Zoysia grasses are warm-season grasses that grow best in climates where winters are mild. Native to Southeast Asia, particularly China and Japan, zoysia is an extremely drought-tolerant and durable turfgrass that requires little fertilizer. Zoysiagrass has a slow growth rate and is often difficult or nearly impossible to establish by seeding, accumulates large amounts of thatch and cannot withstand prolonged freezing temperatures. There are three main species of zoysiagrass, Zoysia japonica, Z. matrella and Z. tenuifolia, as well as a plethora of cultivated varieties of each species.
Identify Korean or Japanese lawngrass (Zoysia japonica) by its coarse texture and light green hairy leaves. One of the fastest-growing species, Japanese lawngrass is the only zoysiagrass species that can be grown easily from seed.
Spot Manilagrass or matrella zoysiagrass (Z. matrella) by a finer leaf texture than other zoysia varieties and less cold tolerance. Manilagrass creates a dense lawn and has some shade tolerance, but this zoysiagrass variety is higher in maintenance and is slow to establish.
Look for very fine-textured zoysiagrass that is extremely sensitive to cold to identify Korean velvet grass or Mascarene grass (Z. tenuifolia). This zoysiagrass species tends to have a thick, groundcover-like appearance instead of a traditional lawn-grass look.
Identify emerald zoysiagrass (Z. japonica v. tenuifolia), which is a hybrid of Z. japonica and Z. tenuifolia, by its fine leaf texture and dark green blades. Emerald zoysia has good cold and shade tolerance, stands up well to foot traffic and creates a lush, dense lawn with stiff, bristle-like blades.