Zoysia is a warm-season grass that was brought to the United States because it can grow well in hot and dry conditions. Zoysia is most often seen on golf courses or sports fields. Zoysia thrives in many areas, from the mid-Southern Atlantic coast to Florida, stretching all the way West to New Mexico, Texas and California.
When it grows naturally, Zoysia can be lumpy with concentrated bumps of grass and varying areas of grass thickness. If Zoysia is planted on level, well-prepared soil, arranged evenly in a grid and properly maintained, it can have a classic lush lawn look. The leaf blades are smooth to the touch, though some types of Zoysiagrass has blades with hairs toward the base of the blade. Different types of Zoysiagrass vary in the courseness of the blade and the way the grass feels; some types of Zoysia can be rough, while others can be soft.
Zoysia is a low-maintenance grass that is resistant to pests and requires little fertilizer. Some types of Zoysiagrass, like Zoysia japonica, are prized for their resistance to a hot environment. Zoysia is also resistant to drought; it will grow long roots to draw from ground water. In drought conditions, Zoysia becomes dormant during the dry spell and returns to life when water becomes available.
Zoysia came to the United States in the early 1900s. A variety of Zoysia called Zoysia matrella came to the United States from Manila. Because of its origin, Zoysia matrella is also commonly called Manila grass. According to the University of Missouri guide, "Establishment and Care of Zoysia Lawns", the Zoysia japonica variety of turfgrass was introduced to the United States in 1951 under the commercial name "Meyer."
In seed blends, Zoysia often combined with Bermudagrass, a hardy lawn grass that can be used in warm and dry areas. Bermudagrass is more salt tolerant than Zoysia, while Zoysia is more tolerant to drought. The two grasses are often combined to ensure a consistent carpet of green grass in most conditions.
Zoysiagrass propagates using rhizomes and stolons. A rhizome is an underground part of the stem that can grow out into more Zoysiagrass. A stolon is a part of a plant that shoots up out of the ground which, like a rhizome, can grow into more Zoysiagrass. Zoysia grass is usually planted from plugs, small chunks of Zoysia that spread once they are planted. Zoysia japonica is the only variety of Zoysiagrass that can be planted from seed.