Zoysia Grass Weed Control: A Complete Guide

As someone who has been gardening for years, and a self-proclaimed turf aficionado, I’ve encountered my share of Zoysia grass.

You’ve likely seen it adorning your favorite golf course, cushioning your neighborhood playground, or even filling your backyard with its verdant charm.

There’s a lot to admire about Zoysia grass – its remarkable drought tolerance, low-maintenance nature, and impressive resistance to pests, diseases, and even heavy foot traffic.

But, despite being one of the more weed-resistant grasses, sometimes you’ve still got to deal with them.

So, how do we tackle this? Buckle up, fellow gardeners, as we explore the ins and outs of Zoysia grass weed control.

What are the common weeds in zoysia grass?

Broadleaf Weeds: The Wide Leaf Invaders

Broadleaf weeds, as the name suggests, have wide leaves and often do not resemble grass. Their leaf veins follow a net-like pattern, making them stick out like a sore thumb amidst your beautiful Zoysia.

These unwanted guests compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight, weakening your Zoysia grass. They disrupt the uniform appearance of your lawn with their unique leaf shapes and flowers.

But that’s not all. They can also create an environment that encourages pests and diseases that could harm your Zoysia grass. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

Let’s delve deeper into these broadleaf wrongdoers:

1. Dandelion: There are many varieties, but most have a yellow flower and rosette growth pattern. Their deep taproot makes dandelions an unwelcome, stubborn guest.


2. Clover (White and Red): Small white or pink flowers with a trifoliate leaf pattern? That’s clover for you!

White clover in meadows

3. Prostrate Spurge: If you come across a plant forming a mat-like pattern on the ground that oozes milky sap when broken, that’s Prostrate Spurge.

Spotted Spurge leaves

4. Wild Onion: This one can trick you with its grassy appearance, but its unmistakable onion smell gives it away. It grows from bulbs, which makes it harder to control.

wild onion blossoms

5. Plantain (Broadleaf and Buckhorn): These have a rosette of oval to lance-shaped leaves with tall seed stalks rising from the center.


Grassy Weeds: The Leafy Imposters

Now, let’s move on to grassy weeds. These are sneaky invaders with leaves that resemble grass, distinguished by parallel veins in the leaves.

These grassy weeds can outcompete Zoysia grass for resources, often being more aggressive or fast-growing. They can alter the texture and feel of your lawn due to differences in blade width and growth habits. And here’s the kicker: certain grassy weeds can spread rapidly, crowding out the Zoysia and reducing its coverage.

Meet the grassy imposters:

1. Crabgrass: This weed has a prostrate growth habit and sprawls out from a central point.


2. Goosegrass: It resembles crabgrass but has a silver center and thrives in compacted soils.


3. Dallisgrass: This clumping grass produces tall seed stalks.


4. Torpedograss: Known for its aggressive growth and pointed, torpedo-like rhizomes.


5. Yellow Foxtail: This weed has a bottlebrush-like seed head and thrives in disturbed soils.

Foxtail in the grass

Weed Identification: Your First Line of Defense

Why should you bother knowing these weeds by name? Well, accurate weed identification is crucial for effective and efficient control. Knowing your enemy saves you time, resources, and the heartbreak of watching your lawn suffer.

Proper identification helps you maintain the health and aesthetics of your Zoysia lawns, preventing unnecessary damage and competition. It also reduces negative environmental impacts by encouraging precise herbicide use. Plus, it’s a big step in maintaining the beauty of your lawn and implementing preventive strategies for future weed management.

So the next time you see an unfamiliar plant popping up on your lawn, you’ll know if it’s a friend or foe. Remember, your Zoysia grass is counting on you. Let’s keep that lawn looking lush and lovely!

Cultural Methods to Manage Weeds

weeds pulled out

Here are the things you need to know about the cultural control of weeds in Zoysia grass:

Mowing Matters

Zoysia grass is the superhero of your lawn, dense and thick, its growth naturally chokes out most weeds. However, even superheroes need assistance at times, especially when they’re not in their prime health or well-maintained. Enter mowing – your secret weapon.

Mowing your Zoysia grass before it grows taller than 2.5 inches (1) and at a consistent height of 0.5–2 inches (1.5 most frequently recommended) encourages its outward growth, providing a natural shield against shade-loving weeds. Moreover, regular mowing cuts down weed seed heads before they set seed, nipping a potential weed infestation in the bud.

However, mowing is not a silver bullet. It must be done regularly, tailored to the grass type and season, and supplemented with additional methods like hand-pulling, herbicides, or mulching when necessary.

Hands-On Control: The Power of Pulling

Pulling weeds by hand is a simple, eco-friendly method to control weeds in your Zoysia grass lawns. It’s a battle of wills between you, your gloves, and young weeds with shallow roots.

