Zoysia is a favorite choice among landscapers and homeowners who desire a lush, dense turf. Native to Asia, zoysia performs best in hot climates. It creates a very wear-resistant turf but does require considerable maintenance. You can increase your chances of success with zoysia by choosing the variety best adapted to your lawn conditions.
Also known as Japanese or Korean lawn grass, this is the only variety of zoysia which can be started from seeds. Zoysia japonica also spreads slightly faster than other selections, so for rapid lawn establishment it may be an attractive option. It creates a lawn of coarse texture and light green color. On the down side, Z. japonica is not as durable as some other varieties. It tends to be more susceptible to nematodes and other pests.
Out of a desire to improve upon Z. japonica, Zoysia meyer was developed and released in 1951. Its blades are slightly finer than Z. japonica and it offers improved cold tolerance. Z. meyer is the first type of zoysia to green up in the spring and the last to go dormant in the fall. Also known under its developmental name, Z-52, Z. meyer is dark green in color, and can be established by plugs, sprigs or sod.
Also known as Manilla grass, Z. matrella bears a striking resemblance to Bermuda grass in both appearance and quality. This variety is slow to spread, but creates a very high-quality turf once established. Generally, Z. matrella is finer and denser than Z. japonica, but is less cold tolerant and more vulnerable to nematode damage. This selection is more shade tolerant than Z. meyer, but less shade tolerant than Emerald zoysia.
Z. tenuifolia is the finest-textured of all the zoysia cultivars. It is also the least cold-tolerant, and is best suited to the deep and coastal South. Z. tenuifolia is highly susceptible to thatch, and requires maintenance to avoid the puffiness of this condition.
Emerald zoysia is a cross between Z. tenuifolia and Z. japonica, developed with the goal of drawing on the best attributes of each. Emerald zoysia may be the most attractive of all the varieties. It boasts good wear, cold and shade tolerance, and a deep-green color. This option is recommended for lawns where appearance is of chief importance, and time for maintenance is available. Its main challenge, like other varieties, is a tendency to thatch.