Last Updated on May 17, 2021

Why Is My Zoysia Grass Dying?

Everyone hopes for that perfect lawn! You know the one…the lawn with the perfectly green grass that everyone admires as they drive by?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your grass just doesn’t want to cooperate. If you have browning Zoysia grass, and you can’t figure out how to help it, keep reading! We’ll talk about all things Zoysia, including its preferences, how to care for it, and how to help get it green again.

What is Zoysia grass?

Zoysia grass is a durable, dense grass. With the proper care, it makes a beautiful lawn!

Zoysia climate zones

Zoysia is a warm-season grass. Some varieties are more cold tolerant than others. Most Zoysia is heat and drought tolerant. It is perfect for what is called the ‘transition zone.’

The transition zone runs right across the center of the country. This climate area is too warm for cool-season grasses like tall fescue but too cold for true warm-season grass like Bermudagrass.

Zoysia can thrive in southern regions, like Florida, as well. Its hardy heat tolerance can stand up to most southern summers. Zoysia grass doesn’t need a lot of water and has relatively good drought tolerance.

A variety like Palisades Zoysia grass is extremely popular in southern states.

LawnGrassMap
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LawnGrassMap.jpg

Zoysia characteristics

Zoysia grass grows slowly, but once it grows, it forms a very thick, dense carpet of grass. This is the reason it is the preferred grass for golf courses! It’s so dense; the golf balls will sit on top of the grass.

Thick grass like Zoysia also does not get very many weeds. It is so thick; the weeds can’t make their way through the thatch. It likes full sun, but some varieties are shade tolerant.

Zoysia grass has deep roots that help it stay healthy even during a drought. It has stems above and below the soil line. Homeowners with high-traffic lawns will love how well Zoysia grass stands up to wear and tear.

Zoysia history

Zoysia grass started in Asia. American homeowners started growing Zoysia in the late 1800s when lawns came into style.

Why does Zoysia grass turn brown?

Since Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass, it goes dormant during the cold season. When the temperature starts to drop, Zoysia will turn brown. Typically, the entire lawn will turn brown at about the same time when it goes dormant. There is no need to do anything for a dormant lawn. Wait for spring, and it will turn green again!

When does Zoysia grass go dormant?

Zoysia grass goes dormant in the winter. It will go dormant after the first killing frost. Once the ground temperature reaches 50 degrees, the grass will ‘wake up’ and turn green again.

Why is my Zoysia grass turning yellow?

There are a lot of reasons Zoysia grass can turn yellow. Sometimes, the solution may be as simple as watering a little more often. Often, though, yellow grass is an indicator of another problem, such as a pest or disease (see below).

What is killing my Zoysia grass?

Even though Zoysia grass is sturdy and hardy, it isn’t immune to problems. There are many reasons that this happens.

Pests and Diseases

Brown Spot

Brown spot is a fungal disease that affects Zoysia. It starts with just a few spots but can quickly spread. It looks like a brown ring with a green center. Avoid watering in the evening. A fungicide will also help.

Leaf Patch

Unlike brown spot, leaf spot is caused by too little water and fertilizer. Up your watering and fertilizer game, and the leaf spot should disappear.

Rust

Rust is a fungus that develops during cool nights. Apply a fungicide, and make sure the grass is as dry as possible in the evening. Once rust is present in the grass, it can spread. Stop the spread by bagging lawn clippings.

Chinch bugs

Chinch bugs are small black and red insects that love to snack on Zoysia lawns in sunny areas. To determine if you have chinch bugs, pull up a clump of the brown grass. Look for red and black bugs in the soil right under the grass.

If you have chinch bugs, spot treat the affected areas with insecticidal soap. Repeat the application every two weeks. Avoid a heavy duty insecticide unless the chinch bug infestation is extreme. A broad range insecticide will also kill beneficial insects and may make the problem worse.

Too much shade

While some varieties of Zoysia are shade resistant, others do much better in full sun. Your Zoysia may not be thriving because it is not getting enough sun.

Thatch buildup

Because Zoysia has a thick stem system, the soil can become compacted. This makes it more difficult for water and nutrients to reach the grass roots. Aeration and dethatching are recommended for all grasses, but especially grass with thick thatch, like Zoysia.

Cold climate

Zoysia is a warm-season grass. If you are too far north and have frequent cold weather, your Zoysia may be trying to go dormant at the wrong time.

What is the best way to care for Zoysia grass?

Fertilizer

Zoysia grass is relatively low maintenance. It doesn’t need a lot of nitrogen. It may only need a round of fertilizer in the spring and then another application in the fall.

Water

Zoysia grass is a warm climate favorite due to its heat and drought resistance. It does best with around one inch of water per week. Heavy periodic moisture prompts deep root growth.

Mowing

Zoysia grows slowly. The recommended grass height for zoysia grass is between one and one-and-a-half inches tall.

Overseeding

It is best to overseed Zoysia grass in the spring after the last frost. This will give it all summer to thrive and grow!

Aerating

Aerating punches holes in the surface 2-3 inches deep. This allows water and nutrients to make their way to the roots of your grass.

Dethatching

Because Zoysia forms a thick layer of thatch, it is helpful to dethatch every year. Dethatching is a process where the thatch layer right over the soil is removed with a rake. You can do it yourself or hire a lawn company. Dethatching helps air and water reach the soil.

Final thoughts

Zoysia grass is a great grass option for southern climates! It is low-maintenance and heat, and drought resistant! Unfortunately, sometimes it can succumb to brown patches. Determine the cause of the dying grass and determine a course of treatment. You should enjoy a healthy, green lawn again soon!


Author: Matt Hagens

Hi, I’m Matt the owner of Obsessed Lawn. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Learn more about me and find me on Facebook.