Zoysia Grass – Popular Types | How To Choose The Right Zoysia For Your Lawn

It’s natural to have a million questions in your head when choosing a grass cultivar for your lawn. For example, which kind of grass needs the least amount of care, which grass thrives best in the shade, and which kind of grass looks the prettiest? That’s why it’s essential to know what to look for when purchasing sod so you can pick the right grass.

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Zoysia grass is a good option for lawns due to its attractive appearance and low maintenance requirements.

zoysia grass
Photo by Bill Wilson

The warm seasons of spring, summer, and early fall are ideal for the growth of zoysia grass. It spreads quickly and matures into a thick, luxuriant lawn. However, the first frost in the fall will cause Zoysia grass to turn brown and remain dormant in the winter. 

Its cultivars include some of the coldest-hardy warm-season grasses and are suitable for many parts of the country. Moreover, there are many Zoysia grass cultivars available, each of which is well-suited to a specific landscaping purpose.

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To give you an example, Innovation Zoysia might be the best option for your lawn if it has a lot of shaded regions. On the other hand, if you live in a location that is prone to dry spells, EMPIRE Zoysia is a fantastic choice. Likewise, if you want a unique-looking yard with a fluffy-looking appearance, Zoysia tenuifolia is for you.

So, continue reading to see a selection of Zoysia varieties that will thrive in your yard.

Premium Zoysia Grass Varieties

Within the family of Zoysia grass, there are several different varieties, and each might have distinctive advantages and disadvantages, as well as varying aesthetic qualities and climatic preferences. This section of the article gives a high-level look at the several species of Zoysia grass that are most frequently used for grass lawns in the US.

1. El Toro Zoysia Grass

El Toro sod can survive in shady conditions and is the most drought-resistant Zoysia grass species.

Key Features

Grass BladesMedium to coarse in texture and a dark green color
Drought ToleranceGood
Shade ToleranceModerate
Injury RecoveryGood
Wear ToleranceGood
Ideal Mowing Height1 o 2 inches
Ideal ApplicationsPutting greens, manicured lawns, and manicured commercial landscaping

General Info

El Toro Zoysia Grass is a medium-bladed, lighter green zoysia grass that grows in dense canopies and is able to withstand high volumes of foot traffic. In addition, this grass has a slower vertical growth rate, making it an excellent choice for homeowners searching for grass that requires less mowing. It was developed at the University of California, is tolerant of shade, and maintains its color far into the fall. In addition, it is resistant to drought and needs less water than many other types, which makes it an excellent option for dry areas. 

Furthermore, it has the highest cold tolerance of any Zoysia grass and the fastest growth rate of any species. According to research, El Toro also greens up earlier in the spring than other varieties. In addition, it is simple to care for and requires less fertilization than the majority of other types of grass. The blades have a medium texture, producing rich dark green grass ideal for home and commercial installations.

2. Zorro Zoysia Grass

Zorro stands apart from other types of Zoysia grass due to its exceptionally soft texture and thick rhizomes.

Key Features

Grass BladesThe leaves are thin and medium green.
Drought ToleranceExcellent
Shade ToleranceGood
Injury RecoveryMedium
Wear ToleranceExcellent
Ideal Mowing Height1 to 2 inches
Ideal ApplicationsLawns at residential and commercial properties, as well as parks

General Info

The Zorro Zoysia has very fine blades and a dark green color, making it an excellent choice for residential lawns. It was established in 2002 by a group of researchers from Texas A&M University. It can flourish in regions that other warm-season grasses are unable to since it has a higher shade tolerance than most of those grasses. 

In addition, it keeps its dark green color well into the fall, when most other types of grass have already turned brown, making it a desirable option for lawns. 

Zorro Zoysia grass does well in both full sun and moderate shade, and it needs only three to four hours of sunlight per day in order to thrive. Zorro Zoysia also has a high tolerance for drought, a fast rate of regrowth after being damaged, and can be mowed very low and repeatedly without suffering any adverse effects. 

Its density, texture, and capacity to adjust to varying mowing heights make it a superb playing surface for tees, fairways, and roughs in the world of golf.

3. Zeon Zoysia Grass

Zeon Zoysia grass is a low-maintenance turf grass that thrives in the sunny climates of the United States.

Key Features

Grass BladesThe leaves are thin and medium green.
Drought ToleranceGood
Shade ToleranceExcellent
Injury RecoveryGood
Wear ToleranceExcellent
Ideal Mowing Height1.5 inches
Ideal ApplicationsGolf, parks, and other public and private green spaces

General Info

Another variety of Zoysia grass with a finer texture, Zeon produces a lawn that is dense and dark green in color. Zeon may grow in a variety of environments, including those with a lot of water, a lot of shade, or both. It does particularly well in the lower South’s warm climate and the slightly milder temperatures in the lower part of the transition zone. 

It was designed to give the landscaping industry access to superior fine-bladed Zoysia with a higher tolerance for shade and a faster rate of spread. 

It was even a part of the Olympics at one point! In addition, this type of grass can be used on official golf courses in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. 

