Zoysia Grass Vs Bermuda Grass | Head to Head Which is Best

Both Zoysia grass and Bermuda grass have long been popular choices in The United States for lawns and fields used to host sporting events. 

Each grass is known for growing in warm to hot climates and for its ability to withstand droughts. As a result, they each make excellent choices for lawns in regions with high amounts of sunlight, high temperatures, and dry conditions. But what’s the difference and which is best for you? To answer that question we decided to compare Zoysia Grass Vs Bermuda Grass.

Below is all you need to know about these grass types, including their pros and cons, function and purpose, growing patterns, and other factors that will help you understand more about them.

Zoysia Grass Vs Bermuda Grass

Overall, Zoysia grass and Bermuda grass share a lot of similarities. However, they also have some vital differences that can impact a decision on which one to choose.

Zoysia Grass Vs Bermuda Grass..

Similarities

The main similarity is that they thrive in warm conditions, notably in the mid and southern United States. In North America, both are considered invasive due to how fast they can spread once established.

Their deep roots make them more resistant to droughts and disturbances such as heavy footfall or impact from sporting activities. They both thrive in the same pH range and require the same amount of weekly watering to grow optimally and healthily.

Most importantly, given the correct nutrients, both types of grass can thrive in warm to hot regions with relatively mild winters. Neither grass performs well in year-round chilly conditions.

Differences

Zoysia grass is more shade resistant than Bermuda grass. So, if you have trees in or around your lawn that provide shade in your yard for a short portion of the day, then Zoysia grass will do much better than Bermuda grass. 

Zoysia grass spreads less aggressively than Bermuda grass. So, while both types of grass are considered invasive in North American regions, Zoysia grass is more easily contained without causing as much ecological harm to the surrounding area. 

Bermuda grass has a few crucial advantages over Zoysia grass and overall, it is considered the most resilient of the two grass types. Bermuda has more extensive roots that grow deeper, allowing it to recover from severe disturbances more efficiently. 

This robust root system of Bermuda grass also enables it to be even more drought-resistant when compared to Zoysia grass. 

Zoysia Grass Vs Bermuda Comparison Chart

Zoysia grassBermuda grass
Growing regionsTransition and warm-season grasses zones.Transition and warm-season grasses zones.
Soil Type and pH6.0 to 7.0 pH.Clay soils with high organic matter content and good aeration are ideal.6.0 to 7.0 pH. Sandy and clay soils with good water drainage and aeration. Can withstand slightly more alkaline soil.
Heat and cold toleranceMedium cold tolerance and medium to high heat tolerance.Medium cold tolerance and high heat tolerance.
Drought toleranceHigh drought tolerance.Very high drought tolerance.
Shade ToleranceLow to medium shade tolerance.Very low shade tolerance.
Footfall toleranceMedium to high footfall tolerance.Very high footfall tolerance.
MaintenanceHeaviest maintenance during late spring/early summer.Heaviest maintenance during the summer months. 
Zoysia Versus Bermuda Grass Comparison Chart

Zoysia Grass Characteristics

Zoysia grass originated in Asia and is specifically native to Korea, China, and Japan. It was introduced to the US in the late 1800s where it eventually became popularized as grass for lawns. 

Zoysia became widespread due to its dense, vibrant appearance and weed-resistant properties. It does not lend itself to long periods of cold or snowy weather. However, it can hold its own for short snaps of chilly temperatures – more on that later. 

Growing Regions

As warm-season grass, Zoysia grows best in moderate to hot climates and can tolerate varying degrees of humidity. It cultivates at optimal levels in warm and tropical areas. 

In the United States specifically, Zoysia grass grows in the transition zone and the warm season grasses zone. Preferring the warmer seasons, it grows best in summer and spring.

Soil Type and pH

Zoysia grass can grow in soils of differing makeups and differing organic matter contents, including clay soil. However, overly compacted soil hinders the growth of its roots, so aeration is vital. Use light-to-medium density soil for optimal growth. 

The ideal soil pH of Zoysia grass is neutral to slightly acidic, or a 6.0 to 7.0 pH range. 

Tolerance of Heat and Cold

As mentioned above, Zoysia grass prefers warm to hot climates and frost-free soils. Southern/tropical regions work best for this reason. Weather above 80 degrees and soil temperature that maintains a range of 64 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. 

Zoysia grass is relatively tolerant of cold conditions and goes into a dormant state during mild winters. Freezing or below-freezing temperatures do not suit zoysia grass.

Drought Tolerance

Zoysia grass has a relatively high tolerance to drought conditions. The grass can retain moisture well and receiving as little as an inch of rainfall per week encourages deep roots that are drought resistant. 

It remains green during short droughts but will turn brown and enter a dormant state during prolonged droughts.

Shade Tolerance

Zoysia grass generally tolerates light amounts of shade, with some species being more shade tolerant than others. Overall, Zoysia grass requires consistent sunlight and prefers only partial shade.

Tolerance To Footfall

Zoysia grass is highly tolerant to footfall. Its dense growth allows it to withstand high amounts of foot traffic. 

However, the grass is not ideal for football or soccer fields where soil can consistently be heavily disturbed. Cleats and roughhousing do not suit Zoysia grass and will cause irreversible damage.

