Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Zoysia Winter Care

winter grass image by YuriyVZ from

Zoysia grass works well for both the home yard or the golf course. The University of Missouri says zoysia grass came from Korea around 1900 and through breeding has improved its winter hardiness. The grass has dense growth that spreads by rhizomes and stolons. It is considered a warm-season grass that does not require much watering. Because this is a warm-season grass, it will go dormant in the winter, turning brown after the frost.

Fertilize the Grass

Winter care of zoysia grass begins in August with fertilization. The University of Missouri recommends soil testing before fertilizing. Zoysia grass should run on the acidic side, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Fertilizing zoysia grass in the spring or fall does not benefit the grass and it increases other grasses and weeds. Zoysia fertilizer needs are minimal, requiring only 2 lbs. of nitrogen for 1,000 square feet of lawn, according to the University of Missouri.

Mow in the Fall

Start mowing zoysia grass at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in the fall. Collect the clippings to ensure clumps of grass do not stay on the lawn through the winter, creating dead spots on the lawn. Fall is the best time to control winter annual weeds, before they spend the winter spreading through the dormant grass. Broadleaf weeds such as chickweed and henbit can be easily controlled by spraying the lawn with a liquid broadleaf weed killer that specifically states it can be used on zoysia grass.

Water in Drought Conditions

Zoysia grass is unusually drought tolerant and once established rarely needs watering. Orchard Supply recommends watering zoysia in the winter if there is a prolonged period where there was no snow or rain. Check the moisture content by digging down a few inches to see whether there is moisture. Garden supply stores and hardware stores sell a moisture meter that will also measure the pH of the soil. The meters sell for less than $15.

Insects and Disease

Zoysia grass has few pest or disease problems. The University of Missouri states that white grubs are the primary insect that infects zoysia lawns. Check the soil in the fall for signs of a grub population. If the population is too large, use an insecticide that control grubs. When stressed, zoysia grass will be susceptible to brownpatch, rust or leaf spot. A fungicide can be used on the lawn, but the best course of action is to alleviate the stress.

Overall Care

Overall, zoysia grass is hardy, drought tolerant and fairly self-sufficient. The best way to maintain zoysia in the winter is to keep up with its maintenance during the growing season so it goes into the winter with no problems. To help zoysia go into the winter carefree, mow regularly at the proper height. Dethatch the lawn in June. Fertilize in April and August. When water is needed, soak to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.

Garden Guides