cold tolerance
  • prefers sun, tolerates some light shade
  • suitable for southern and transition zones
  • heat- and drought-tolerant
  • low water and maintenance requirements
  • dense, traffic-tolerant growth

Zoysia Grass Basics

Zoysia grass is native to Asia, but it’s been in the United States since at least 1895,1 around the time lawns first captured the interest of American homeowners. It is what’s known as a warm-season grass, meaning its active growth starts in the warmth of late spring and peaks during hot summer weather. Zoysia is perennial, so it comes back year after year when grown in appropriate climates. It’s well-suited to lawns across the southern tier of states, from the hot, humid Southeast to parts of California.

For homeowners in what lawn pros refer to as the grass transition zone, Zoysia has added value. This area of the country’s midsection, stretching from the Atlantic into the Midwest, is where lawn grass zones meet their limits. Too hot and humid for cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, the transition zone is too cold for warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass. However, Zoysia’s heat and cold tolerance allow it to flourish in this region where many grasses fail.

Some types of Zoysia grass can only be grown from sod or grass sprigs, but Pennington Zenith Zoysia grass seed combines the strengths of Zoysia grass with all the benefits of growing from seed. Zenith Zoysia also offers improved cold tolerance that gives lawn owners even greater advantages in this challenging region.

Characteristics to Consider

Zoysia grass establishes more slowly than some lawn grasses, but it forms a very dense carpet of grass beneath your feet. It’s so dense, few lawn weeds penetrate established Zoysia lawns. The grass spreads by above-ground stems called stolons and underground stems called rhizomes. This thick, dense growth earns it favor from warm-climate sod producers and families that use their lawns heavily for lawn games and entertaining.

During its active growing season, Zoysia typically stays light to medium green. It turns brown when winter dormancy sets in, but it stays green much longer than Bermudagrass and other warm-season grasses — and Pennington Zenith Zoysia keeps its green color longer than other Zoysias do. Some homeowners choose to overseed Zoysia lawns in fall with cool-season ryegrass for green winter color, but others appreciate its straw-like natural hue. Come spring, Zoysia lawns are among the first to green up again.

Zoysia naturally develops a deep root system, and it’s very efficient at conserving moisture and resisting drought. During short drought episodes, the grass remains green. If drought and heat persist, Zoysia will go dormant, but it greens up quickly when watered again. Zoysia prefers full sun, but it tolerates light shade — unlike Bermudagrass and other sun-loving, warm-season grasses.

Zoysia Lawn Care

For warm-season grasses such as Zoysia, optimal times for standard month-by-month lawn projects are opposite those for cool-season lawns. Unlike cool-season grasses that are best planted in fall, Zoysia is best planted in spring after all threat of frost passes and the grass enters its time for optimal growth. Overseeding thin lawns should be done at this same time.

Because of Zoysia’s dense growth habit, it tends to develop thatch, that layer of thick organic matter that builds up at soil level. Aeration and dethatching, done in fall on cool-season lawns, should be done in early spring for Zoysia lawns. This timing allows the grass to recover during peak growth.

Zoysia lawns typically need 1 inch of rainfall or irrigation per week. Deep, infrequent watering encourages deep, drought-resistant roots. Sandy soils may need more frequent watering to retain color during summer heat and stress. Mow your slow-growing Zoysia lawn as needed to maintain a recommended grass height of 1 to 1 1/2 inches.

Compared to many other lawn grasses, Zoysia has relatively low nitrogen requirements. Soil testing will reveal your lawn’s nutrient needs. Fertilize according to your test results, but spring and fall applications may be all you need. Zoysia grass prefers soil pH between 5.8 and 7.0.2 Your soil test will also confirm whether your lawn needs lime or other soil amendments to restore pH balance and optimize nutrient availability.

For many homeowners, Zoysia grass is their warm-season grass of choice. That’s especially true where a drought-resistant, low-maintenance, traffic-tolerant lawn is the goal. Pennington is dedicated to producing the finest grass seed possible and helping you grow and enjoy a beautiful, lush, healthy lawn — whatever type of grass you choose to grow.

Pennington is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.


1. Duble, Richard L., “Zoysiagrass,” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

2. Patton, Aaron, “Liming Your Lawn,” University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

What’s the Deal with ZOYSIA Grass?

Q. I’m looking at a magazine ad for the Zoysia grass you sometimes talk about, and the claims look too good to be true. There must be some downside. Will it really replace my existing lawn if I plant one plug every foot like they say?

    —Stephen in Spinnerstown, PA

I saw an ad in Parade magazine touting the wonders of a Zoysia grass lawn. Can you share your thoughts on this type of lawn—especially for my area?

    —Phyllis in Chester Springs, PA

Would Zoysia grass be a good choice for my yard? I’ve read that it’s hardy in this area.

