How to Cut Zoysia Grass: Mowing and Maintenance Guide

Zoysia is a popular choice of lawngrass for many reasons, particularly its drought and shade tolerance and attractive appearance, but knowing how to properly care for it is essential to ensure it stays looking great. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to mowing, watering, fertilizing, and maintaining your Zoysia lawn.

Zoysia grass should be cut every 10 to 14 days, varying slightly depending on the season and how often you water and fertilize it. Keep it trimmed to 1.5 to 2″ inches year-round for best results, and never trim more than ⅓ of its total length at a time.

Keep reading to learn more about Zoysia grass and how to mow, water, and look after it in general for the best-looking lawn possible.

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Knowing how to cut Zoysia grass is important for keeping your lawn looking nice.

How Often Should You Mow Zoysia Grass?

In general, Zoysia grass should be mowed roughly every 10 days, but this varies depending on the season and how often you water and fertilize your lawn. During its active growing season, mowing once a week is recommended. During its dormant season, mowing is usually only needed every 14 days.

Mowing Zoysia grass regularly is key to keeping your lawn looking healthy, full, and green, but knowing how often to mow is just as important! 

Zoysia doesn’t grow particularly quickly compared to most other lawngrasses, so you don’t have to mow it as often. 

A regular mow every week or two, depending on the season, is generally enough to keep it at a reasonable length without damaging it.

Additionally, a good rule of thumb with any kind of grass–including Zoysia–is to never mow more than ⅓ of the grass’ total height at a time. 

Keeping your mower blades sharp will also ensure an even cut and prevent leaving your lawn susceptible to various damaging lawn diseases and fungi.

What is the Best Height to Cut Zoysia Grass?

Keep your Zoysia grass trimmed to a height of around 1.5 to 2″ inches. Cutting lower than this increases the risk of “scalping” your lawn and damaging it, turning it brown and yellow. During its slower-growing dormant season, keeping Zoysia at around 2 to 2.5″ inches in height is acceptable.

While some types of lawngrasses can tolerate being trimmed down to an inch or less, Zoysia needs to be kept a bit taller to stay healthy and green. 

While you’re probably tempted to trim it short to minimize thatch buildup, hold off on mowing unless your Zoysia grass has reached 2″ + inches in height and never cut more than ⅓ of the grass’ total length at once.

Since Zoysia is a warm-season grass, it will grow much faster during the spring and summer when conditions are warmer and wetter. 

This means you’ll need to mow a bit more often during this time, but on the flip side, you’ll also be able to get away with mowing less frequently during its dormant season. 

Overall, though, it’s best to wait until your lawn is at least 2″ inches tall on average to avoid putting too much stress on it with excess mowing. 

While Zoysia is hardy and tolerates foot traffic well, it is easily damaged if it’s trimmed too short or too often.

When Should You Cut Zoysia Grass?

You should mow your Zoysia grass once it is at least 2 to 2.5″ inches tall, or roughly every 7 to 14 days depending on the season, how much water it’s been getting, and how often you’re fertilizing it. Additionally, be sure to never trim more than ⅓ of its total length at a time.

While 7 to 14 days is a good general recommendation for how often you should cut your Zoysia grass, this varies depending on a range of factors: 

  • The season
  • How much rainfall you’ve gotten recently
  • Your maintenance habits 
  • How often you’re watering 
  • How often you’re fertilizing

Instead, look to how long your Zoysia grass is at any given time to determine if it’s time for another cut. 

Never trim Zoysia below 1.5″ inches, regardless of the season, as it becomes extremely fragile and prone to yellowing beyond this cutting height. 

On inclines and uneven areas of your lawn, it’s best to keep Zoysia slightly higher, or just below 2″ inches. 

This mowing height is recommended to prevent scalping and an uneven cut and damaged grass.

By paying close attention to how quickly your Zoysia grows in your area and how your maintenance habits affect its growth, you’ll be able to gradually get a better idea of how often you’ll need to mow.

Should You Bag Zoysia Grass When Cutting?

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Do you want to bag Zoysia grass when cutting or leave it to fertilize the yard?

It’s always a good idea to bag your Zoysia grass while mowing. This prevents clumps of grass clippings from building up on the surface of your lawn and cuts down on the thatch layer you’ll eventually need to get rid of anyway.

Bagging your Zoysia grass during every mow is a wonderfully simple way to cut down on the overall maintenance you’ll need to do each season. 

If you leave the grass clippings on your lawn, they will encourage various lawn diseases, increase thatch buildup, and generally make your entire lawn look uneven and unattractive.

Additionally, if your Zoysia is constantly covered in old grass clippings, it won’t be able to take in as much sunlight, water, or nutrients from fertilizer. 

This, in turn, causes Zoysia lawns to quickly turn yellow and brown and die off. 

Overall, bagging your clippings every mow takes very little extra effort, cuts down on the potential for damage, and keeps your healthy Zoysia lawn looking consistently healthy and well-manicured. 

If you’re able to buy and use a bagger with your mower, it’s highly recommended to do so or invest in one as soon as possible.

Can You Reel Mow Zoysia Grass?

Reel mowers work very well with Zoysia grass as their blades are very sharp when maintained properly. Depending on the brand of reel mower you use, you’ll likely be able to attach a grass catcher to collect clippings as you mow. Overall, a reel-type mower will ensure a cleaner cut than rotary mowers.

