Zoysia grass is popular with homeowners and professional landscapers alike because of its durability, ease of care and ability to withstand heat and drought. In addition to covering many lawns, it has a home in many golf courses, sports arenas, school playgrounds and community parks. Each variety of zoysia has a slightly different appearance and level of shade tolerance, disease and pest resistance and ability to recover from neglect or drought.
A warm weather grass, zenith zoysia was developed in 1990 as a high-traffic, low water grass. It thrives in full sun and will tolerate light shade. It is dark green, has a medium texture and grows very densely, blocking out many weeds, making it ideal for lawns and play areas. It is also commonly used on golf courses and sports fields. Zenith is tolerant of cold winters, but needs warm weather to green up.
Known for its disease resistance, compadre zoysia greens up sooner and stays green longer than most other kinds of zoysia. It is a rich, deep green color and has medium-fine blades. Compadre works well in dry areas or where water use is an issue since it has low water needs compared to most types of grasses. Like zenith, compadre has a very dense growing habit, which can be made even denser by frequent mowing. This helps block out weeds and stand up to heavy traffic. Compadre was also called companion zoysia.
A top choice for homeowners, panda zoysia is low-maintenance, heat and drought tolerant and stands up to heavy wear. It will also survive some neglect by going dormant if it does not receive enough water and greening back up when watered again. Panda prefers heat, and will lose its color when temperatures begin to drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a medium green color and medium-coarse texture.
Another variety of zoysia known for low water needs and easy care, empire zoysia is commonly "E-Z" grass. It is not affected by most garden maintenance chemicals, such as weed killers, and it has a high resistance to destructive cinch bugs. Like many other zoysia grasses, empire forms a dense mat, which nearly eliminates the need for weed control. It is a warm weather, sun-loving grass, but can tolerate shade better than most other zoysias. It is deep green and has coarse blades.