How Fast Does Zoysia Grass Spread

How Fast Does Zoysia Grass Spread?

Zoysia grass (sometimes referred to as zoysigrass) is a popular variety of lawn grass that does especially well in warm climates. It originated in Japan and has been in the United States since the late 1800s. Zoysia is considered an upmarket choice for home lawns, making it a great choice if you want to impress your neighbors and guests, and it does spread naturally filling in bare spots in your lawn. So how fast does Zoysia grass spread?

In today’s article I’ll discuss the spread rate for Zoysia grass and tell you what you need to know about this warm season lawn grass.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

How Long Does It Take to Establish Zoysia Grass?

While Zoysia grass does tend to take a bit longer to establish than other types of grass, it’s worth the wait. That’s because of the lovely dense lawn you’ll enjoy in the end.

If you want to plant Zoysia grass in your lawn, you will need to be ready for a slow process when planting from seed, which is why I recommend seeding with a good starter fertilizer with weed preventer.

You will still have to wait longer for establishment than you would with other types of grasses even if you use established Zoysia grass plugs. This is my preferred way to start Zoysia, and it’s what I recommend.

Of course, the speed at which your Zoysia grass will establish and spread will depend on the variety of Zoysia that you choose and the climate in which you’re growing it.

You will also need to maintain the lawn in the appropriate way in order to help your Zoysia grass thrive. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Different Species of Zoysia Grass

Z. zaponica, Z. tenuifolia, and Z. matrella are the three major species of zoysia grass.

Zoysia Grass Spread Rate

One of the advantages of Zoysia grass is the fact that it has such a broad growth range. In fact, it has the broadest such range of any warm season grass.

Certain Zoysia varieties do best in hot and humid climates, while others can do well as far north as the Canadian border.

The Advantages of Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is quite hardy and able to deal with heavy foot traffic and even drought. If it’s grown in its optimal conditions, it provides a remarkably dense lawn that requires relatively little maintenance (other than cutting). It needs less water than other types of grass.

Zoysia grass grows best with lots of sun, but it can tolerate moderate shade. The warm weather that comes with late spring and the heat of the summer are the times of the year at which zoysia grass is most active in growth.

Zoysia is a perennial grass. This means that when it’s planted in the right type of climate, it grows back year after year. If you live in a southern part of the United States, you’ll find that zoysia is a good choice for you. This is true whether you live in a humid climate (such as in the southeast) or a relatively dry one, such as you can find in California.

Zoysia is a popular choice for homeowners who don’t want to have to deal with weeds. The density of this grass makes it very hard for weeds to penetrate. Z. japonica is able to weather the very cold winters of northern areas of the United States. In northern areas, though, the grass has a very short growing season. It’s so short that it could be dormant for six months of the year.

Expert Tips for Improving Soil & Fertilizing Zoysia Grass Lawns

As Brad S. Fresenburg at the Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri Extension, explains that “Slightly acidic soil pH (6.0-6.5) is best” for Zoysia grass. However, he recommends applying lime if your soil’s pH is lower (and therefore more acidic than) 6.0. 

When it comes to fertilization, he strongly recommends you test your soil before fertilizing your Zoysia lawn. A soil test gives you vital information about any nutrient deficiencies in your soil, as well as its pH (how acidic or alkaline it is). 

Make sure you choose a fertilizer that will give your lawn the nutrients that it needs as indicated in the test. If the soil test doesn’t show that your soil has any significant nutrient deficiencies, Fresenberg advises you to “use a lawn fertilizer with approximate nitrogen (N): phosphorus (P): potassium (K) ratio of 3:1:1 or 4:1:1 or 4:1:2.” For example, you could use a 16-4-8 fertilizer, which “has a 4:1:2 N:P:K ratio.” 

Brad says that when you have an established Zoysia grass lawn, you should fertilize it each year between May and August. 

Zoysia Grass Plugs Spreading Rate

Because Zoysia grass seed can take a long time to germinate and establish itself, a cost-effective alternative to laying sod is to order and plant Zoysia grass plugs.

These small (typically 2″ x 2″ or 3″ x 3″ blocks of soil with established Zoysia grass) sod plugs can be planted in bare spots in your yard the same way you’d plant any perennial or annual.

