Which Zoysia Variety Would Be Best for Your Southern Lawn?

Ideal Zoysia variety for southern lawns: consider Zoysia matrella (Manila Grass) or Zoysia japonica (Japanese Lawngrass)

By: THURSD | 01-06-2023 | 5 min read
Garden Plants Outdoor Plants

If you’ve ever tried to grow anything in the southern US, you probably know how difficult it can be. Some plants thrive in the heat, while others simply refuse to grow no matter how much you coddle them. When it comes to your yard, it’s even more important to choose the right type of grass. Pick the wrong one, and you won’t just have a few droopy leaves in the flowerbed; you’ll have an entire yard full of brown, crunchy grass!

This is why so many people choose Zoysia for their southern lawns. Not only does it look great, but it’s also resilient against heat, drought, insects, diseases, and more. The question is, which type of Zoysia is best for your lawn? Do you want grass that can bounce back from heavy foot traffic, or grass that tolerates shade as well as sun? There are plenty of popular Zoysia varieties, and they all get the job done a little differently. If you want to get the run-down on the best picks for your yard, just keep reading! But first, some key information on how to care for Zoysia.



Keeping your Zoysia healthy and green

There are a few differences in how you should care for each Zoysia variety, but they aren’t that drastic. If you just need to cover the basics, here’s what you need to know to keep your lawn healthy.

This is a resilient grass, so it can survive in hardiness zones 6 to 11. However, its happy place is definitely zones 9 to 11, where the summers are long and sunny. If it’s planted in zones 6 to 8 it will still produce a smooth green lawn, but the growing season will be shorter. If Zoysia is planted in a cooler climate, plenty of sun is essential; it would have a hard time tolerating both cool temperatures and a lot of shade.

Between houses, fences, trees, and whatever else happens to cast a shadow on your property, some degree of shade is inevitable. Fortunately, several varieties of Zoysia are fairly shade-tolerant. However, round-the-clock shade will result in yellow, sparse grass, so it’s important to ensure that every part of the yard will get around 4-6 hours of sunlight per day (this number will change slightly from one variety to the next). As long as you don’t have any completely shaded areas, Zoysia would make a great choice for your lawn.

Saving water is a big advantage in hotter, drier states, and most Zoysia varieties only need two inches or less each week. Even if there are watering restrictions to observe, a Zoysia lawn can still flourish.

There are two main ways to add some extra nutrients to your Zoysia grass. First, let the clippings from mowing compost back into the soil. Second, apply nitrogen-based fertilizer at least once a year. Using fertilizer isn’t absolutely necessary, but it really does give the grass a boost.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of caring for Zoysia, here are the best varieties to consider for your lawn.

Palisades Zoysia

Palisades Zoysia is a popular choice for those who want their lawn to stay smooth and thick in spite of frequent foot traffic. This grass is also known for actively spreading to fill in bare spots, and for rapid growth in general. It does best with 1.5 to 2 inches of water weekly, given in one watering session per week. Full sun is best, but Palisades Zoysia can keep thriving with at least six hours of sunlight daily. While many Zoysia varieties have finer blades of grass, this one has a slightly coarser texture.

Emerald Zoysia

As you may have gathered from the name, Emerald Zoysia’s best physical characteristic is its striking green color. Its fine blades make it a delight to walk over barefoot, and it has a long growing season in most of its preferred hardiness zones. If part or all of your yard is covered in shade for most of the day, this is a good option – Emerald Zoysia is more shade-tolerant than other varieties. It can stay green and growing with just three hours of sun daily, even though it prefers full sunlight.

Zeon Zoysia

If you’re looking for a premium grass for your lawn, look no further than Zeon Zoysia. This grass is quite adaptable in both hot and cool environments, although it will still go dormant for the winter after the first freeze. As soon as things warm up, though, it’ll be back to its brilliant green color in no time. It grows quickly, but thatch buildup isn’t much of an issue thanks to the fine blades. This is another shade-tolerant Zoysia variety, as it only needs around four hours of sunlight daily in order to grow well.

Cavalier Zoysia

Cavalier Zoysia is great for anyone who wants their lawn to look high-maintenance without actually requiring all the work. The fine blades provide a lush carpet of green, and the slower rate of growth means you won’t have to mow it as often compared to other Zoysia varieties. Plus, you’ll get all the usual characteristics: lower water needs, shade tolerance, resistance to diseases, and so on.

The takeaway

What do you need your lawn to deal with? From heat, to drought, to repeated foot traffic, these Zoysia varieties can handle all that and more – while looking amazing in the process. If you want a yard that’ll be the envy of the neighborhood, one of these Zoysia varieties could be the perfect choice.



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