Best Fertilizer For Zoysia Grass | How And When To Use It

Zoysia grass is one of the most popular grass species in the southern United States, Australia, and similar climates around the world. If you live in one of these regions, there’s a very good chance your lawn consists of zoysia grass.

While zoysia grass is preferred for its drought resistance, it still requires adequate nutrition to grow as green and healthy as possible. Naturally, fertilizer is the most efficient way to ensure your lawn gets the nutrients it needs.

Fertilizing a lawn is really no different than feeding any other plant. But it’s easy for the average homeowner to feel overwhelmed. So rather than force you to go out and find the best fertilizer for zoysia grass on your own, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites plus some expert advice to help you get the best results.

Best Zoysia Grass Fertilizers

Simple Lawn Solutions Nitrogen & Potash Liquid Feed 15-0-15

Best Hose End Spray

Nitrogen & Potash Liquid Feed 15-0-15

Complete with a spray hose attachment, this pre-mixed formula offers coverage of up to 3,200 sq. ft. Suitable for use throughout the growing season and in phosphate-restricted areas.

Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10

Best Fertilizer Granules

Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10

Offers slow-release nutrients for established lawns and soil that may be prone to nutrient deficiencies. Suitable for use throughout the growing season. These granules offer even coverage and provide strong root growth and vibrant color in as little as 1-2 weeks.

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass 24-25-4

Best Fertilizer For New Grass

Scotts Turf Builder Starter 24-25-4

This high nitrogen and phosphorus feed provides new grass with the boost needed to quickly establish roots and get healthy growth underway. Suitable for use on fresh sod and newly sown grass seed right up until the first mow.

Choosing The Best Fertilizer For Zoysia Grass

Despite its overall hardiness, zoysia grass needs a fertilizer high in nitrogen. It also requires a good amount of potassium to help it resist the arid conditions it’s often grown in. Typically, zoysia grass requires little or no additional phosphorus.

The quickest and easiest way to determine whether fertilizer is appropriate for zoysia grass is by looking at the N-P-K ratio. This ratio is present on all store-bought fertilizers and shows the amount of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in each formula.

A few examples of appropriate N-P-K ratios for zoysia grass include 15-0-15, 29-0-3, and 16-4-8.

Fertilizer vs Weed And Feed

Fertilizer is essentially a multivitamin for your lawn. Weed and feed is a fertilizer with herbicide mixed in.

The main benefit of using weed and feed versus regular fertilizer is that it takes care of two backyard chores in a single step.

There aren’t many drawbacks to using weed and feeding on your zoysia grass. However, I recommend using it only when it’s actually necessary. If weeds aren’t a problem on your lawn, skip the herbicide and opt for a pure fertilizer instead.

I also suggest double-checking your chosen weed and feed product to ensure it will actually work on the weeds plaguing your yard. Not all herbicides work on all weeds. You’ll need to identify the species ailing your zoysia grass and select a weed and feed product to match.

Organic Vs Synthetic

Organic fertilizers are called such because they are made up of animal or planted-based matter. Expect to see blood meal, bone meal, worm castings to name but a few, amongst the list of ingredients.

These are compounds that contain naturally occurring amounts of the three primary macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium plus other micronutrients that are beneficial to soil health and plant growth.

For homemade options, think compost. This is by far the most popular form of organic fertilizer used by gardeners.

Meanwhile, synthetic fertilizer is chemically manufactured. It’s typically sold as a liquid or granules.

Organic and synthetic fertilizers provide the same variety of nutrients. All are clearly labeled on the packaging, making them ideal for delivering very specific nutrition. Made-at-home varieties of organic fertilizer may not always be as precise when it comes to macronutrient ratios.

Some gardeners prefer synthetic fertilizers because they are “cleaner” and often smell better than organic ones. Others would use nothing other than non-chemical-based feeds especially when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables. It all just comes down to personal preferences and the gardening methods of each individual.

Liquid Vs Granules

The decision to use liquid or granular fertilizer for grass is largely up to preference. (You also don’t need to commit solely to one over the other.)

Liquid fertilizer offers a near-instant dose of nutrition to your lawn. This can be extremely beneficial when treating nutritional deficiencies or jumpstarting growth in the spring.

