Zoysia is a type of grass that has roots in parts of southeastern Asia, as well as Japan and China. Zoysia grass grows low to the ground and is wiry and resistant to heat. Due to its wiriness, Zoysia grass can be uncomfortable to walk over with bare feet. It grows during warm seasons, though it can be grown in northern regions as well. When cold weather begins, this grass starts changing color (tending to become a golden-brownish tone) and turns dormant.
Zoysia grass is extremely tolerant to wear. It can be successfully used on lawns, in parks, on athletic fields (such as baseball fields) and for golf courses. Zoysia grass makes a thick sod that can be time-consuming to fix, so it is generally not used for soccer and football fields.
When cultivated in southern areas, Zoysia grass has an excellent tolerance to shade. However, in cooler regions, the grass requires significantly more sun. It is beneficial in coastal regions and will not turn brown from saltwater spray (this spray results from wind traveling from the south).
Zoysia grass is a perennial species that consists of both rhizomes and stolons. Zoysia grass species can range from having very coarse to very fine textures. They have high levels of silica, which results in them having stiff and tough leaf blades. The leaf blades are smooth, as are the margins.
Zoysia grass is highly tolerant of drought. In times of extreme drought, the grass becomes straw colored, but can be restored fully with following rainfall or irrigation. Its root system is also very deep, permitting it to efficiently retrieve water from vast depths of soil.
Three different types of Zoysia grasses are generally used for turf: Zoysia matrella, Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia. Their differences lie in their tolerance to cold, texture and aggressiveness. Zoysia japonica is the most cold-tolerant of them all, and also has the coarsest texture. Zoysia tenuifolia has the finest, softest texture.