Which Zoysia Varieties to Plant on Southern Lawns

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The climate in the southern US is known for being hot, dry, and unfriendly to many non-native plant species. This can be a challenge for anyone who dreams of a beautifully smooth lawn, but it certainly doesn’t make that dream an impossibility; they just have to choose the right grass! As it happens, Zoysia is a great choice for southern lawns. Not only is it resistant to heat and drought, but it also looks amazing under all but the harshest conditions. Zeon Zoysia, for example, is famous for its emerald green color and insect-resistant properties. Other varieties are similarly hardy, but offer different physical characteristics that mean you’ll have plenty to choose from. Not all Zoysia varieties are necessarily ideal for southern lawns, but several of them are. To find out more, just keep reading!

Emerald Zoysia

Just like with most Zoysia varieties, Emerald Zoysia is highly drought-resistant and (as you’d expect) has a bright emerald color. In contrast to some popular varieties, though, this fine-bladed grass is more shade-tolerant. In fact, it comes close to St. Augustine in the amount of shade it can handle. It won’t thrive without full sunlight, but up to 21 hours of shade per day won’t be a problem. Provided it gets between three and four hours of full sun daily, that’s usually plenty for healthy growth.

What to expect with Emerald Zoysia:

  • Soft feel on bare feet
  • Turns green early every spring
  • Drought tolerant
  • Shade tolerant
  • Has an intense emerald color

Cavalier Zoysia

This is another fine-bladed type of Zoysia, and is only a bit less shade-tolerant than Emerald Zoysia. Cavalier Zoysia grows somewhat slowly for this type of grass, meaning it won’t have to be mown as often. It’s resistant to bugs, disease, and drought, and has fine blades which are almost like Bermuda grass. This type of Zoysia has a dark green color that’s prized by people who want a luxurious, thick lawn.

What to expect with Cavalier Zoysia:

  • Dense growth and fine blades
  • Drought tolerant
  • Shade tolerant
  • Dark green color
  • Slow growing time/lower maintenance

Zeon Zoysia

As a “premium” fine-bladed Zoysia, Zeon Zoysia will give you the look of a high-maintenance lawn without requiring the work. The high temperatures of southern climates won’t be an issue for Zeon Zoysia, but neither will colder temperatures – it’s pretty adaptable to both heat and cold. For those who want a grass with a longer growing season, this is a great choice. Zeon Zoysia turns green as soon as temperatures start warming up, and stays that way fairly late into the year compared to other Zoysia varieties. Growth is always quick, and it’s resistant to both insects and diseases. Since the blades are quite fine, the buildup of thatch is slow – another win for a low-maintenance lawn.

What to expect from Zeon Zoysia

  • Drought and shade tolerant
  • Fine blades of grass
  • Insect- and disease-resistant
  • Slower thatch buildup
  • Dark green color

Palisades Zoysia

If you need grass that can fill in bare areas and grow quickly in spite of heavy foot traffic, Palisades Zoysia may be the best choice for your yard. It’s fairly shade tolerant, and only needs about 1.5 – 2 inches of water each week. Plenty of full sunlight is ideal, but six hours a day will still keep this grass happy and healthy. This Zoysia variety has a coarser texture than others, with a high-density growth that’s very resilient against environmental stressors.

What to expect with Palisades Zoysia

  • Drought tolerant
  • Somewhat shade tolerant
  • Medium green color
  • Recuperates quickly from foot traffic, drought, etc.
  • Medium-sized blades with dense growth


Important information on growing Zoysia

Regardless of which variety you’ve chosen, Zoysia grasses tend to like mostly the same growing conditions. Areas with long summers, intense sunlight, and not too much rainfall are where Zoysia grows best. There’s some flexibility with this since it’s such a hardy grass, but not too much! If you want to know whether Zoysia would be good for your southern lawn, the information below might provide some clarity.

  • Zoysia water requirements

Anyone who’s tried to maintain a lawn in the southern US knows the value of grass with low water requirements – which is partly why Zoysia is so popular there! Most Zoysia varieties need between one and two inches of water per week in order to flourish; even with harsh watering restrictions, a lawn of Zoysia grass can still survive.

  • Zoysia fertilizer requirements

As long as you allow the grass clippings to act as a natural compost, most types of Zoysia won’t need any extra fertilizer. That being said, certain varieties benefit from nitrogen fertilizer for an occasional boost. In that case, you’ll need anywhere from two to four pounds of fertilizer per thousand square feet of lawn.

  • Zoysia sunlight requirements

Most people have trees, fences, or something else on their property casting shade for certain hours of the day; this is why it’s important for the grass to be at least somewhat shade-tolerant. If nothing else, the house will cast a shadow throughout the day. Several Zoysia varieties are shade-tolerant, which makes them perfect for urban settings. Full sunlight is ideal, but even the parts of the yard that are under trees or along fences can still grow well as long as they get a few hours of sunlight each day.

  • Best hardiness zones for Zoysia

This grass grows best in hardiness zones 9 to 11 – warm, sunny climates and long summers. However, they can also survive in zones 6 to 8. They’ll have a shorter growing season due to the cooler temperatures, but you’ll still get a lush green lawn during the summer. As long as you live in hardiness zone 6 or more and get plenty of full sun, Zoysia would make a great choice for your yard.

The takeaway

Southern lawns require hardy grasses that can withstand heat, drought, insects, and even occasional cold temperatures – and these Zoysia varieties can take it all. Plus, they offer a dense, bountiful growth that will keep your lawn looking amazing year after year.