Types of Zoysia Grass

There are several types of Zoysia grass to consider as you plan your lawn. This lawn care guide provides an overview of the types of zoysia grass and will help you decide which one will be most successful in your yard.

Japonica, Matrella and Tenuifolia Zoysia Grass

These are the names of the three Zoysia varieties that were used to create all of the commercial Zoysia grass types currently being grown in the United States. Here’s an overview of each one:

Japonica: This Zoysia grass has a medium texture. Like all Zoysia varieties, it grows slowly but spreads its rhizomes and stolons with great determination. This grass will hold its own against crab grass and weeds. Japonica varieties have been developed for tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. This variety has the highest tolerance for cold of the three. All Zoysia seeds currently being sold are Japonica varieties.

Matrella: Also called Manila grass because it was brought to the U.S. from the Philippines, it has a finer texture than Japonica. Matrella/Manila is best suited to tropical and subtropical regions.

Tenuifolia: This Zoysia variety has the finest blades of any variety. Tenuifolia makes a great ground cover where it will not be mowed. It is the least tolerant to cold weather.

Commercial Varieties of Zoysia Grass

Zenith: This type was developed from Japonica grass and is the most common type that can be grown from seed because of its tolerance for cold. It takes a long growing season to get a Zoysia turf lawn established. Plugs, sprigs and sod are also available. Zenith has a bright green hue with a bit of a shine.

Empire: Developed from Japonica, this is the toughest of the Zoysia grasses. It is resistant to drought and insects and holds up very well to foot traffic. It requires less fertilizer and water than most warm grass varieties. Empire is the most tolerant Zoysia grass to cold.

Meyer: Another offspring of Japonica, it is popular in Korea and does quite well in the U.S. Meyer seed was available in the past, but it does not grow as quickly or have the cold tolerance or Zenith. Growth from seed is not viable in most regions. The leaf of Meyer Zoysia is one of the broadest of any variety. Meyer may be called Amazoy or Z52 commercially.

El Toro: This is one of the fastest-growing Zoysia varieties and has a broader width. It’s another Japonica variety and is the best choice for shaded areas, being able to tolerate partial shade quite well. This variety requires less water than most.
Emerald: The Emerald variety is a hybrid developed from Japonica and Tenuifolia. It does better in partial shade than most Zoysia grasses, but prefers full sun. Emerald Zoysia has a fine texture. This deep-green grass grows quickly compared with other Zoysia varieties, and so it is a popular choice for golf courses and athletic fields.

Compadre: This variety was first called Companion but is now most widely known as Compadre. It needs less water and fertilizer than most Zoysia varieties, making it eco-friendly as well as easy to maintain. It grows very densely, so it is a good choice for golf courses, parks, athletic fields and residential laws. It may be started from seed in very warm regions with plenty of rainfall.

Note: These varieties can be grown from seed only where mentioned. Otherwise, sod, plugs or sprigs are your options for getting a Zoysia lawn established. Use this information as well as our other Zoysia grass articles to choose the variety that is right for your growing conditions.


  1. The number one rated zoysia in the world is Zorro. It is a matrella and commercially avialable.