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How Does Zoysia Grass Spread: Everything You Need to Know


by Bryan Mckenzie


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If you’re wondering how to achieve a lush, green lawn that requires little maintenance, Zoysia grass may be the answer. With its stoloniferous and rhizomatous growth, Zoysia grass boasts remarkable spreading capabilities, making it a popular choice among homeowners and landscapers alike.

But how exactly does Zoysia grass spread, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this hardy turfgrass species? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Zoysia grass, including its appearance, origin, common uses, and most importantly, how it spreads. Whether you’re looking to plant Zoysia grass for the first time or simply seeking to improve your lawn care knowledge, you’re in the right place.

What Is Zoysia Grass?

Zoysia grass is a warm-season turfgrass that originated in Southeast Asia and East Africa. It’s known for its thick, carpet-like sod and fine-textured blades that range in color from light green to dark green. Zoysia grass is a slow-growing grass that requires less water and fertilizer than other turfgrass species, making it an attractive option for homeowners and golf course managers alike.

Zoysia grass also exhibits good drought and wear tolerance, as well as disease resistance, making it a low-maintenance choice for those who want a beautiful lawn without putting in a lot of effort. Zoysia grass has become increasingly popular in the United States and other parts of the world due to its many positive qualities, and it’s commonly used for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields.

Appearance and Characteristics

Zoysia grass is known for its unique appearance and characteristics, which make it a popular choice for homeowners and golf course managers. The grass has a thick, dense growth pattern with a high shoot density, giving it a lush look. Its blades have a fine texture, measuring only 1-2.5mm in width.

The color of Zoysia grass can range from light green to dark green, depending on the cultivar. In addition to its appearance, Zoysia grass has many desirable characteristics that make it an excellent choice for lawns and commercial landscapes. Unlike some other grass species, Zoysia grass has a high level of drought tolerance, meaning it needs less watering in hot and dry weather.

It’s also known for its excellent wear tolerance, which means it can stand up to constant foot traffic, making it suitable for sports fields, golf course fairways, and other high-traffic areas. While slow-growing, Zoysia grass has an excellent recovery rate and can repair itself quickly from damage caused by foot traffic, inclement weather, and other factors. It’s also relatively low maintenance, requiring less fertilizer and water than other turfgrass species.

Zoysia grass has a distinct appearance and many desirable characteristics that make it an attractive option for lawns and commercial landscapes. Its unique features make it stand out from other turfgrass varieties, making it a popular choice for those seeking a beautiful and low-maintenance lawn.

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History and Origin

History and Origin

  • Zoysia grass was first discovered by Austrian botanist Karl von Zois in the late 18th century, during a journey to Southeast Asia. Von Zois named the species after himself, and Zoysia grass was later imported to Europe as a botanical curiosity.
  • The grass made its way to the United States in 1911, when it was introduced to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Introduction Station in Chico, California. From there, it was distributed to other parts of the country where it quickly gained popularity due to its low-maintenance nature and aesthetic appeal.
  • Zoysia grass is particularly well-suited to the warm climates of the southern United States, where it’s commonly planted in commercial and residential landscapes.
  • Today, there are several varieties of Zoysia grass available in the market, including Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, and Zoysia tenuifolia. Each variety has its own unique characteristics, making it important to choose the right one for your specific needs.

Common Uses

  • Lawns: Zoysia grass is well-suited for use in lawns because of its low maintenance requirements, durability, and attractive appearance. It is commonly used in warm climates and does well in both full sun and partial shade. Zoysia grass lawns have a thick, dense appearance that is comfortable underfoot and resistant to disease and insect infestations.
  • Golf courses: Zoysia grass is often used on golf courses due to its exceptional tolerance for drought, heat, and cold. It can be mowed short for putting greens, and it also has a high wear tolerance, making it an ideal choice for golf courses where heavy traffic and frequent use are common.
  • Sports fields: Zoysia grass is now being used in sports fields due to its durability, low maintenance requirements, and ability to hold up under heavy use. It has been used in professional stadiums and is fast becoming popular in other sports fields such as soccer, football, and baseball.
  • Erosion control: Zoysia grass is often used as a ground cover to prevent soil erosion on steep slopes and hillsides. Its deep roots, together with its ability to spread by rhizomes, make it ideal for this purpose.
  • Commercial landscaping: Zoysia grass is also used in commercial settings to beautify and add curb appeal to buildings, parks, and other outdoor areas. It is often planted as an alternative to traditional turf grasses because it requires less water and maintenance, reducing costs in the long run.