Since it has a delicate, papery leaf and a modest growth rate, you won’t have to trim it as frequently as you would with many other types because of its characteristics. As a whole, Zeon’s strong performance ratings and dark green hue make it an excellent choice for residential lawns, commercial installations, and even golf courses.

4. Palisades Zoysia Grass

Palisades Zoysia is one of the most widely used Zoysia grasses with a coarse texture in the United States.

Key Features

Grass BladesThin leaflets, and the color of a medium green
Drought ToleranceExcellent
Shade ToleranceMedium
Injury RecoveryExcellent
Wear ToleranceExcellent
Ideal Mowing Height1 to 2 inches
Ideal ApplicationsLawns at homes, parks, and other business and residential landscapes

General Info

The Palisades Zoysia grass has a medium-to-coarse texture and is recognized for its drought resistance. It is a very dense turf that is widely used on residential lawns, and its wider blade width makes it a little bit simpler to care for. 

Palisades is a low-maintenance landscape option that Texas A&M University developed to resist drought conditions. It has demonstrated that it is an effective alternative for these types of settings. Palisades has also proven to be useful when tackling shaded regions in the landscape because they have minimal light requirements. 

The fact that this species can thrive in a wide range of soil conditions, including acidic soil, is one of the primary reasons it is so popular. You can start it from seed or sod, and it is resistant to pests such as grubs. It grows best at temperatures of about 80 degrees, but it is hardier than many other types and can be grown in much colder zones. 

Moreover, because of its upright growth, it can be mowed at heights ranging from 3 inches down to 1/2 of an inch for uses such as golf tee boxes. This cultivar’s vigorous rhizomes let it flourish in a diverse range of soil types that can be found across the United States.

5. Meyer Zoysia Grass

Meyer zoysia grass is a genetically modified form of the Japanese grass Zoysia japonica.

Key Features

Grass BladesDark green and dense
Drought ToleranceGood
Shade ToleranceExcellent
Injury RecoveryGood
Wear ToleranceGood
Ideal Mowing Height1.5 to 2.5 inches
Ideal ApplicationsOpen spaces, commercial and residential areas, and residential lawns

General Info

Meyer Zoysia, a zoysia grass with medium blades, has been successfully utilized in the south of the United States for many decades. However, the growth of Meyer is a bit slow and steady, and the foliage is deep green, and quite dense. 

Additionally, it exhibits exceptionally high cold tolerance well into the transition zone. 

Many people consider Meyer Zoysia to be the most prestigious variety of lawn grass and its dense growth keeps the weeds at bay. Additionally, it is exceptionally resistant to high heat and low temperatures and can thrive in a wide variety of soil compositions. 

However, it prefers growing in zones 6 to 11 and thrives in bright sunlight. Commonly known as “Z-52,” it is an enhanced selection of the Z. japonica grass species. 

However, it is vulnerable to the damage caused by worms and should be avoided in areas where nematodes are a problem. Although it is possible to grow this turfgrass from seed, it is more commonly grown from sprigs or sod for a quicker result. 

Aside from that, Meyer spreads to generate a thick lawn that is tolerant to both traffic and cold and gives superb coverage.

6. Geo Zoysia Grass

Growing in a wide range of climate conditions, Geo is a dark green turfgrass with fine-textured leaf blades.

Key Features

Grass BladesThe blades are thin, but the growth is thick.
Drought ToleranceExcellent
Shade ToleranceExcellent
Injury RecoveryGood
Wear ToleranceExcellent
Ideal Mowing Height0.5 to 1 inches
Ideal ApplicationsPutting greens, public parks, and residential and business lawns

General Info

Known for its beautiful, dark green blades, geo zoysia grass is a popular choice for lawns. The grass has a very gentle texture, and it can be cut to a height of one inch when using a reel mower or two inches when using a rotary mower. Its popularity stems from its exceptionally gentle nature, making it an excellent option for use on lawns. 

Furthermore, its dense growth helps keep weeds at bay, and the plant can survive in dry conditions, making it a suitable option for areas that don’t get much rain. 

Lawns with Geo Zoysia need a bit more care than those with other zoysias, but the extra effort is worth it if you want the best-looking grass in the area. 

In addition, it can survive in a wide range of soil and climate conditions, and it has a lower potential for thatch buildup compared to other highly fine-textured zoysia grasses. 

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Geo Zoysia is an excellent choice for a lawn if you want the best looking lawn in the neighborhood and are ready to perform a little bit more seasonal care on it.

7. Innovation Zoysia Grass

Innovation Zoysia is a tough, dark green turf grass that grows well in the southern two-thirds of the United States.

zoysia grass
Image by fresh player from Pixabay

Key Features

Grass BladesA thin-bladed grass with a thick growth 
Drought ToleranceExcellent
Shade ToleranceExcellent
Injury RecoveryGood
Wear ToleranceGood
Ideal Mowing Height1 to 2 inches
Ideal ApplicationsGolf, parks, and other green spaces, as well as residential lawns

General Info

Innovation Zoysia is a new kind of zoysia grass that is more adaptable than previous zoysia varieties. It was produced by researchers at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University. Innovation is exceptionally cold-tolerant, letting it thrive in the transition zone. You can find it anywhere along the west coast and as far north as southern Pennsylvania on the east coast. On the west coast, you can find it anywhere. 

