Planting and maintaining a lush, green lawn takes a lot of hard work and patience, but the result is always worth it.
If you prefer to do less yard work or you simply do not have time for an extensive lawn care routine, choosing a low-maintenance grass species is your best option.
Zoysia is one of the best grasses for warm and temperate climates, and it is very popular among homeowners.
So what makes Zoysia grass so great?
Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass with dense growth and a light green color. Zoysia grass is also low maintenance due to its drought tolerance, resistance to pests and diseases, and durability against moderate foot traffic. Because of its dense growth, Zoysia is also resistant to weeds and has a very soft texture.
While Zoysia is a creeping grass, it spreads very slowly, so it will take a lot of patience to see results in a sparse lawn.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of zoysia grass and how long it takes to spread.
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What Are The Benefits of Zoysia Grass?
Zoysia is very hardy and durable because of its dense growth pattern.
The dense growth keeps the roots cool, which allows the grass to retain more moisture.
This moisture retention makes Zoysia very drought resistant, which is very helpful during a hot summer with very little rainfall.
Zoysia’s dense growth also lets your lawn withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as heavy foot traffic much better than other warm-season grasses.
It is very difficult for weeds to sprout in a zoysia lawn once it has been established.
If you live in a transitional growth zone where the temperatures are not suitable for growing St. Augustine, centipede, or Bermuda grasses, Zoysia is an excellent choice for you.
Zoysia will turn brown in the winter when it goes dormant, but it will return to its light green color in the spring when temperatures start to warm up again.
While Zoysia prefers sunlight, it is more shade tolerant than other types of grass.
Unlike Bermuda grass, Zoysia will grow well even in partial shade.
Zoysia grass does not require as much water as many other grass types.
Since Zoysia is a perennial grass, it will keep coming back every year, so you do not have to worry about reseeding like you would with annual grasses.
Zoysia grows well in slightly acidic soil, but add lime to balance the pH if it is too acidic.
Overall, Zoysia produces a very low-maintenance lawn since it does not need to be frequently watered or fertilized.
Despite all its advantages, there is one significant drawback to growing zoysia grass.
Zoysia has a very slow growth rate, so if you want to fill in a sparse lawn or establish a new one, you will need some patience.
How Fast Does Zoysia Grass Spread?
If you grow zoysia grass from seeds, it will take three to four weeks to germinate and begin sprouting. Zoysia spreads very slowly, and it may be up to three years before your lawn is established and filled in.
Even though it will take three years to fill in your lawn completely, zoysia grass will start to spread within three months.
When planting zoysia grass seed, you may either plant it in bare soil or overseed an existing lawn where the Zoysia will eventually crowd out the old grass.
Zoysia roots are very short and only go about 2″ inches into the ground, so having good topsoil is vital for growth.
You only have to cover zoysia seeds with a thin layer of soil for them to begin growing.
The shallow planting depth allows more sunlight to reach the seeds to encourage germination.
Ensure the seeds make proper soil contact to ensure their growth.
You can get a jump start by pre-germinating, check out our post on how to pre-germinate grass seed for more details.
How Do You Make Zoysia Grass Spread Faster?
Zoysia grass is slow-growing, but it is possible to spread faster with core aeration, dethatching, fertilization, frequent mowing, and regular watering sessions. Remove weeds and other grasses so the Zoysia does not have to compete with them as needed.
Using a core aerator on your lawn will help loosen up the soil and allow more nutrients and water to reach the zoysia roots.
Dethatch your lawn to remove anything which might inhibit the grass growth.
A slow-release fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorus will also speed up the spread of zoysia grass.
Nitrogen makes the grass green and helps the grass grow thick, while phosphorus stimulates growth and helps establish a robust root system.
Mowing your lawn at least once per week during the growing season will also encourage deeper root growth and grass spreading.
Check out our Zoysia grass mowing guide for more details.
While Zoysia is very drought-tolerant, it is essential to water your lawn regularly.
Keeping the grass moist will allow it to spread quickly and prevent the Zoysia from going into dormancy in extremely dry conditions.
If you have a lot of weeds or other grasses, such as bluegrass, on your lawn, it is best to remove them, so the zoysia grass does not have to compete with them for nutrients and moisture.
Since Zoysia is a warm-season grass type, you will see more active growth and spread in the warmer spring and summer months, the peak growing season.
Will Zoysia Take Over Other Types of Grasses?
Zoysia grass is known for its ability to spread, so it will eventually overtake other types of grass with its dense growth. Some common grasses Zoysia can overcome include:
- St. Augustine
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- Annual ryegrasses
Bahia does not grow well in sandy soils, but it will not be a challenge to overcome since zoysia grass will thrive in many different soil types.
Zoysia grass does not go dormant until after the season’s first frost, whereas Bermuda grass will die in these colder temperatures.
This leaves the Zoysia grass free to spread in the spring since the Bermuda grass will not survive the winter.
Centipede grass is also intolerant to cold temperatures, so Zoysia will easily grow in its place.
St. Augustine grass tends to be very intolerant of cold temperatures, drought, or foot traffic when compared to the hardiness of Zoysia.
Since St. Augustine grass is so finicky, it is easily replaced by Zoysia.