How Does Zoysia Grass Spread?

Zoysia grass has two primary methods of spreading, stolons and rhizomes, which are both horizontal stems that grow above and below ground, respectively. Stolons are above-ground stems that grow along the surface, producing roots and new plants as they go. They’re responsible for the thick, carpet-like appearance of Zoysia grass. Rhizomes, on the other hand, are underground stems that grow horizontally and produce new shoots and roots.

Rhizomes allow Zoysia grass to spread in a dense and uniform manner, creating a tightly-knit network of plants. In addition to stolons and rhizomes, Zoysia grass can also spread through seeding and sodding. However, seeding can be unreliable and generally requires more maintenance, while sodding can be expensive. Environmental factors such as temperature, moisture, and soil type also play a role in how Zoysia grass spreads, as they can affect the growth rate and direction of stolons and rhizomes.

Stolons and Rhizomes

Stolons and rhizomes are the two main ways that Zoysia grass spreads horizontally. Stolons, also known as runners, are above-ground stems that grow horizontally along the soil surface. The nodes on the stolons produce roots and new shoots, which in turn produce their own stolons. This results in a network of runners that can quickly cover bare patches of soil and ultimately create a dense, lush lawn.

Rhizomes, on the other hand, are underground stems that grow horizontally in the soil. Like stolons, rhizomes produce roots and new shoots, which can lead to vegetative spread and the formation of a new plant. However, rhizomes are generally slower to spread than stolons and may require longer periods of time to establish themselves.

While both stolons and rhizomes are important for the spread of Zoysia grass, stolons are generally considered to be the more effective means of vegetative propagation. By utilizing stolons and rhizomes, Zoysia grass is able to spread quickly and aggressively, creating an attractive, low-maintenance lawn.

Seeding and Sodding

Seeding and sodding are two common methods for establishing Zoysia grass. Seeding involves spreading Zoysia grass seeds over a prepared area of soil, while sodding involves rolling out pre-grown Zoysia grass over the same area. Seeding Zoysia grass requires careful preparation of the soil, including removing any existing turfgrass, weeds, or debris, and leveling the ground.

After tilling the soil to loosen it and improve drainage, Zoysia grass seeds can be spread using a broadcast spreader or hand-held spreader. A light covering of soil, straw, or mulch can then be applied to help keep the seeds moist while they germinate. It’s important to keep the soil consistently moist during the germination process, which usually takes around two to three weeks.

Sodding, on the other hand, involves purchasing pre-grown Zoysia grass sod and laying it over a prepared area of soil. This method is often a faster way to achieve a full Zoysia grass lawn, but it can be more expensive than seeding. Before sodding, the soil should be tilled and leveled, just like it would be for seeding. A layer of topsoil or compost may also be added to help improve the soil’s nutrient content.

Zoysia grass sod should be laid in a staggered pattern, similar to how bricks are laid, for optimal coverage and stability. Whether you choose to seed or sod your Zoysia grass lawn, it’s important to remember that proper watering and maintenance are essential for successful establishment.

Newly seeded or sodded lawns should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist, and they should be mowed at the proper height to encourage healthy growth and development. With proper care, your Zoysia grass lawn can thrive for years to come.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a significant role in how Zoysia grass spreads. Zoysia grass thrives in warm environments with full sun exposure, making it an ideal turfgrass species for southern states. It’s also moderately drought-tolerant, meaning it can survive long periods without water.

