How to Get Rid of Zoysia Grass That Won't Die


Zoysia grass is a widely-advertised turf option that forms a dense, lush green carpet of grass that is drought and heat tolerant. However, it does not perform well in cooler climates and it can become aggressive, crowding out flower beds or creeping into your vegetable garden. Since zoysia grass is so hardy. it can be a real challenge to eradicate. However, gardeners do have a few options for getting rid of zoysia grass, including herbicides, manual removal and cultivation.

Step 1

Dig out small patches of zoysia by hand with a shovel. Zoysia grass has a complex root system, so you have to dig deeply to get all of it out. Zoysia grass can resprout from small root fragments left behind in the soil.

Step 2

Use a sod cutter to remove large swathes of zoysia grass. Sod cutters can be rented from many garden centers, hardware stores or home improvement stores. You may be able to sell or give away the zoysia sod to somebody who wants to transplant it to their lawn. You could also compost it.

Step 3

Keep an eye on the bare land for the next two weeks, and grub out any zoysia grass that re-emerges.

Step 4

Spread grass seed over the bare soil or lay down new sod. If you would like to grow a flower or vegetable garden, lay down five to 10 layers of newspaper over the earth to smother out any zoysia roots or weed seeds, wet down the newspaper and cover it with at least six inches of high quality topsoil. You can then plant your garden directly into the topsoil.

Step 5

Fertilize your zoysia grass only in the fall, when it is about to enter dormancy. This will encourage new growth, which may be killed off by the harsh conditions of winter.

Step 6

Mow the zoysia grass to a height of three inches or taller in the summer time. Cutting the grass short encourages new leaves and stronger roots, so allowing the zoysia to grow long will slowly weaken the plant and allow other turf grasses to overtake it. You can spread the seed of another turf grass over the zoysia to speed the process along. Your local garden center can help you choose a turf grass that is well-suited for your region.

Step 7

Consider using glyphosate herbicides to kill zoysia grass. However, bear in mind that these chemicals will also harm other plants and will pollute the ground water. Always read and follow all directions when using herbicides and other chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Sod cutter
  • Grass seed or sod
  • Newspaper
  • Topsoil
  • Garden plants
  • Fertilizer
  • Lawn mower
  • Glyphosate herbicide


  • Rhode Island Cooperative Extension: Zoysia Grass
  • American Lawns: Zoysia Removal
  • No Dig Vegetable Garden: Converting Zoysia Lawn to Garden
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About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.