However, prepare for a mini lawn workout when manually dealing with stubborn weeds with deep roots. Remember to be gentle; rough handling can potentially damage your Zoysia grass.

The Dark Side of Your Lawn: Shaded Areas

Those cool, shaded spots on your lawn, a blessing during hot summer days, can become breeding grounds for weeds. These shadowy alcoves can reduce the vigor and density of your Zoysia grass, inviting shade-adaptive weeds (2).

These invaders compete with your grass for resources and can lead to an unsightly weed infestation. Moreover, shady areas often retain more moisture, increasing the potential for fungal problems, further weakening the grass and inviting more weeds.

Feed It Well: Fertilization for Prevention

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The same applies to your Zoysia grass. Regular fertilization can prevent weed growth by giving your grass the essential nutrients to grow strong and thick. This results in a well-nourished lawn that stands tall against weed invasion.

Fertilization also plays a key role in blocking weed germination by reducing their exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, it stimulates the root development and spread of Zoysia grass, helping it fill in any bare or thin spots. A dense, uniform lawn leaves no room for weeds to establish and grow, maintaining the weed-free look you desire.

The Magic of Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicide

Picture this: you step out to admire your lush, green Zoysia grass, only to find a jungle of weeds attempting a takeover. Fret not! We’ve got something up our sleeve to stop this nightmare vision before it even starts: Pre-emergent Herbicides.

Understanding Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are a powerful tool in the fight against weeds. These herbicides prevent seeds from germinating and developing, effectively nipping the weed problem in the bud.

The Power of Timing

Timing is crucial when it comes to pre-emergent herbicides. You need to outsmart weeds by applying the herbicide before they start growing. Typically, this means spring application for summer weeds and fall application for winter weeds. It’s like setting up a weed-proof force field around your beautiful Zoysia grass.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

Not all pre-emergent herbicides are created equal. You want one that contains an active ingredient effective against the usual suspects invading Zoysia grass. Some of the most potent ones include Dithiopyr, Isoxaben, or Prodiamine. Just ensure one of them is listed on the herbicide label.

The Art of Application

Applying pre-emergent herbicide is akin to painting: the goal is to create an even, protective layer over your lawn. Once applied, water it in to activate the herbicide.

Remember, gardening isn’t just a hobby; it’s an art form. With the right tools and knowledge, you can create your masterpiece – a vibrant, weed-free Zoysia lawn!

Understanding Post-Emergent Herbicides

spraying weed killer

Ever wondered what post-emergent weed control is? It’s a method that targets weeds that have already sprouted from the ground, using specific herbicides. Think of it as a strategic game of whack-a-mole, where you’re zeroing in on the pesky weeds in your lawn without disturbing the rest.

Selective vs. Non-Selective Herbicides: Making the Right Choice

In the world of post-emergent herbicides, there are two key players: selective and non-selective herbicides.

Selective herbicides are like the secret agents of weed control. They’re precise, taking out specific broadleaf and grassy weeds while leaving your cherished Zoysia grass untouched. This precision makes them the go-to choice for many Zoysia grass owners.

Non-selective herbicides, however, are a different story. They’re equivalent to a broad-spectrum assault, wiping out any plant life they come into contact with. Due to their no-holds-barred nature, they should be used sparingly and only on the most resilient weeds.

The Art of Timing: When to Deploy Post-Emergent Herbicides

The application of post-emergent herbicides isn’t just spray and hope for the best. Timing can help a lot. Weeds have their growth cycles, typically peaking in late spring or early summer when the conditions are ideal for herbicide uptake. Applying during these periods ensures the weeds absorb as much herbicide as possible, maximizing your chances of total weed eradication.

It’s also best to avoid using post-emergent herbicides on Zoysia grass during the spring green-up. If a weed problem occurs after the grass has started to green in the warmer temperatures wait until it’s fully green (3).

Stick to the Script: Follow Herbicide Label Instructions

Ever tried to put together a piece of flat-pack furniture without instructions and ended up with a wonky bookshelf? Let’s not have a repeat of that with your herbicides. The label instructions are there to guide you on the right application rate, timing, and technique. Some post-emergent herbicides may even suggest using a surfactant to boost their efficacy.

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to managing weed control in Zoysia grass. Remember, it’s not just about eliminating the weeds; it’s about nurturing and preserving your lush Zoysia lawn.


  1. Zoysiagrass Lawn Maintenance Calendar – https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/zoysiagrass-lawn-maintenance-calendar
  2. Establishment and Care of Zoysiagrass Lawns – https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g6706
  3. Zoysiagrass Yearly Maintenance Program – https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/zoysiagrass-maintenance-calendar/

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