Bermuda vs. Zoysia

Overview

If you live in a warmer climate, or even on the edge of a warmer climate, you may have the choice between zoysia or Bermuda grass for your lawn turf needs. Both grasses can do quite well in warmer climates and zoysia may even have a slight advantage when it comes to cooler areas. The grasses tend to resist disease well and are favored species for many reasons. Still, there are some differences between the grass that may be factors in making a final determination.

Identification

Both grasses are versatile and have more than one cultivar. For example, zoysia grasses tend to have species with relatively narrow blades, or less than 1/10th inch. Bermuda grasses, on the other hand, tend to be less than 1/10th of an inch in blade length. The maximum growth of both species is often not obtained because of mowing.

Shade Tolerance

The presence of shade will help you determine whether you want Bermuda or zoysia grass. If your lawn has a great deal of shade, then neither grass will work well. On the other hand, if your lawn has partial shade, then zoysia grass is a better option. Bermuda grass is typically not shade tolerant. Still, if shade is only present on the lawn for a few hours, it may be possible to plant it.

Drought Tolerance

If your area typically receives long periods of time between rainfalls and you cannot provide water at least once a week, that will play a role in your choice. Typically, both grasses can withstand drought conditions, but will turn brown. Bermuda grass does well in drought conditions because it goes dormant during dry periods and thus is better equipped to survive.

Cold Climate Considerations

Zoysia and Bermuda are warm-season grasses and do not tolerate colder temperatures well. Frosts and freezes will send them into a dormant state or kill them altogether. While dormancy is acceptable during drought conditions as a matter of survival, warm-season grasses will remain dormant--and unappealing--throughout much of the year in a cold climate.

High Traffic on the Grass

Due to its ability to withstand traffic and repair quickly, Bermuda grass has long been a favorite of parks and golf courses. If you have a heavily trafficked yard or pets is a good option. Zoysia grass withstands traffic well after it has been established for a few years. Once it gets damaged it does not repair itself quickly, however, and will need to be sectioned off or somehow protected to give it time to grow back.

Keywords: Bermuda or Zoysia, Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, warm season grasses

About this Author

Ken Black is a freelance writer and a staff writer for The Times Republican in Central Iowa. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including business, politics, family life and travel.