Kentucky bluegrass will go dormant in cold and hot weather. Since Zoysia thrives during the hotter summer months, it will overtake Kentucky bluegrass while it is dormant.
Annual ryegrasses do not come back every year, so it is not considered permanent grass.
Zoysia will take advantage of this and begin to spread in the areas where the ryegrass has died back.
It is important to remember the slow growth rate of Zoysia when you are planning out your lawn.
Even though zoysia grass will have no trouble overtaking the grasses listed above, the entire process may take 2-3 years until the Zoysia spreads across your entire lawn.
What Grasses Mix Well With Zoysia Grass?
To maintain green grass in the colder winter months when Zoysia is dormant, many homeowners choose to overseed their lawn with a cool-season type of grass. Kentucky bluegrass is the most commonly used grass alongside Zoysia.
Overseeding a Zoysia lawn with cool-season bluegrass works well because the bluegrass will stay greener in the colder months.
Bluegrass also has similar mowing and irrigation requirements compared to zoysia grass.
It is essential to use compatible grass when overseeding a Zoysia lawn.
For instance, overseeding Zoysia with tall fescue is generally not a good idea because the two types of grass have different mowing heights.
If fescue is cut too short, it will die, and if Zoysia grass is allowed to grow too tall, it will grow thinly.
Fescue is also a slow-growing grass, and Zoysia will easily overtake it.
It is often challenging to overseed a zoysia lawn because it is an aggressive grass with a tendency to crowd out other plants.
Many types of grass, even compatible ones, will eventually be overrun, and you will once again end up with a dormant zoysia lawn in the winter.
How Long Does It Take Zoysia Grass Plugs To Spread?
Planting zoysia grass plugs will give you faster results than planting seeds, but it will still take at least two years for your lawn to be filled in. As a general rule, zoysia plugs will spread 1-2″ inches in every direction per month.
The spread rate of zoysia plugs also depends on the size of your lawn and how far apart the plugs are planted.
You will need to plant your zoysia plugs in a diamond or checkerboard pattern for the best results.
Plant the plugs 12″ inches apart if you have a large lawn and around 6″ inches apart for a smaller lawn.
While it may seem like a good idea to plant the plugs closer together for more dense growth, you do not want to overcrowd them.
Planting zoysia plugs too close together will not give them enough space to establish a strong root system.
Fertilize the plugs and keep them moist for about 4-6 weeks to encourage healthy growth.
Zoysia does not need frequent fertilization, and it does best with 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000′ square feet every year.
For the best results, use one of the awesome Zoysia fertilizers we recommend.
Using phosphorus during the establishment period encourages strong root growth.
Take care not to overwater the freshly planted plugs, or you risk drowning the roots.
The grass plugs will only need around 1″ inch of water per week once they are established.
To ensure faster growth, plant the zoysia grass plugs in the spring at the start of the peak growing season.
How Does Zoysia Spread Across Bare Spots?
Zoysia grass is known for spreading horizontally as opposed to growing taller. Zoysia grass can spread through above-ground stems called stolons and below-ground stems known as rhizomes.
Because of its lateral growth, zoysia grass can cover bare spots.
However, due to Zoysia’s slow growth habit, it may take between 2 to 3 years before the bare spots are filled in, depending on their severity.
If you are planting zoysia grass plugs, it is best to keep this in mind since there will be many bare spots in between the plugs until your lawn fills out.
As previously mentioned, zoysia grass will have a monthly growth rate of around 1-2″ inches in every direction.
Encourage growth by regularly aerating, fertilizing, and watering your lawn, but it will still take some patience to see results.
In the meantime, plant a faster-growing grass type on the bare spots until the Zoysia can fill them in.
Eventually, the dense growth of the zoysia grass will grow into the new grass type’s area until your entire lawn is covered in Zoysia.
You may also want to evaluate what caused the bare spots in the first place so you are able to prevent them from happening in the future.
Will Zoysia Grass Choke Out Weeds?
Since zoysia grass has aggressive outward growth, it will eventually overtake any weeds or other existing grasses on your lawn. The dense growth of zoysia grass will also prevent new weeds from being able to sprout in your yard.
If you have weeds you would like to remove immediately, you may be better off using a selective herbicide to kill them since it will take a while for the Zoysia to grow over them.
Check out our post on Simazine Vs Atrazine herbicides for supplemental information.
Mowing your lawn regularly will also deter weed growth because the weeds will have difficulty dropping seeds if kept short.
Aim to keep your zoysia grass lawn mowed to a height between 1 to 2″ inches, and always ensure your mower blade is sharp.
Getting rid of crabgrass on your zoysia lawn may be a bit more challenging.
Crabgrass spreads laterally like zoysia grass, but it grows more quickly.
If you do not pay attention to your lawn in the summer, crabgrass will easily become an infestation on your lawn.
While the zoysia grass will eventually choke out any crabgrass, intervene with a post-emergent weed killer for broadleaf weeds to keep the crabgrass from getting out of control.
Manually pull the crabgrass out of the ground before it has a chance to spread if needed.
Keep your zoysia grass watered to prevent it from going dormant in the drier summer months.
If the zoysia grass goes dormant during the peak growing season, it will be more difficult to overtake the crabgrass.
Watering your zoysia grass encourages it to grow and spread faster for better results.