Level of Maintenance

Because of its drought resistance, Zoysia grass requires less consistent watering than other grasses. Watering it with about an inch of water per week is ideal and sufficient. 

The best times for maintenance are during the spring and the summer months when Zoysia grass grows the most. During warm weather, use a high nitrogen fertilizer or a specialist zoysia lawn fertilizer for healthy grass growth and to ensure vibrant color. 

Although Zoysia is not high maintenance, you still need to perform routine tests to ensure the grass is healthy and growing properly. Test the soil periodically to ensure its pH is within the healthy range of 6.0 to 7.0. 

Mow Zoysia grass once a week or when it reaches above one and a half inches. Collect the mowed grass for composting or disposal so that the rooted grass can grow optimally.

Bermuda Grass Characteristics

Bermuda grass is also a warm-season grass suited for high sunlight, and warm to hot climates. 

The grass is native to regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Bermuda arrived in the United States sometime in the late 1700s to early 1800s and has proven to be a popular grass in the country’s southern region ever since.

The grass is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide and is renowned for being very resistant to drought and is commonly used as grass grown in pastureland. Its roots can grow up to 6 feet deep, and because of this, it can withstand frequent disturbances and aridity.

Bermuda grass is also known for spreading remarkably quickly and adapting to various weather conditions in its home regions. 

Growing Regions

Bermuda grass grows in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. Just like Zoysia, it is considered invasive in the Northern regions of the United States. Growing primarily in the lower parts of the transition zone and throughout the warm season zone in the south of The US. 

That said, certain Bermuda grass species are perennial in the transitional zone, meaning they can survive year-round. Like Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass goes dormant in the winter months and turns brown if it lacks sunlight and enough nutrients.

Soil Type and pH

Bermuda grass prefers appropriately aerated soil that drains water efficiently. Like Zoysia grass, it grows best in soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. However, some Bermuda grass species can tolerate more alkaline soil slightly below 6.0. 

Sand is ideal for Bermuda grass because of its efficient water draining and aeration properties. It also grows in clay soil, given the pH, aeration, and climate are appropriate.

Tolerance of Heat and Cold

Most species of Bermuda grass do not handle extraordinarily frigid temperatures very well. The grass can generally still grow in the transitional zone – where winters are typically mild. 

During winter months in the transition zone, Bermuda grass enters a dormant state where it stays until the warmer months return.

Any time the soil of Bermuda grass reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it will enter the dormant state. This state involves limited growth that will only continue when warm temperatures return. 

Bermuda grass thrives in warm to hot temperatures. The grass grows best when temperatures are on average above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows most optimally in hot temperatures of between 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

For germination purposes, Bermuda grass seed requires soil temperatures of between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Drought Tolerance

Like Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass does best when given one to one and a half inches of water a week. It is generally quite drought-resistant and recovers easily once given water. 

However, during these long periods of drought, the grass will enter a dormant state. Because of its deep roots, Bermuda grass is renowned as potentially the most drought-resistant warm-season grass.

Shade Tolerance

Bermuda grass will not thrive in shady conditions and requires 8 to 10 hours of sunlight daily to stay healthy. This attribute is the major caveat of Bermuda grass in warm regions with larger plants that may block the sun and stifle the growth of Bermuda grass.

Do not plant Bermuda in wooded areas or landscapes with copious vegetation. Shade inhibits its growth and overall appearance.

Tolerance To Footfall

The deep roots of Bermuda grass allow it to withstand and quickly recover from areas of high foot traffic. Research from the University of California found that hybrid Bermuda grass was the ablest to recover from severe disturbance among all California turf grasses. 

This durability makes Bermuda grass ideal for sporting fields, parks, and golf courses where there are frequent and intense disturbances. 

Even if the tops of the grass are heavily damaged, the roots allow Bermuda grass to regrow as long as the other conditions are appropriate.

Level of Maintenance

Bermuda grass grows at an optimal rate in the summer, where heat and sunlight are highest. Therefore, this is the time of year that requires the most maintenance – but like Zoysia, it does not require extravagant care. It’s a good idea to apply a pre-emergent to bermudagrass in fall or late winter.

Bermuda grass needs about an inch to an inch and a half of water per week. Limited watering allows the deep, drought-resistant roots to flourish. When Bermuda starts growing, it grows fast!

Begin mowing Bermuda grass in early spring to keep it looking healthy and for maximum growth and appearance. Aim at keeping grass blades at a height of between 1 to 2 inches.

Remove mowed grass and use it for composting or dispose of it. This process allows the Bermuda grass to maintain healthy growth and lessens the chances of fungal infections. You should mow the grass at least once a week during the peak growing season. 

Start a feeding schedule in late spring once the growing season has begun and use a specific fertilizer for Bermuda grass for best results. Fertilizing can continue throughout the growing season and be maintained in Fall and winter too.

Test the soil periodically to ensure the pH stays between 6.0 and 7.0 for optimal growth conditions.

Verdict: Zoysia Vs Bermuda Grass

While both grass types can be used in Southern regions of The United States, ultimately, choosing between Zoysia grass and Bermuda grass comes down to location and the purpose of the grass. 

For example, if you need warm-season grass that grows in an area with some shade, Zoysia grass is the better choice. 

If shade is not an issue and you need a type of grass that will thrive in an open field with moderate to severe disturbances and droughts, Bermuda grass may be the better choice.