However, it’s important to note that Zoysia grass does require some level of water to stay healthy and green. If you live in an area with low rainfall levels, you may need to supplement your Zoysia grass with occasional watering to ensure its survival. Another factor that affects how well Zoysia grass spreads is soil quality. Zoysia grass prefers well-draining soils that are slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. If your soil is compacted, poorly drained, or too alkaline, your Zoysia grass may struggle to establish and spread.

Finally, Zoysia grass can be affected by pests and diseases, which can impact its growth and spreading capabilities. Common Zoysia grass pests include chinch bugs, white grubs, and billbugs, while common diseases include brown patches and dollar spots. To prevent these issues, it’s important to monitor your Zoysia grass regularly and take appropriate measures if you notice any signs of damage or distress.

While environmental factors can certainly impact how well Zoysia grass spreads, this turfgrass species remains a resilient and adaptable choice for warm-season lawns. With proper care and maintenance, you can ensure that your Zoysia grass stays healthy and lush for years to come.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Zoysia Grass

Advantages and Disadvantages of Zoysia Grass

Like all grass species, Zoysia grass has its share of advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages of Zoysia grass is its ability to withstand drought and heat, making it an ideal choice for those who live in areas with hot, dry summers. It also requires less watering and fertilizer than other turfgrass species, which can save homeowners money on their water bills and lawn care costs. Zoysia grass is also known for its dense growth habit, which can help prevent weed growth and create a lush, visually appealing lawn.

However, one of the disadvantages of Zoysia grass is its slow growth rate, which can make it difficult to establish a lawn quickly. It’s also prone to thatch buildup, which can require regular maintenance to prevent. Additionally, Zoysia grass may not be suitable for areas with heavy foot traffic due to its slower growth rate and tendency to become thin in highly trafficked areas.


Zoysia grass has numerous advantages that make it a popular choice for homeowners and landscapers. One of the biggest advantages of Zoysia grass is its ability to tolerate drought and heat. This grass species has deep roots that can access water and nutrients from the soil, even in hot and dry conditions.

Additionally, Zoysia grass has a high tolerance for foot traffic, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas like sports fields and golf courses. Another advantage of Zoysia grass is its fine-textured blades that create a dense, carpet-like appearance. This means that it can help to suppress weed growth in your lawn, reducing the need for herbicides.

Zoysia grass also requires less maintenance than other turfgrass species, as it needs less water and fertilizer to thrive. This can save you time and money in the long run, making Zoysia grass an eco-friendly choice that is easy to care for.

One of the unique advantages of Zoysia grass is its ability to go dormant during the winter months. This means that it requires less water and nutrients during the dormant period, and it will green up again when the weather warms up in the spring. This can be an advantage for those who want a green lawn year-round but don’t want to put in too much effort during the winter months.

The advantages of Zoysia grass make it an attractive option for those seeking a low-maintenance, eco-friendly landscaping choice. The drought and heat tolerance, foot traffic resistance, weed suppression, fine texture, and winter dormancy make Zoysia grass a great choice for those who want a beautiful lawn without putting in too much effort.


While Zoysia grass has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider before planting it. One major disadvantage is its slow growth rate, which means it takes longer to establish a full lawn than other grass species. Additionally, Zoysia grass can be hard to control once it’s established, as it tends to spread aggressively via stolons and rhizomes.

This can make it difficult to keep Zoysia grass contained in certain areas, especially if it’s surrounded by other lawns or gardens. Another common issue with Zoysia grass is that it doesn’t tolerate shade very well, which can be problematic for homeowners who have trees or buildings that cast shadows on their lawns.

Finally, some varieties of Zoysia grass can be quite expensive compared to other types of grass seed or sod, which may be a deterrent for those who are on a tight budget. Despite these disadvantages, Zoysia grass remains a popular choice for many homeowners and landscapers due to its beautiful appearance and many positive characteristics.