Despite these benefits, I tend to recommend slow-release granular fertilizer for lawns. Granular fertilizer is more economical and easier to distribute across a large area like a backyard. Slow-release granules may not deliver nutrients as quickly as liquid fertilizer but will consistently feed your grass for a longer period.

How do I make my Zoysia grass green?

If your zoysia grass is lacking color, a heavy dose of nitrogen is often the solution. All species of grass rely on nitrogen to produce chlorophyll, and discoloration is an early sign of a deficiency.

According to Clemson University, soluble iron will help boost the color of your lawn without oversaturating the soil with nitrogen.

Keep in mind that green grass is seasonal. While zoysia grass has a fairly long growing season in most areas, it will fade each winter.

Also, there are many reasons grass may turn yellow during the growing season. Things like dog urine, fungal disease, the weather, and fertilizer burn could all be responsible for your discolored grass.

6 Best Zoysia Grass Fertilizer Reviews

Simple Lawn Solutions Nitrogen & Potash Liquid Feed 15-0-15
  • Type: Liquid Concentrate
  • Application: Hose End Spray
  • Coverage: Up to 3,200 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 15-0-15

Pros

  • Premixed formula
  • Comes in an easy-to-use sprayer
  • Contains humic acid for soil health

Cons

  • High Nitrogen content may scorch if over-fertilized

With a heavy dose of nitrogen and potassium, this liquid fertilizer from Simple Lawn Solutions is an ideal choice for feeding zoysia grass either as a maintenance program, to improve performance during drought or if your lawn is suffering from a nutrient deficiency.

It also contains humic acid that will help to increase your soil’s capacity to hold water and nutrients. In addition, there is evidence that humic acid encourages beneficial microbes and makes nutrients more available to plant roots.

To make the application simple, it comes packaged in a hose-end sprayer, so there’s no need to transfer or mix the solution before applying.

How To Use: Attach the bottle to your garden hose and apply it over the entire lawn. You can adjust or stop the spray using the built-in nozzle controls.

2. Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10

Best Fertilizer Granules

Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10
  • Type: Granules
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: 5,000 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 29-0-10

Pros

  • Ideal for use during the growing season
  • Feeds lawn whilst also killing weeds
  • Designed for drought- and heat-stressed lawns

Cons

Scotts is one of the most trusted brands in lawn care, and this combined fertilizer and weedkiller formula contains everything you need to jumpstart your zoysia grass lawn in spring and continue using it throughout the growing season – especially if your region is prone to drought.

The combination of nutrients and herbicide in this formula means that weeds will be banished and eventually crowded out and replaced by a thicker Zoysia lawn that is also, greener, stronger, and more resilient to extreme weather conditions.

I’d recommend using this formula from the first application of fertilizer in spring. Avoid using it on new sod due to the 29% nitrogen content and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use to avoid over-fertilizing which can lead to scorching of grass blades and roots.

How To Use: Using a hand or broadcast spreader, evenly distribute granules across the entire lawn. Only apply on dry grass. Water the area immediately after application.

The Andersons Professional PGF Complete Fertilizer With Humic 16-4-8
  • Type: Liquid Concentrate
  • Application: Hose End Spray
  • Coverage: Up to 3,200 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 15-0-15

Pros

  • Small granule size for better coverage
  • Formulated with humic acid
  • Contains fast and slow-release nitrogen particles

Cons

  • Can cause clogging in some spreaders

For zoysia grass that stays green all summer, consider this fertilizer from The Andersons Pro Turf containing both quick- and slow-release nitrogen. The beauty of this product is your lawn gets an initial boost of nutrients straight after application, followed up by the continued benefit of a slow-release fertilizer over the next few months.

This feed also features something called Dispersible Granule Technology so instead of a physical coating, granules are finer allowing nutrient distribution to be slowed down. What is more, smaller granules mean there is less chance of mower pickup and run-off.

One thing to note about this fertilizer is how the small granule size interacts with your typical spreader. Customer feedback indicates that it can take a lot of trial and error to find the correct setting and avoid overapplying.

How To Use: Using a hand or broadcast spreader, distribute evenly across dry, freshly mown grass. Immediately irrigate with at least 0.2 inches of water to activate.

Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food 32-0-4
  • Type: Granules
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: 5,000 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 32-0-4

Pros

  • High nitrogen content promotes greening
  • Won’t stain concrete paths or patios
  • Safe to use throughout the growing season

Cons

  • Easy to over-apply

If your zoysia grass or soil has a nitrogen deficiency, then I recommend this nitrogen-heavy fertilizer from Scotts.

Though this granular formula is marketed as all-season, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by using it first thing in the spring. You can continue using it for regular feeding as long as your lawn needs the extra nitrogen!

How To Use: Distribute evenly using a hand, drop, or broadcast spreader. May be applied to wet or dry grass. While watering in the fertilizer is recommended, it is not required.

Best Fertilizer For New Grass

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass 24-25-4
  • Type: Granules
  • Application: Spreader
  • Coverage: Up to 3,200 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 6-18-0

Pros

  • Specifically for new grass growth
  • Delivers a heavy dose of phosphorus and nitrogen
  • Recommended for new sod, plugs, or re-seeding

Cons

  • Not for routine feeding

This starter food formula from Scotts is my top pick for giving new grass the best start possible. Whether you are re-seeding patchy areas of existing grass or laying new sod, these granules will deliver the perfect blend of nutrients to get roots quickly established and for healthy growth and blade development in abundance.

This product differs from all the others in my selection due to the high ratio of phosphorous so whilst it’s not recommended for established lawns, it will help to get new growth underway in the fastest possible time.

How To Use: Distribute fertilizer granules over affected areas of lawn. Water in well and continue to water daily and re-fertilize regularly until the lawn is established.

Avoid using this fertilizer for routine feeding of zoysia grass. Once new growth is established and after the first mow, switch to a low phosphorous fertilizer.

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Ready-Spray 7-12-15
  • Type: Liquid Concentrate
  • Application: Hose End Spray
  • Coverage: 2,000 Sq.Ft.
  • N-P-K: 07-12-15

Pros

  • Encourages greener growth for new grass
  • No mixing required
  • Saves time by feeding and watering simultaneously

Cons

  • Not ideal for large or established lawns

No, you’re not seeing double. This concentrated fertilizer is the liquid version of the Scotts Turf Builder starter food for new grass granules that I mentioned above.

You might have noticed that the N-P-K ratio of this formula is slightly different from the granular version. In practice, however, your lawn will receive almost exactly the same level of nutrition.

The liquid version comes in a ready-to-use hose-end sprayer and is much more convenient to apply. But with a coverage of 2,000 square feet, it is nowhere near as economical as the granular formula. I find this ideal for small patches of grass that I’ve re-seeded rather than entire re-sod lawns.

How To Use: Connect the spray bottle to your garden hose and turn on the water. Be sure the sprayer is set to “On” and apply fertilizer evenly across the entire area.

How To Fertilize Zoysia Grass

Established zoysiagrass responds best to 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet applied annually. Performing a soil test will provide all of the information you need to narrow down this number as well as address other nutritional needs.

To prevent fertilizer burn and uneven growth, make sure you’re applying fertilizer consistently across the entire lawn. This is perhaps the most important detail of fertilizing turf grass, regardless of species.

How often should I fertilize my Zoysia grass?

The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends dividing your zoysia grass’s annual fertilizer needs into 2 or 3 applications. On average, this means fertilizing every 1.5 to 3 months during the growing season.

These estimates assume you are using slow-release granules. If you opt for liquid fertilizer, more frequent applications will be necessary to keep the soil’s nutrient levels consistent. Formulas vary, so I recommend referencing the label of your chosen liquid fertilizer.

How do I apply fertilizer to Zoysia Grass?

Granular fertilizer can be applied by hand or with a broadcast spreader. While not necessary for small sections of lawn, broadcast spreaders are convenient and help ensure an even application.

When using granules, water your lawn a day or two before fertilizing (unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to receive some well-timed rain). Avoid fertilizing before heavy rain as this may wash away your efforts.

Many weed and feed products are designed to be applied over dry turf. You should also take note of the manufacturer’s recommendations on the best time of day and year to apply products containing herbicides. Typically, conditions need to be dry with temperatures between 65°F and 85°F for best results.

