Characteristics of Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass feels like a dense carpet of coarse, light green leaf blades. The warm-season grass tolerates heat and drought, but it goes dormant when temperatures dip below 50 degrees F. For this reason, zoysia grass grows best in the Transition Zone, or the band that stretches from the Carolinas to Kansas and Missouri, according to Nick Edward Christians and Ashton Ritchie in "Scotts Lawns: Your Guide to a Beautiful Lawn."

Establishment

Zoysia grass seed germinates slowly and stays dormant for an extended period of time. The resulting leaf blades vary in width and color. Instead, most zoysia grass grows from sod, pugs or sprigs. Zoysia sod provides instant ground cover, but it is expensive to install. Plugging involves planting small pieces of sod 6 to 12 inches apart. Plugs fill in slowly, yet they are the most common means of establishment. Sprigging refers to the short root and leaf sections that are planted in rows or broadcast over the soil. Sprigs take so long to establish that weeds enter the space and crowd out the springs, which makes the sprigs less likely to survive.

Growth

Zoysia grass spreads by subsurface stems called rhizomes and above-ground stems called stolons. The grass spreads slowly in cool climates and aggressively in warm climates. Zoysia takes over flower beds and borders if left unchecked. Zoysia prefers sun, but it grows in moderate shade as a thinner, less competitive turf. The grass adapts to a range of soil types and conditions, including salt. Zoysia's resistance to salt injury makes it suitable for coastal planting. The mowing height ranges from 1 to 1 1/2 inches, so grade the soil prior to planting to prevent scalping the turf once it establishes itself.

Problems

Pests and weeds pose less of a challenge to well-maintained zoysia. Early detection and well-timed insecticide applications treat occasional billbug and white grub outbreaks. Herbicides treat weeds that invade dormant grass and areas compromised by pests and traffic. In most cases, zoysia grows so dense that weeds do not compete well in an established lawn. Over time, zoysia develops thatch, or a layer of decaying leaf matter and stolon, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Thatch harbors pests and disease and prevents air from entering the soil. Remove thatch in excess of ¾ inch by raking.

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About this Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides and a variety of other websites.