While it’s certainly possible to use a rotary mower on Zoysia grass, if possible, it’s best to use a reel mower. 

While this isn’t necessarily viable or practical for very large lawns, reel mowers act sort of like sharp, fast-moving scissors, providing a perfectly even cut every time. 

If you don’t use a high-quality lawn mower with sharp mower blades every time, you risk an uneven cut and torn, damaged grass, which is extremely susceptible to lawn diseases and fungi.

Depending on the size of your lawn and how willing you are to go the extra mile for healthy grass, using a reel lawn mower is one of the best ways to make sure your grass is always cut cleanly and evenly. 

You just won’t be able to get quite as precise of a cut with the more dull mower blades of a typical rotary type of mower, and Zoysia is one of a few grass varieties uniquely fragile to uneven cuts and tearing. 

How Often Should You Water Zoysia Grass?

Avoiding overwatering Zoysia grass is crucial, as it is fragile and prone to damage when overwatered. In general, Zoysia only needs about 1″ inch of water per week. This translates to around one watering per week during its growing season and one watering every two weeks during its dormant season.

In general, Zoysia requires less water than most other popular lawn grasses, and it is a highly drought-tolerant, tough grass for the most part. 

However, while this variety of grass is very hardy for foot traffic, its tolerance for overwatering is very low. 

Overall, watering once a week or so is recommended. 

Still, you’ll need to adjust this slightly if you’ve recently received heavy rainfall or if conditions have been hotter and drier than usual.

Additionally, you won’t need to water quite as often during Zoysia’s dormant season–biweekly waterings are usually enough to keep your lawn healthy and hydrated during the cooler fall and winter months. 

Zoysia grows very thick and establishes very deep roots, retaining water, especially well when conditions aren’t as great for active growth!

How Do You Make Zoysia Grass Thicker?

Use a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) once a month or so during the spring and summer to thicken your Zoysia grass. Additionally, mowing regularly, aerating your lawn every season, and dethatching at least once per season will encourage thicker healthier grass.

If not cared for properly, Zoysia risks looking thin, yellow, and patchy. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of measures you’ll be able to take to keep your lawn looking lush and green year-round. 

Perhaps the most important of these measures, though, is ensuring you’re using the right fertilizer for warm-season lawns like Zoysia grass.

Generally, Zoysia needs a fertilizer with around a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 NPK ratio. 

This is simply the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio in the fertilizer–three essential nutrients most healthy lawns need to thrive. 

We recommend using something like Medina 12-4-8 HastaGro Lawn once a month during Zoysia’s active growing season or from around March to August.

Aside from fertilizing, you should do a few other things to improve the quality of your soil and lawn overall. 

Sticking to a regular mowing schedule and only trimming up to ⅓ of your lawn’s total length at a time will keep your lawn thick but also avoid scalping and leaving the leaf tips prone to damage. 

Avoid using dull blades to prevent tearing and damaging your grass lawn.

Aerating your soil is another great way to ensure your Zoysia’s roots can take up as much moisture and nutrients as possible. 

Regardless of the aeration method you choose, aerating once every season is a great way to prevent compacted soil and keep your beautiful lawn looking great.

Finally, dethatching every season is also important to keep any lawn–including Zoysia–healthy, green, and strong.

Regular thatch removal and frequent mowing will also go a long way in ensuring your Zoysia grass can absorb all the sunlight, water, and nutrients it needs.

What Kind of Fertilizer Should You Use on Zoysia?

For Zoysia grass, a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 NPK ratio is best for healthy growth. Apply it once a month during the active growing season and immediately after your lawn has come out of its dormant season for best results.

While Zoysia benefits from various types of fertilizers, something with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 NPK ratio is the best choice to keep it healthy and strong regardless of the season. 

Fertilizing at the beginning of spring and again every following month of the growing season will ensure your lawn gets the nutrients it needs to develop strong, deep roots and tall, green blades. 

Using the right kind of fertilizer will also strengthen your lawn and prepare it for its dormant season, which is especially useful during particularly rough winters. 

As we touched on earlier, although Zoysia is quite hardy for heavy foot traffic, it is quite weak to the elements, particularly during its dormant period. 

If you want your attractive lawn to bounce back with no issues each year, fertilizing during the growing season–with the right kind of fertilizer–is essential!

Check out our picks for the best fertilizer for Zoysia grass.

What Time of Day Should You Mow Zoysia Grass?

You should mow your lawn in the mid-morning or early afternoon when the grass is as dry as possible for best results. Between the hours of 10 AM and 12 PM is best, as the air temperature isn’t too hot, and your lawn will have absorbed any moisture from the early morning by this point.

For most types of grass, including Zoysia, you should always mow sometime in the early afternoon or mid-morning on a dry, sunny day if possible. 

Any moisture from the early morning dew or your regular waterings has been absorbed by this point. 

And the air temperature isn’t too hot yet during the spring or summer between the hours of 10 AM and 12 PM.

After around noon or so, the air temperature usually rises significantly, meaning your lawn will be even more stressed out due to the heat on top of the mowing session. 

This also gives your grass plenty of time to recover from the cut before the sun sets once more. 

Damaged grass, especially the rather fragile Zoysia, is especially susceptible to lawn diseases, which usually occur during the evening and nighttime when conditions are more moist and cool.

Overall, mowing early–but not too early–regularly is best to ensure your beautiful Zoysia lawn stays healthy and lush and maintains its rich, green color.