When applying liquid fertilizer, by far and away the easiest method is to use a handheld hose attachment.

Since you’re wetting the grass as you fertilize, there’s little need to worry about whether it is wet or dry at the start. But you should still check the weather forecast and delay fertilizing if rain is on the horizon.

When To Fertilize Zoysia Grass

Fertilizing zoysia grass can be divided into two basic types: starter fertilizing and maintenance fertilizing.

Starter fertilizing is performed when a zoysia grass lawn is first installed. Either fertilizer is added to the soil before the zoysia grass sod is laid or granules are sprinkled over to help establish a lawn.

Maintenance fertilizing — the type we’re focusing on here — is the routine feeding that keeps your lawn happy and healthy throughout its lifetime. Unlike starter fertilizing, it is not a one-time deal. So, creating and sticking to a schedule is the key to meeting your grass’s needs.

Zoysia Grass Fertilizer Schedule

The timing of zoysia grass fertilization is quite forgiving if you follow one rule: do not fertilize the grass when it is dormant.

In most areas, zoysia grass leaves dormancy between March and May. The last fertilization of the year should occur in August, well before the grass returns to dormancy.

Spring

Your first annual fertilizer application should happen when the grass is at least 50% green and the last frost date has passed. Depending on the region, this may happen in March, April, May, or June.

Don’t rush it! Fertilizing zoysia grass too early can redirect nutrients to weeds instead of your lawn. Delaying fertilization will also encourage the zoysia grass to develop strong, deep roots for the rest of the growing season.

Nitrogen is the most important nutrient at this time — even more so than throughout the rest of the spring and summer. Delivering an adequate dose of nitrogen to your zoysia grass will help it recover from winter dormancy and maximize its green color.

Summer

Summer fertilization ensures that your lawn’s nutrient reserves don’t run out during the hottest, driest time of year. It’s important to balance summer fertilizing with adequate hydration for a healthy lawn.

Around mid-summer, you can start prioritizing potassium alongside nitrogen to prepare your zoysia grass for the coming fall.

Fall

Fall fertilization is not about promoting growth but about giving your lawn everything it needs to survive winter dormancy.

It’s actually better to think of fall fertilization as late-summer fertilization. This is because fertilizing too late in the year can “trick” zoysia grass into putting out new growth instead of going dormant.

Another tip to prevent over-fertilization in falls is to switch to a low-nitrogen formula. Potassium is key during this period since it promotes cold-weather hardiness.

Verdict: Best Fertilizer For Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is incredibly resilient and — assuming you’re giving your lawn plenty of nitrogen — supports the theory of “less is more.” With that said, having the correct fertilizer in your lawn care arsenal will make maintaining your zoysia grass a whole lot easier.

For season-long use on lawns that are evenly balanced with nutrients, I recommend Simple Lawn Solutions Nitrogen & Potash Liquid Fertilizer 15-0-15.

Simple Lawn Solutions Nitrogen & Potash Liquid Feed 15-0-15

Best Hose End Spray

Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Feed 15-0-15

Complete with a spray hose attachment, this pre-mixed formula offers coverage of up to 3,200 sq. ft. Suitable for use throughout the growing season and in phosphate-restricted areas.

During spring and early summer, the Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10 granules will deliver everything your zoysia grass needs for optimum health while also targeting unwanted weeds.

Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10

Best Fertilizer Granules

Scotts Turf Builder Bonus S 29-0-10

Offers slow-release nutrients for established lawns and soil that may be prone to nutrient deficiencies. Suitable for use throughout the growing season. These granules offer even coverage and provide strong root growth and vibrant color in as little as 1-2 weeks.

When you are trying to establish new grass whether that be new sod or re-seeding, I recommend Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food 24-25-0 before switching to a fertilizer with little or no phosphorous after the first mow.

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass 24-25-4

Best Fertilizer For New Grass

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass 24-25-4

This high nitrogen and phosphorus feed provides new grass with the boost needed to quickly establish roots and get healthy growth underway. Suitable for use on fresh sod and newly sown grass seed right up until the first mow.

FAQ’s Zoysia Grass Fertilizer