Does Zoysia Grass Spread? (How to Make it Fill in Fast)

Zoysia is a popular turf in southern parts of the United States. It is a hardy perennial grass that is able to deal with heavy foot traffic, drought, and humid conditions. Once established, Zoysia provides a dense lawn with little maintenance requirements. But, does Zoysia grass spread?

Yes, Zoysia spreads by above-ground stems called stolons and underground stems called rhizomes to form a very dense carpet-like lawn. However, it spread slower than most lawn grasses and it may take two to three years to form a thick dense lawn.

Does Zoysia Grass Spread? (How Fast)

Zoysia grass seed germinates in 14 to 21 days but the grass will spread and establish slowly as compared to other warm-season grasses. In the right growth conditions, this perennial turf will take two to three years to form a thick dense lawn that is tolerant to heavy foot traffic, weeds, and drought.

Zoysia spreads slowly by above-ground stems (stolons) and underground stems known as rhizomes. Whether you plant it from grass seed or grass plugs, you’ll wait longer for an establishment. When actively growing, Zoysia will remain light to medium green in appearance.

Being a warm-season grass, Zoysia’s active growth peaks in mid-spring to hot summer. When winter sets in, this turf will start turning brown slowly by slowly. However, you may decide to overseed your Zoysia lawn with cool season ryegrass to enjoy a green winter lawn.

Zoysia naturally grows a deep root system that makes it efficient at obtaining and conserving moisture during drought. This is why it remains green during short drought seasons. Persistent heat and drought will make Zoysia grass turn brown (go dormant) but upon watering the grass greens up again.

Zoysia loves full sun but it will not disappoint under partial shade. It is tolerant to cold conditions which allow it to flourish under trees. Zoysia also does well in the transition zone (areas between the north and south parts of the United States).

How to Make Zoysia Grass Spread Faster

Slow growth is one of the know Zoysia grass problems. The rate at which Zoysia grass spreads or fills in typically depends on how you maintain it, the variety of Zoysia, or the climate conditions in which you are growing it.

Here is how to make your Zoysia grass spread or fill in bare spots faster:

1. Periodically conduct soil testing

Soil testing is an important step in starting and maintaining any form of a lawn. It determines soil pH and nutrient availability in the soil. Before you start a new lawn or fix any bare spots, take a sample of soil to a nearby garden center or Agricultural extension office for testing. Amend your soil as recommended in the soil testing report.

Zoysia grass prefers soil pH between 5.8 and 7.0 and you have to maintain this pH range for your grass to spread faster. You can lime your lawn to raise the pH or apply aluminum sulfate to acidify the soil.

2. Fertilize at least twice a year

When seeding your lawn or planting Zoysia grass plugs, ensure to apply starter fertilizer. 4 to 6 weeks after planting apply a well-balanced regular lawn fertilizer. Keep feeding your lawn at least twice a year especially when the grass is growing most rapidly. While doing this, avoid over-fertilization.

3. Provide 1 inch of water per week

Continuous watering of new grass seed is recommended. Established Zoysia lawns need 1 inch of water per week. This deep but not frequent watering of Zoysia will encourage deep root formation that helps the turf be resistant to drought.

4. Mow it at 1 to 2 inches

Mow your Zoysia lawn as soon as it actively greens up. That should be when the soil temperatures warm to about 65°F. Mow the lawn at 1 to 2 inches tall and maintain the one-third mowing rule (Never remove more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing)

5. Timely control of weeds

Established Zoysia grass lawn makes it hard for weeds to grow. However, when there are bare spots, weeds like dandelions, nutgrass, crabgrass, and others will sprout. Use a recommended weed and feed formula to tackle the weeds which at the same time nourishes your lawn. Do not reseed treated areas until after 3 to 4 weeks.

During fall and 7 weeks to frost, treat Zoysia grass for broad-leaf weeds. Use a recommended pre-emergent herbicide that will kill weeds and stop them from sprouting when spring comes. During winter, you may also spot-treat winter weeds.

6. Overseed your lawn

Overseed your zoysia lawn in late spring or early summer to deal with thin or bare spots. This should be done when there are no frost threats. Zoysia grass usually germinates best with soil temperatures between 65°F to 70°F.  If you are planning to overseed for a green winter lawn, do it when the grass starts to brown and when nighttime temperatures are consistently lower than 65°F.

7. Manage fall leaves

During fall, most trees and shrubs will start shedding. You should rake or mulch fallen leaves to prevent your Zoysia grass from smothering under a heavy cover of leaves. As you wait for winter, clear your lawn off any debris like stones and tree branches.

Advantages of Zoysia Grass (Why you should choose it)

Despite its slow growth rate, Zoysia is loved by many homeowners due to the following reasons:

  1. Water efficient turf – Zoysia grass needs only ½ – 1 inch of water per week to remain green. This makes it ideal for areas that experience drought or for a homeowner with little time to water the lawn.
  2. Hardy and durable – Zoysia grass lawn can withstand moderate foot traffic. This makes it favorable turf in sports arenas like golf courses.
  3. Low maintenance – Zoysia grass grows relatively slowly, which means it has reduced mowing requirements. Its dense carpet-like establishment chokes weeds out.
  4. Drought tolerant – Zoysia has a deep root system that allows it to draw and retain moisture from the soil during drought. The dense turf also keeps the roots cool in heat as it also limits the evaporation of the available moisture.
  5. Shade-tolerant grass – Although it prefers full sun, Zoysia can still grow under shade as long as it receives at least 4 hours of direct sunlight.

Final Thought

Zoysia is a warm-season grass that spreads slowly but forms a thick dense lawn tolerant to drought, weeds, and heavy foot traffic. With patience and proper care, Zoysia will offer the most durable low maintenance lawn that every homeowner will love to have.


  1. The University of Maryland Extension, Planting and Maintaining a Zoysia Lawn
  2. The University of Missouri Extension, Establishment and Care of Zoysiagrass Lawns
  3. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Zoysiagrass Lawns in New Jersey

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