Once they recover from transplanting they should begin to spread and fill in within the first year. Just be sure you’re giving them adequate water, and that you prepare the surrounding turf prior to planting your plugs.

Don’t be disappointed if your Zoysia grass takes a long time to spread and fill in, whether you’re planting from seed or via Zoysia plugs.

When planting plugs, you can expect to wait two years for your lawn to completely fill in. Planting from seed you may be looking at three years. However, once established your Zoysia lawn will keep weeds at bay and remain thick, lush, and low-maintenance, so if you have patience this is a great choice.

Zoysia Grass: 3 Primary Species

There are three different kinds of zoysia grass available. These are:

Z. matrella

Z. matressa was brought from the Philippines to the United States. This variety of grass can survive humid, hot weather all year long. For this reason, when it is used in the United States, it’s generally only in southern states.

Z. japonica

Z. japonica is a very common variety of zoysia. This is the variety that was first brought to the United States. It is able to do well in cold areas and you can start it from seed. This grass variety isn’t suitable for the southern states.

Z. tenuifolia

Z. tenuifolia is the variety of zoysia that has the most delicate blades. A disadvantage of this variety is that it does the worst in cold weather of all the varieties. There is another variety that is a mixture of Z. tenuifolia and japonica, and it’s hardier than Z. tenuifolia. The name of this mixture is Z. emerald. It’s a very common selection with homeowners.

Some of the most popular types of Zoysia grass, in fact, are crosses using two of the three types.

One is called Meyer Zoysia. Meyer Zoysia (also referred to as Z-52) is a boosted variety of Z. japonica. Meyer can thrive in colder environments. It has a green color that is medium in depth and it’s able to grow with partial shade. The Meyer variety must be initiated vegetatively.

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Additional Resources
  • Establishment and Care of Zoysiagrass Lawns by Brad S. Fresenburg, University of Missouri Extension (link)
  • Zoysiagrass by Richard L. Duble, Texas A & M Agrilife Extension (link)
  • Zoysiagrass, Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center (link)


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

14 thoughts on “How Fast Does Zoysia Grass Spread?

  1. James Vance

    Are you familiar with Zeon Zoysia?
    What Zoysia would you recommend for a partially shaded lawn (tending toward mostly shaded) in central Texas?
    Thank you, Jim

    • Zeon Zoysia is a great cultivar, James! It has more shade tolerance than many typical types of Zoysia grass and tends to produce a little less thatch as well. As long as your lawn gets 4-5 hours of sun I think it’ll do well for your shady yard. Most shaded lawns do get this between the early morning and late afternoon when the sun is able to slide in under a tree canopy, but watch how the sunlight works across your yard for a few days to be sure it’ll work for you. If you go with it, I think you’ll like its texture … it has finer blades than a lot of Zoysia and feels good underfoot. Good luck!

  2. John

    I couldn’t get any grass to grow in my sugar sand. We put out 25 pallets of Zoysia grass last year, love it. It looks like it made it through -1 degree winter.Now I notice I’m getting more weeds then what I want. What do you recommend to kill weeds before they take over.

    • Hey, John!

      Glad to hear you got some great Zoysia and you’re happy with the result. I’m not sure what type of weeds you’re dealing with, but if you’ve got some broadleaf weeds then something like Bonide Weed Beater Ultra should work ok. Most broadleaf weed killers will be safe to use with Zoysia grass, but make sure you follow the application instructions and I recommend testing it in a small section of your lawn before applying it everywhere just to be sure it won’t harm your grass. You won’t want to use a full-spectrum herbicide, as anything like that will kill grass and weeds. If you have grassy weeds like Crabgrass then something like Tenacity might work better for you. There’s a video about it and a recipe to mix it for lawns toward the bottom of this article. Good luck!

  3. Larry James

    I planted Zeon Zoysia sod last year June in Austin Texas.
    The first month as it filled in looked great. Best lawn I have ever seen.
    Some mold quickly came in and eventually killed about 15% of lawn before I was able to halt it.
    Then in heat of summer lawn started fading.
    I would water it and it would look nice and deep green.
    But then after only a day or 2 it would start fading fast to a dullish very light green.
    This continued onto fall even as temperatures cooled.
    Not sure what will happen this year, but I can’t afford to water lawn ever couple days. And shouldn’t have to with Zoysia, or any lawn for that matter.
    I am about to add an iron supplement hopefully that may help.

