When you watch a game of golf, you may be interested in Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods. But for turf enthusiasts, the real star of the course is the zoysia grass that they are walking on. Zoysia is a popular warm-season grass for athletic fields, golf courses and parks due to its heat and shade tolerance and the wide range of soils from clay to sand that it will grow in. In the north, Zoysia is used as an annual for summer greenery, though it will not survive harsh northern winters. There are three principle species of zoysia: Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella and Zoysia tenuifolia.
Find out your USDA hardiness zone by consulting a USDA hardiness map (see Resources). The USDA hardiness map will help you to determine which zoysia grass is right for your climate zone. Of the three principle species of zoysia used for turf, Zoysia japonica is the most cold tolerant. You should select this species of zoysia if you live north of zone 6 and plan to overseed zoysia as a summer annual grass.
Examine your lawn to determine how you wish to plant zoysia grass. If you live in a warm-season area where zoysia will be your year-round lawn grass, select Zoysia matrella or Zoysia tenuifolia, which can be planted in sprigs, plugs or placed on your lawn as sod. If you want to plant zoysia seed, or live in a cooler season zone where you must overseed a cool-season grass such as rye or Kentucky blue grass, select Zoysia japonica, which is the only variety available in seed form.
Look over each blade of Zoysia to determine which texture of grass that you want to purchase for your lawn. Zoysia japonica has a coarse texture. Zoysia matrella grass blades are narrow, sharply pointed and wiry. Zoysia tenuifolia is fine textured, but is the least cold tolerant of the grasses.
Examine sod or seed before purchasing it from a sod supplier. If your sod or seed is delivered, examine the sod or seed again before accepting delivery. Scoop up a handful of seeds and look them over to determine that they all look alike. Seed that is not uniform may be a mixed variety of seed instead of pure zoysia. Do not purchase seed that is in this condition. If seed in this condition has been delivered to you after purchase, refuse delivery.
Hold the sod under a magnifying glass to examine it. Sod is often mowed short, so it can be difficult to tell zoysia from another variety such as St. Augustine. A magnifying glass will help you to see the hairs on grass as well as the shape of each stem. Other signs to look for in sod include weeds or evidence of heat or drought stress. If sod in the center of a pallet is brown, this is a sign that the grass has sat on a pallet in the heat without water for several days. Sod should be a uniform thickness and should have an even cut along the edges. Do not purchase sod if it exhibits warning signs described. If sod is delivered to you after purchase in this condition, refuse delivery.