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How to Plant Zoysia Grass

Planting Zoysia grass requires careful preparation, as this grass species has specific requirements and preferences. To get started, it’s important to choose the right time of year for planting. Zoysia grass should be planted in late spring or early summer when the soil temperatures are warm enough for the grass to germinate and grow.

Before planting, it’s essential to prepare the soil by removing any rocks, debris, and weeds and by tilling the soil to a depth of at least 4-6 inches. Once the soil is prepared, you can choose to plant Zoysia grass through seeding or sodding. Seeding can be a more cost-effective option, but it can take longer for the grass to become established.

Sodding, on the other hand, can provide an instant lawn, but it can be more expensive. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s critical to water the newly planted Zoysia grass regularly and to follow best practices for lawn care and maintenance, such as fertilizing and mowing regularly, to ensure the grass thrives and spreads.


Preparing the soil correctly before planting Zoysia grass is essential to ensure the grass’s proper growth and establishment. The first step is to test the soil to determine its pH level. Zoysia grass thrives in acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil is too alkaline, add sulfur to decrease the pH level. Conversely, if the soil is too acidic, add lime to increase the pH level.

The second step is to remove any existing grass and weeds. This can be done with a sod cutter or by using herbicides. If using herbicides, make sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. It’s best to wait at least two weeks after applying herbicides before planting Zoysia grass to ensure that all weeds are dead.

The third step is to till the soil to a depth of six inches to loosen compacted soil and remove any debris. Use a rake to remove rocks, roots, and other debris from the soil.

The fourth step is to level the soil to create a smooth and even surface. Use a garden rake or a lawn roller to level the soil. This will help prevent water from pooling in low areas and ensure that the Zoysia grass establishes uniformly.

Finally, the soil should be amended with organic matter. This can include compost, manure, or peat moss. The organic matter helps to improve soil structure, drainage, and nutrient retention, which will support the growth of healthy Zoysia grass.

Spread a layer of the organic matter over the soil and carefully rake it to a depth of about 2 inches. By following these steps, you can ensure that your soil is ready for planting Zoysia grass seeds or sod, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy and beautiful lawn or landscape.

Planting Methods

Planting Methods

When it comes to planting Zoysia grass, there are two main methods: seeding and sodding. The method you choose will depend on your budget, the size of the area you’re planting, and the time you have available to devote to the project.

Seeding: Seeding is generally the more economical way to plant Zoysia grass. However, keep in mind that it can take longer to establish a full lawn using this method. Seeding is best done in the late spring or early summer when temperatures are warm, and the soil is moist. Before seeding, it’s essential to prepare the soil by removing all weeds, rocks, and debris.

You’ll also want to loosen the topsoil and add any necessary amendments, such as lime or fertilizer. After preparing the soil, evenly spread the Zoysia grass seed over the surface and gently rake it into the soil. Keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge, which can take up to three weeks.

Sodding: Sodding is a more expensive but quicker way to establish a Zoysia grass lawn. With sodding, you’re essentially transplanting mature Zoysia grass plants, which can significantly reduce the time it takes for the lawn to become established. Sodding is best done in the late spring or early summer when temperatures are warm, and the soil is moist. Before sodding, prepare the soil by removing all weeds, rocks, and debris. You’ll also want to loosen the topsoil and add any necessary amendments, such as lime or fertilizer.

Next, lay the Zoysia grass sod in a brick-like pattern, making sure to stagger the joints so they don’t line up. Once the sod is installed, water it thoroughly to help it establish roots. Keep the soil moist, and avoid walking on the sod for at least three weeks to give it time to take root.