    Any ideas on cause of color fading ?
    I am hoping healthy Zoysia will spread back to areas killed by mold last year.


    • Hey, Larry!

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Zeon Zoysia. Sorry to hear about the mold issue and the lack of color. Iron will probably help – there are a few different options available to you, but I like a product called Dr. Iron, and I explain why in this article about when to use Iron and when to use Nitrogen to green up your lawn. My best advice would be to start with a soil test which gives you detailed results about the nutrients and pH levels of your yard from a lab. That will tell you what your soil has in abundance, what it lacks, and provide guidance as you look to improve color and health of your Zoysia this year. Too often I think we guess about what our lawn needs, when a soil test offers us a clear road-map for $25 or so. I test the soil in my yard every spring and it’s the best money I spend all year … saves me a lot of money by telling me what products I don’t need to buy and spread and guides me toward what I need to do to unlock my lawn’s potential. There’s a link to the soil test I use in that article I just shared.

      Best of luck!

      • Larry James

        Thanks Sarah,

        So I assume those soil testers that stick in the dirt with a meter reading don’t give you the accurate results one is looking for ??

        • Hi, Larry!

          Some of them are ok and do a decent job at giving you some basic info like pH level, etc. but if you’re noticing issues in your lawn I do recommend going with a lab-based test for a really complete picture. It’ll give you a clear roadmap of what to do to correct things. You can order one online or your local extension office can probably provide you with an option for about the same price.

  4. Kelly Turner

    Hi Sarah, I have one 50 sq. ft. section of my lawn that has this BEAUTIFUL lush grass that I THINK is some type of Zoysia. (This is based on what I’ve read and the fact that it turns brown during the cold months.) I want to plant more of it so my entire yard looks like this one section, but I’m not sure what variety this is. I’m putting a link to a few pictures of the grass in the website link below. Can you identify this variety? Thanks so much! Kelly

    • Hi, Kelly

      Looks like Zeon Zoysia to me, but you could ask your local turf company to come out and take a look with a few samples to be sure. I removed the link from your comment in case you didn’t want to share the photos with everyone.

    • Hey, Toni!

      It depends on the specific micro-climate on your lot … New York is a big state with lots of different areas with different weather conditions, so what works for you might not work for someone else.

      While I love Zoysia, in general I think it’s a tough grass for the average homeowner in New York to grow, and I’d probably steer you toward a more traditional Cool Season grass blend. I’m a big fan of Jonathan Green’s Black Beauty Ultra. Good luck!

  5. CJ McDonald

    Hi Sarah,

    We have a mixture of sand, clay and limestone where I want to plant some grass. The area hasn’t been worked and is a bit hard. We live on the middle peninsula of Virginia – so hot humid summers and a snow or two in the winter. I’ve been thinking about planting Zoysia. This area is large – maybe an acre to an acre and 1/2. I am looking for a super green, easy maintenance grass that I can line with boxes of flower beds. Our last frost is expected to be March 20, 2022 and I want to start prepping now.

    • Hey, CJ!

      Sorry it has been a minute – busy time of year as I work to get some things lined up for spring.

      I’ve given some thought to your question this last week and I think Zoysia would be beautiful, but it’s a bear to get established unless you lay sod, and at your lot size, that may be a dealbreaker financially. You can go with a mixture of plugs and seed, but again – it’s tough to establish Zoysia on a fresh lawn install going that route, and you may be in for a long wait (and some weed battles) for it to look good.

      An alternative in your area may be a high quality turf type tall fescue that’s proven to be good in your area. Barenburg makes some good ones (this one on Amazon might work, but you could also call a few local landscaping companies to see what they use and recommend).

      I generally recommend going a little heavy on the seed compared to what the manufacturer recommends to ensure good even coverage, and using a high quality quick-release starting fertilizer with weed preventer for spring seeding. You can find my list of recommended starter fertilizers on this page.

      Whatever you settle on, if you want to figure out the exact square footage of the area you’re seeding, I just launched a tool for that which you can find right here. It uses the Google Maps API and satellite imagery to give you a really accurate measurement of the area you want to seed.

      One other resource that might be helpful is this one from the Virginia Cooperative Extension which discusses the pros and cons of different grass types in Virginia.

      Hope this is helpful, hope your project turns out well – good luck!

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