Zoysiagrass Lawns

Source(s): Gil Landry, PhD., Coordinator – UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, The University of Georgia.

Perhaps the most important factor in developing and maintaining an attractive and problem-free lawn is to choose a grass that is adapted to your area and has the qualities you desire. Zoysiagrasses are grown throughout Georgia.

Zoysiagrass (Zoysia Spp)

Several species and/or cultivars of zoysiagrasses are available in Georgia. Most are adapted to the entire state and form an excellent turf when properly established and managed. For the best appearance, most zoysias require cutting with a reel mower, periodic dethatching, and more frequent irrigation than other warm season turfgrasses. The zoysias form a dense, attractive turf in full sun and partial shade, but may thin out in dense shade. Most zoysias grow very slowly when compared to other grasses. They usually are established by sodding, plugging, or sprigging.

The zoysiagrasses are (1) slow to cover completely, thus more costly to establish; (2) less drought-tolerant than Common bermudagrass; and (3) recommended for lawn use only when the homeowner is willing to provide the required maintenance.

Zoysia japonica, Meyer zoysia
Zoysia japonica, Meyer zoysia

, also called “Z-52,” is an improved selection of Zoysia japonica. It has medium leaf texture, good cold tolerance, and spreads more rapidly than the other zoysiagrasses.


This is the zoysia often advertised as the “super” grass in newspapers and magazines. These advertising claims are true in part, but do not tell the entire story.

Emerald zoysia is a hybrid between Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia that was developed in Tifton, Georgia. It has a dark green color, a very fine leaf texture, good shade tolerance, high shoot density, and a low growth habit. Emerald will develop excess thatch rather quickly if over fertilized and its cold tolerance makes it more susceptible to winter injury from the Atlanta area and north.

El Toro is a relatively new zoysia that was developed in California and looks like Meyer. El Toro is the fastest growing zoysia, tolerates mowing with a rotary mower, and produces less thatch than Meyer.

Newer cultivars grown in Georgia:

  • Cavalier zoysia is a vegetatively reproduced and is suitable for sports fields, golf course fairways, tee boxes and home lawns. The variety is patented and must be sold as certified grass by licensed growers.
  • Companion zoysia is one of the newer zoysiagrasses that can be planted by seed. It is intermediate in growth habit between Meyer and the more open-growing, coarse leaf types of common zoysia.
  • Empire zoysia has broaderleaves, is more aggressive than Meyer or El Toro and is available through licensed growers only.
  • Empress zoysia is finer bladed than Meyer but not as fine as Emerald Zoysia, is suited for use in home lawns, golf courses, parks and sports fields and is available through licensed growers.
  • Palisades zoysia is a vegetatively reproduced zoysia that is suitable for home lawns, golf fairways and roughs. The variety is patented and must be sold as certified grass by licensed growers.
  • Zenith zoysia is one of the few seeded cultivars and has a leaf texture slightly coarser than Meyer. It is intermediate in growth habit, taller than Meyer and shorter than the common types. It is adapted for golf course, athletic field and residential use.
  • Zeon zoysia is a vegetatively produced zoysia that is fine textured like Emerald Zoysia but produces less thatch. Zeon was ranked higher in turf quality than Emerald or Meyer in a national study and is available through licensed growers.
  • For more information see Cooperative Extension Service Leaflet No. 395, Zoysiagrass Lawns.

Resource(s): Lawns in Georgia

Center Publication Number: 127

Gil Landry
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