Zoysia vs Bermuda Grass: Difference + Choice Comparisons

Have you been thinking of changing the grass on your lawn, and you are torn between Zoysia and Bermuda grasses? Both Zoysia and Bermuda are prevalent warm-weather grasses with strong qualities.

However, these grasses have notable differences in their tolerance to cold and traffic, growth rate, color, and ease of recovery from damage. 

In summary, the following are the major differences between Zoysia and Bermuda grass:

Zoysia GrassBermuda Grass
Spreads slowly and can take two to three years to completely cover a lawn.Spreads faster and thus take only one year to cover a lawn.
Need about 4 hours of full sunlight thus suitable for shade and lawns under trees.Need full sunlight to thrive thus not suitable for shade.
Has low tolerance to cold soil temperatures.More tolerant to cold soil temperatures.
Less tolerant to foot traffic thus only suitable for home lawns.Highly tolerant to foot traffic thus suitable for gold courses and sports fields.
Low-maintenance turf with fewer requirements for watering and mowing.Has high maintenance requirements as it needs regular mowing.
Can thrive in clay soil.Thrives in sandy or well-draining soil.

Zoysia vs. Bermuda – Differences

Here is a detailed comparison between Zoysia and Bermuda

Growth rate

Bermuda grass grows aggressively and will cover a lawn entirely within one year. Zoysia, on the other hand, grows relatively slowly and will take between two to three years to cover the lawn completely.

Although this might seem like a bad thing, when fully established, Zoysia’s slow growth rate will be a blessing because you won’t have to mow it very often. However, you can make zoysia spread and fill in faster by overseeding bare spots, fertilizing, and watering weekly.

Zoysia’s mowing height should be 1 – 2 inches, while Bermuda’s should be 0.5 – 1.5 inches. If not mowed on time, Bermuda grass will encroach on the sidewalk and flowerbeds, which is very annoying. Zoysia also grows to a very thick turf that helps choke weeds.


Both Zoysia and Bermuda types of grass have many cultivars, each with a different color. When choosing the grass based on color, Zoysia vs. Bermuda comparison might not yield the best result; instead, you should compare the different cultivars of each.

For example, Empire Zoysia has a dark green color, Palisades Zoysia is light green, and Celebration Bermuda has a deep blue-green color. 

Blade size and texture

One of the most notable differences between Zoysia and Bermuda grass is the difference in blade width. Zoysia blades are bigger and range from 5 – 7 mm, except for the matrella variety which has a blade of 2 mm. 

Bermuda blade, on the other hand, is smaller, ranging from 1.5 – 1.7 mm.

Shade tolerance

Bermuda grass needs full sunlight to grow. When under shade, it gets thin and is likely to suffer from diseases such as fungal infection and root rot. Bermuda grass is not a good choice for a yard with trees as it requires at least seven hours of direct sunlight in a day.

However, although Zoysia does better under full sun, it can still thrive under shade as long as it gets at least four hours of direct sunlight daily. 

Temperature requirements

Both Bermuda and Zoysia are tropical grasses that require a soil temperature of 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, their tolerance to cold weather differs as Bermuda can tolerate lower temperatures than Zoysia.

According to USDA, the Hardiness Zone for Zoysia is 6 to 9, while for Bermuda is 7 to 10. In temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, Zoysia grass will enter dormancy and turn brown. 

Wear tolerance and recovery

Bermuda grass can tolerate a lot of foot traffic and will also recover from injuries quickly. This is why it is found in golf courses and sports fields. If you have kids playing in the yard or love to hold parties, Bermuda might be the grass you are looking for.

Although Zoysia can tolerate foot traffic, its tolerance and recovery are moderate. 

Drought tolerance

Both Bermuda and Zoysia grass require one inch of water per week for routine maintenance and can survive for some time without water. However, Bermuda grass can resist and tolerate drought more than Zoysia.

Soil type and pH

Both types of grass can grow in various soils, including sand and loam. Zoysia will also do well in clay soil, but Bermuda will not because it thrives better in well-draining soil. Bermuda grows better around coastal areas because of the sandy soil and its high tolerance to salt.

Zoysia grows better in soils with a pH of 5.8 – 7, while Bermuda requires a pH of 6.5 – 8. Both kinds of grass need nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, etc., to thrive.

Pest and diseases

Zoysia and Bermuda are all prone to pests and diseases. Common diseases for Zoysia are brown spots, brown patches, and pythium. It is also prone to pests such as chinch bugs and billbugs.

Bermuda is usually affected by diseases such as dollar spots, spring dead spots, and leaf spots. Pests that affect Bermuda grass are grass mites, billbugs, grub worms, and fall armyworms. Ensure to treat the grass with the appropriate insecticide or fungicide.

Between Zoysia and Bermuda, which is better?

A turf comparison between Zoysia and Bermuda grasses will come down to what a specific homeowner wants. Zoysia has strong characteristics that beat Bermuda in some areas and vice versa. Let’s look at their pros and cons:

Pros of Zoysia grass

Zoysia grass comes with the following benefits:

  1. Water efficient – Zoysia grass needs only ½ – 1 inch of water per week to remain green. It is ideal for a homeowner with little time to water the lawn. 
  2. Durable – it can withstand moderate foot traffic. 
  3. Moderate maintenance – Zoysia grass grows relatively slowly, meaning it has reduced mowing requirements. It also forms a thick mat that chokes weed out.
  4. Drought tolerant – its thick turf keeps the roots cool and helps retain moisture. The deep roots allow it to draw moisture from the soil.
  5. Shade tolerant – Although it grows best under full sun, it can still grow under shade as long as it gets at least 4 hours of direct sunlight.
  6. Available in a variety of cultivars.

Cons of Zoysia Grass

In addition to various Zoysia grass problems, this turf has the following disadvantages:

  1. Zoysia grass will enter dormancy when the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not ideal for a homeowner looking for all-year-round green grass.
  2. Hard to establish – it takes more than two years to establish.
  3. Slow injury recovery – it takes time to recover from injuries and, therefore, is not a good choice for high foot traffic areas.

Pros of Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass has the following advantages over other warm-season grasses:

  1. Durable – The grass can tolerate high foot traffic and have a high injury recovery rate.
  2. Drought tolerant – The grass requires only one inch of water weekly and can go for some time without water. Even when it enters dormancy due to severe water shortage, it will still bounce back when watered.
  3. Quick growth rate – Bermuda grass will grow and cover a lawn within a year.

Cons of Bermuda Grass

Expect the following shortfalls from Bermuda grass:

  1. Require frequent mowing and edging due to its fast growth. It can quickly encroach the sidewalk and flowerbeds if not mowed on time.
  2. Require full sun to thrive – Bermuda grass will not do well in cold weather and under shade. It is not ideal for a lawn with trees.

To make a perfect choice between Zoysia and Bermuda, you will have to consider the soil conditions in your yard, the amount of foot traffic you expect, and the time you have to provide care for your lawn.


Both Zoysia and Bermuda grass are excellent choices for a warm area. They have many cultivars, and you will be spoilt for choice. However, it is important to compare their pros and cons to see which suits you best.

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