Care and Maintenance

To keep your Zoysia grass healthy and looking good, you’ll need to perform some routine care and maintenance tasks. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Watering: Zoysia grass is drought-tolerant, but it still needs regular watering to stay healthy. Water deeply and infrequently, rather than shallowly and frequently, to encourage deep root growth. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation.
  • Fertilizing: Zoysia grass needs fertilizer to maintain its color and vigor, but too much fertilizer can lead to thatch buildup and other problems. Apply a slow-release fertilizer in the late spring or early summer, and then again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.
  • Mowing: Zoysia grass generally needs to be mowed less frequently than other turfgrass species, as its slow growth rate means that it doesn’t produce as much top growth. Mow the lawn to a height of 1 to 2 inches, and never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at one time.
  • Thatch removal: Zoysia grass can develop a layer of thatch – a layer of dead plant material that accumulates at the soil surface – over time. If the thatch layer becomes too thick, it can prevent water, air, and nutrients from getting to the roots of the grass. Use a dethatching rake or power dethatcher to remove thatch as needed.
  • Weed control: Zoysia grass is relatively weed-resistant, but weeds can still crop up from time to time. Use an appropriate herbicide to control weeds, and always read and follow the label instructions carefully.
  • Pest management: Some pests, such as chinch bugs, can cause damage to Zoysia grass. Use an appropriate insecticide to control pests, and consult with a lawn care specialist if you’re unsure what to use or how to apply it. By following these care and maintenance tips, you can help keep your Zoysia grass healthy and looking great all season long.

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To sum up, Zoysia grass is a versatile and attractive option for anyone in search of a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn that stays green even in hot weather. Whether you’re a homeowner or a golf course manager, Zoysia Grass can help you achieve a lush, vibrant lawn with minimal effort.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Zoysia grass does have some disadvantages compared to other turfgrass species. For example, it is more expensive than other grasses and can be slow to establish. Additionally, some people may find Zoysia grass to be too dense or thick, while others may appreciate its carpet-like texture.

Ultimately, whether Zoysia grass is the right choice for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, climate, and personal preferences. However, by understanding how Zoysia grass spreads and what its advantages and disadvantages are, you can make an informed decision about whether to plant this hardy and attractive turfgrass species.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Zoysia grass be grown from seed?

Yes, Zoysia grass can be grown from seed, but it’s a slow process. It may take up to two years to establish a full lawn from seed.

2. What is the best time to plant Zoysia grass?

The best time to plant Zoysia grass is in late spring or early summer when the soil temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. How often should Zoysia grass be watered?

Zoysia grass requires less water than most other grass species. It’s best to water it deeply once a week rather than several light waterings. If you notice the grass blades curling up, that’s a sign that it needs water.

4. How often should Zoysia grass be fertilized?

It’s best to fertilize Zoysia grass in the late spring or early summer when it’s actively growing. A second application may be necessary in mid-summer. Avoid fertilizing in the fall or winter as this can lead to winter kill.

5. How often should Zoysia grass be mowed?

Zoysia grass should be mowed to a height of 1 to 2 inches every 7 to 10 days during the growing season. Mowing too short can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to diseases.

6. What are some common pests and diseases that affect Zoysia grass?

Some common pests that can affect Zoysia grass include chinch bugs, armyworms, and grubs. Diseases that can occur include brown patch, dollar spot, and rust.

7. Can Zoysia grass tolerate shade?

Zoysia grass prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade, especially during the hottest part of the day. It’s best to choose a Zoysia grass variety that’s specifically bred for shade tolerance if your lawn has a lot of shade.

8. How do I get rid of weeds in my Zoysia grass lawn?

Preventing weeds from taking root is the best defense. However, if weeds do appear, they can be removed by hand or with an herbicide that’s specifically labeled for use on Zoysia grass.

Some popular Zoysia grass varieties include Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, and ‘Emerald’ Zoysia.

10. Can Zoysia grass be used for erosion control?

Yes, Zoysia grass has a strong root system that can help prevent erosion on slopes and hillsides.


Bryan Mckenzie
Hi there — my name is Bryan McKenzie. Before I’d got into gardening, I worked as a landscape designer at landscape design and consultation company in Jacksonville. I enjoy sharing the vast gardening experience I’ve accumulated throughout the years with like-minded green thumbs. Read more about me and my wife.
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