Zoysia Grass: Planting and Maintenance Guide

Jamie Tedder

Selecting the right grass type for your lawn is much like selecting the perfect furniture for your home. Just as the right couch can transform your living room into a warm, inviting space, the right grass can elevate your yard from a bare patch of dirt to a lush, green landscape.

Both decisions require consideration of your personal preferences, but more so of your specific environment and how the space will be used. Finding that perfect match for your lawn ensures it will look great and thrive even in the most challenging conditions.

Everything You Need to Know About Zoysia Grass

In addition to bermudagrass, Zoysia is a warm-season grass widely used in the southern regions and transition zones. It is known for its fine to coarse leaf texture, which forms a dense turf with impressive heat and drought tolerance.

Zoysia grass boasts other remarkable characteristics, including excellent traffic tolerance. It is resilient, and as a drought-tolerant lawn, it requires little water and maintenance, which means less time and resources spent on lawn care. While it prefers full sun, requiring six to eight hours of full sunlight, it can also tolerate moderate shade, adding to its versatility.

Icon is one of the Zoysia grass varieties with all these inherent qualities but delivers additional superior benefits. It features emerald green, finer-textured blades—the polar opposite of the coarser texture of Empire Zoysia grass. Icon Zoysia also has better shade tolerance and, most remarkably, excellent salt tolerance. It performs exceptionally well in areas with high salt content in the soil and atmosphere, such as properties near the Florida coastlines.

  • Heat and drought-tolerant
  • Traffic-tolerant, ideal for high-traffic lawns
  • Less water and maintenance requirements
  • Performs best in full sun but tolerates moderate shade
  • Varieties like Icon Zoysia grass have better shade and salt tolerance

How and When is the Best Time to Plant Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is widely established vegetatively with sod, which provides an almost instant turf. This immediate green cover aids in weed control and prevents soil erosion. However, it takes several weeks for the sod to take root and withstand traffic or play. While you can lay sod any time of the year, the best time to do so is during late spring to early summer. This timing allows sufficient time for the sod to establish before cold winter temperatures set in. What matters is that the soil temperatures are warm enough for the sod to root effectively into the soil.

Proper soil preparation is crucial to the successful establishment of Zoysia grass. This involves leveling the lawn and removing any existing grass and debris to ensure good sod-to-soil contact. You can also apply fertilizer and soil amendments as recommended by a soil test to provide the best-growing conditions for the new sod.

When laying sod, the soil should be moist but not waterlogged to aid in rooting. The sod should be laid so there are no gaps between pieces and lightly tamped or rolled to remove air pockets and ensure uniform contact with the soil. On slopes, lay the sod perpendicular to the slope to better secure it in place. You can also secure it with stakes until it roots properly. Read here for a comprehensive guide on laying sod.

Best Practices for Keeping Your Zoysia Grass Healthy

Proper soil preparation sets the optimal conditions for successfully establishing your Zoysia lawn. By leveling the soil, removing debris, and amending with necessary nutrients, you create a healthier, more resilient lawn that requires less intensive maintenance throughout the succeeding growing seasons.

Given the diverse climates and soil conditions in which Zoysia grass can grow, there is no standard calendar for turfgrass maintenance. Because of this, it's more effective to monitor your local conditions and apply the necessary management practices accordingly.

Because of this, it's more accurate to monitor your local weather conditions and apply the necessary management practices accordingly. Crucial times to monitor include early spring, when the grass may be emerging from dormancy. During this season, lawn care practices should focus on rejuvenating your lawn to prepare it for summer heat, ensuring it is dense and healthy to prevent summer annual weeds from overcrowding your desired vegetation.

On the other hand, fall maintenance may slow as the grass declines in growth with dropping temperatures. Dormant Zoysia lawns may stop or significantly slow down water and nutrient uptake. With this slow growth and cooler temperatures, you may not have to water and mow as often as when the grass is actively growing.


Zoysia grass thrives when maintained at a height of 1-2 inches. In spring, set your lawn mower to the lowest setting to remove winter's dead grass, promoting a uniform green-up. During the summer, raise the mowing height to the upper end of the range to provide soil shade and help retain moisture. In the fall, gradually lower the mowing height to prepare the grass for winter dormancy.

Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade length in a single mowing session to prevent stressing the grass. Mulching grass clippings can be beneficial as they recycle nutrients in the soil. When mulching, ensure the clippings are short enough to avoid smothering the grass and encouraging fungal disease. Sharpen your mower blades regularly to ensure clean cuts and reduce the risks of diseases.


Newly laid Zoysia sod requires as much as daily watering for the first 10-14 days to keep the soil moist and support establishment. Once established, Zoysia grass generally needs 1-1.5 inches of water per week, including rainfall, adjusting based on weather conditions. During hot weather, increase watering to 2 inches per week. In prolonged droughts, Zoysia grass may enter dormancy and turn brown. However, it should resume growth when conditions improve.

During dormancy, reduce watering frequency but ensure occasional watering to keep the roots hydrated. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Infrequent, deep watering is better than shallow watering as it encourages deeper root growth, improving drought tolerance.


Established Zoysia grass requires less fertilizer than many other species to maintain a healthy, dense appearance. Excessive or untimely fertilization can lead to problems such as weak roots, increased thatch, diseases, and excessive top growth.

Apply fertilizer when the grass is actively growing and avoid late fall applications, which can promote premature top growth and interfere with winter hardening. Although optional, soil testing can help identify nutrient deficiencies, allowing more informed decisions about fertilizers and soil amendments.

Weed, Pest, and Disease Control

Poor soil conditions, like poor drainage and compacted soil, can weaken your lawn and make it more susceptible to weeds, pests, and fungal diseases. Zoysia grass is particularly prone to a fungal disease called Zoysia patch, which thrives in damp, humid conditions. Core aeration can help relieve soil compaction and improve drainage, thus addressing these issues. Dethatching can remove excessive thatch that prevents water, sunlight, and nutrients from reaching the roots. Overall, these practices create a healthier environment for Zoysia grass to grow robustly.


Zoysia Grass Sod from Bethel Farms

With proper soil preparation, thoughtful mowing, diligent watering, and regular fertilizing, Zoysia grass can transform your lawn into a dense, green, low-maintenance turf. It provides a lush and resilient green cover that withstands the challenges of various growing conditions.

For a beautiful, durable lawn, consider Zoysia grass as your top option. Shop for a wide range of high-quality grass sod for sale at the Bethel Farms website today!