Zoysia grass came to the United States around 1900 from Korea as Zoysia japonica. There are now three main cultivars of Zoysia grass, with some improved cultivars stemming from these original three. Zoysia is a warm-season grass requiring less irrigation and fertilization than many other grasses. When comparing Zoysia cultivars you will want to select one that best suits your climate, available sunlight and propagation method of choice.
Compare the climate tolerance of the various cultivars. Zoysia japonica is the most cold tolerant, while Zoysia tenuifolia is the least cold tolerant. Zoysia matrella is considered a subtropical to tropical grass type and, while it can be grown in cooler temperatures, such as Connecticut, it will turn brown when the frost hits.
Assess the texture of each type of Zoysia grass. Zoysia tenuifolia has the finest texture. Zoysia matrella's blades are narrow, but pointy, and Zoysia japonica has a very coarse texture. Texture can affect the aesthetics of a lawn, as well as the comfort when sitting or lying on the grass.
Measure the growth rates of each grass. Meyer, an improved strain of Zoysia japonica, takes the longest to establish, although most Zoysia cultivars are slow-growing. The Belair and El Toro strains of Zoysia japonica are the exceptions and will spread at a quicker rate.
Compare the propagation methods of each Zoysia grass. Choose Zoysia japonica if starting a lawn from seed. Zoysia tenuifolia, Meyer and Zoysia matrella must be started from sod, plugs or springs. Starting a lawn from sod is quicker, but more expensive than sowing seed.
Assess the shade tolerance of the grasses. Meyer will tolerate partial shade. Zoysia matrella will grow in moderate shade but creates a dense lawn when grown in full sun.