It is a low-maintenance, dense growth that is ideal for lawns, parks, and golf courses. It is not picky about the soil it is grown on and can tolerate moderate amounts of shade. It is possible to mow it as short as half an inch with a reel mower or as long as two inches using a rotary mower. It is utilized for home lawns, sports grounds, and golf courses. 

The shade tolerance of Innovation is very high and requires little maintenance. 

In terms of its visual appeal, Innovation possesses a texture that ranges from medium to fine and is colored in a dark green hue. As a result, both golf course professionals and homeowners with discriminating tastes will be satisfied by it. 

Furthermore, Innovation Zoysia grass, in comparison to other types of Zoysia, possesses superior resistance and the ability to recover from injuries.

8. EMPIRE Zoysia Grass

The distinctive dark green color of Empire Zoysia grass makes the lawn appear rich and bright.

Key Features

Grass BladesWide blade, open growth
Drought ToleranceExcellent
Shade ToleranceGood
Injury RecoveryExcellent
Wear ToleranceExcellent
Ideal Mowing Height1 to 2 inches
Ideal ApplicationsPutting greens, residential lawns, public parks, and business landscaping.

General Info

EMPIRE Zoysia is a Brazilian variety of Zoysia japonica that was bred specifically for a wide range of purposes, one of which is the cultivation of lawns in residential settings across the southern two-thirds of the United States. EMPIRE has robust runners, rhizomes, and deep roots, providing excellent sod strength, wearability, and better drought tolerance. 

It works well in sand and mud soils throughout the southern United States. 

Empire Zoysia is a dark green grass with a broad blade and open growth, making it easy to mow with a conventional lawn tractor. Due to its low water needs, it can also contribute to conservation efforts. In addition to that, Empire possesses excellent disease resistance and is resistant to a wide variety of insects, including chinch bugs. 

Although Empire Zoysia is an excellent option for sodding, it is essential to be aware of the limitations of this type of grass. Empire is prone to brown patch disease, just like the majority of other types of Zoysia, and it is not a good choice for places that receive a lot of shadows (less than 5 hours of daily sunlight)

Final Thoughts

Zoysia grass comes in a number of different varieties, and further variations are attainable by breeding several types together to create hybrids. Empire Zoysia is currently one of the most popular basic types since it can thrive in a sizable portion of the southern United States, it has an attractive dark green color that a lot of people find appealing, and it has a low maintenance requirement. However, the Meyer or Innovation types are fantastic choices if you are looking for something that can withstand colder temperatures for longer. 

In addition, Emerald Zoysia is a well-liked hybrid because it matures at a relatively modest rate, requires little in the way of upkeep, and is resistant to shade and wear.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is better, Zeon or Zenith Zoysia?

Zenith and Zeon Zoysia have similar light requirements, needing anywhere from full sun to partial shade to thrive. But, on the other hand, Zeon is hardier, turning brown later in the winter and turning green earlier in the spring. Moreover, Zeon has an emerald-like appearance (very fine blades, like needles). Zenith is very similar to Meyer; however, its blades are much wider.

Which Zoysia spreads the fastest?

Meyer Zoysia, commonly known as “Z-52,” has a medium-coarse leaf texture, strong cold tolerance, and rapid propagation compared to other zoysia varieties. It expands slowly at first but speeds up considerably after a couple of years. It will take around two years for a lawn planted from plugs to reach its full size.

Which Zoysia is most cold tolerant?

It is generally agreed that the Meyer Zoysia is the species of Zoysia that can withstand the coldest temperatures. Given its durability, Meyer Zoysia has also been a popular choice for sod grass in the Atlanta area. Also, Meyer Zoysia can survive in cold and hot climates, unlike several other types of grass.

What is the prettiest Zoysia grass?

A hybrid with a finer texture, Emerald zoysia grass is thought to be the most visually appealing kind of Zoysia. It works particularly well for high-quality lawns that are cared for by experienced lawn care professionals. Meyer zoysia is more winter hardy than Emerald zoysia, while Emerald zoysia can tolerate more shadow.

What are the disadvantages of zoysia grass?

Zoysia won’t tolerate heavy traffic during these periods of dormancy. Another drawback is the relatively low tolerance for shade when grown under trees. 

Also, yards with both sun and shade parts may need shade beds constructed beneath trees or a variety of grass seeds that can thrive in the shade.

Sources for Further Reading

Zoysiagrass. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. (2022). Retrieved 30 October 2022, from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/zoysiagrass/

Zoysiagrass. Texas Cooperative Extension. (2022). Retrieved 30 October 2022, from https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/turf/publications/zoysia.html

Zoysiagrass. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (2022). Retrieved 30 October 2022, from https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/lawns/turf-types/zoysiagrass.html

We hope you enjoyed and learn something new from this article, please do read our other articles to continue learning:

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