    —Julianna in Oklahoma (zone 7, I think)

I am thinking of planting “Amazoy” zoysia grass plugs in my backyard (not my front yard, which has a lot of shade). Am I too far north? Is October to late to plant?

    —Kris in Plymouth MA

A. As I’ve mentioned many times on the show, I grew up with a zoysia grass lawn in front of our Philadelphia row home, as my dad was one of the many homeowners roped in by those ubiquitous magazine ads (which probably haven’t changed much in the ensuing 50 years). So I can tell you from experience that it really did fill in completely from plugs planted as directed. (My father had been a draftsman in the shipyard, so I’m certain he not only followed the directions, he measured the distance between plugs.) It was, as advertised, weed-free, slow growing, and spread to fill in its own bare spots—and anywhere else it could reach, eventually taking over the neighbor’s attached lawn (luckily for us to their delight).

What the ads don’t tell you—they are advertising, after all —is that zoysia grass lawns go dormant in cool climes in the Fall, turning a tannish beige until they green up again the following Spring. Our Philadelphia lawn (USDA Growing Zone 6) was green about five months of the year. In warmer climes like Oklahoma, the green stage will be lengthier, with very little, if any, dormant time in the deeper South.

That’s because zoysia is a warm-season grass, like Bermuda and St. Augustine. But while most warm-season grasses can’t handle a winter chill, zoysia can survive cold weather, even in extreme areas like Massachusetts—and Michigan, where callers to our show have described decades-old zoysia lawns. BUT those lawns are only green for three or four months of the year. Northerners who don’t want a light brown yard should stick with the classic cool-season turfs: Kentucky bluegrass, the fescues, perennial rye, or blends of those grasses.

Now, we always warn that cool-season grass seed must be sown in the Fall for the lawn to thrive; that’s probably why Kris in Massachusetts wonders if she missed the planting window for this year. She would have missed it for a cool-season turf, but warm-season grasses are installed in the Spring, not the Fall. And very few warm-season grasses grow well from seed, so you generally plant sod, sprigs or plugs. (Zoysia plugs are just punched out of rolls of sod, so they’re kind of the same thing.)

Till up the soil as soon as its dry in Spring, rake away as much of the old green material as you can, level the surface, apply an inch of compost, well-aged mushroom soil and/or high-quality, dark-colored topsoil, level that, plant your zoysia plugs and keep them watered until they start spreading sideways. Warm-season lawns get a closer cut than cool-season ones, so leveling the surface first is essential if you want to avoid bare spots. (Its actually essential no matter what kind of grass you grow; an un-level lawn will never look as good as it should.)

That inch of compost and/or topsoil on top is also essential, as it will prevent lots of the buried weed seeds you uncovered from sprouting and provide a nice base of organic matter for your new lawn. If you can afford it, buy more than the recommended number and plant the plugs closer than directed; the faster it fills in, the fewer weeds you’ll have to worry about. (This is true of all warm-season grasses, not just zoysia.)

After it’s established, cut zoysia at about two inches high and feed it LIGHTLY while it’s actively green and growing; two feedings from the Philadelphia area North, one in late Spring and one in Summer. You can feed three times in warmer regions where the turf is green longer, but don’t go nuts; zoysia is just not a heavy feeder.

Use an organic fertilizer that provides about a pound of Nitrogen per thousand square feet of turf each time. Ten pounds of corn gluten meal per thousand square feet would be ideal, providing exactly the right amount of food, and—thanks to its natural pre-emergent herbicide capability—preventing any of those dormant weed seeds from sprouting. At least it will if the corn gluten is labeled as a natural pre-emergent herbicide and licensed by Iowa State University (as all of Gardens Alive’s CGM products are). Corn gluten sold as animal feed is an inferior fertilizer, and won’t provide any weed protection.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All warm-season grasses are fed in the warm months. Centipede grass is a light feeder like zoysia, but the others all want a little more Nitrogen each time—say 15 to 20 pounds of corn gluten per thousand square feet, or other natural lawn fertilizer that provides a pound and a half to two pounds of Nitrogen each time. But don’t feed bluegrass, fescue or rye in the summer; cool-season lawns are on a very different feeding schedule. See this Previous Question of the Week for more info on the care and feeding of cool-season grasses.

Back to zoysia: Once established, it is such an aggressive grower that deep edging is absolutely necessary to keep it from creeping into adjoining flowerbeds or such. (Install this barrier when you put the plugs in; it’s really hard to establish a Maginot Line AFTER the fact.)

Our zoysia lawn also needed a good de-thatching every summer with a specialized rake. This produced little haystacks of dead material I used to think would make sensational mulch, until Iowa State University Turf Grass Professor Dr. Nick Christians warned me that the seemingly dead rhizomes could still spring back to life—just where I didn’t want them.

Oh, and while our listener is correct that zoysia is generally considered a full-sun turf, Dr. Christians rates it as actually having pretty good shade tolerance. You wouldn’t want to plant a full shade area with it, but it should do okay in in-between spots.

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