Three species of zoysia grass exist. Zoysia japonica offers a coarse, cold-hardy grass that thrives in areas of heat or cold with ease. Zoysia matrella only survives in warm regions. Zoysia tenuifolia, a tender, fine grass that excels as a lawn, can only be grown in warm regions and offers virtually no cold tolerance. Numerous zoysia cultivars have been developed with success for lawn and turf uses.
In 1895, Zoysia japonica was brought into the United States from its native home in the Manchurian Province of China. In 1911, C.V. Piper, a USDA botanist, introduced Zoysia matrella into the country from Manila, according to Texas A&M University. Zoysia tenuifolia was introduced into the United States from the Mascarene Islands. All grasses quickly gained favor as warm-season grasses in the Southern regions.
Zoysia grass varieties have a high tolerance to foot traffic. The grass works well when planted on golf courses, cemeteries and parks. It does not withstand hard foot use such as a football or soccer field, however. The grass is found from Florida to Connecticut and throughout the Southern states all the way into Texas. Areas of New Mexico, Arizona and California also grow zoysia grass with ease.
Zoysia grass offers drought resistance. The blades of the grass turn brown when deprived of water for an extended time but once the grass receives rainfall again it quickly begins growing green from its root system. The grass grows well in areas with abundant salt spray. It is found growing in numerous coastal areas with immunity to the salt concentrations.
Zoysia is a sod forming grass that grows from both rhizomes and stolons. Its root system grows quite deep, which allows it to suck out water and nutrients that many other grasses are unable to reach with their shallow root system.
During the winter, zoysia grass enters a state of dormancy. The top growth of the grass quickly begins to turn brown after the first frost of the year. To prevent desiccation, the grass does require wintertime irrigation occasionally. Despite its need for irrigation in the winter months, the zoysia grass requires no fertilizing during its period of dormancy.
Zoysia grass requires low, frequent mowing to maintain its overall appearance. Mowing to a height of 1 to 2 inches every five to seven days helps maintain the lawn's looks and health. In a shady location, the grass benefits from a higher mowing length. Zoysia grass also benefits from mid-summer thatching. Fertilizing two to five times per year with a general purpose lawn fertilizer helps maintain the grass's overall health, according to the University of Hawaii.
White grubs adore feeding on zoysia grass roots. The grubs can cause dead spots in the grass. If the population is too high, then insecticidal control will work well.