St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia: Who Will Win The Battle For Your Lawn?

Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Mattias

St. Augustine and Zoysia are warm-season grasses often associated with each other because of their popularity. They both have thick growth that starts in the warmth of late spring and peaks in hotter months. Even though both of these grass varieties are beneficial in their way, there is an ongoing turf war between them. 

Are you having trouble choosing the right one for your lawn? Look no further because you have come to the right place. Let’s discuss St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia and settle the debate. 

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia

These are famous warm-season grasses, but the main difference between these two varieties is that zoysia Grass requires general maintenance to survive, whereas st. Augustine grass is much more particular than that. Zoysia grass has slower growth and needs fewer fertilizers and mowing than st. Augustine grass, but it is more vulnerable to diseases.

Another difference is that zoysia is drought-tolerant, barely surviving drought conditions, whereas st. Augustine grass is drought-resistant and doesn’t get highly affected by harsh conditions. Zoysia is quick to bounce back, while st. Augustine might need to be replaced in the event of damage. 

Now that we have covered the basic factors that differentiate these two types of grasses, they might not be enough for you to decide. You should know that it was just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s much more to these grass species.

From their growing seasons to appearances, there are more similarities and differences than you can imagine. These distinct grass types thrive and turn your lawn into a beautiful landscape. Let’s get into detail and closely examine st. Augustine VS Zoysia. 

What Is St. Augustine Grass? 

a st augustine grass lawn

St Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a popular grass species affiliated with the Poaceae family group. It is a type of warm-season grass mostly used for cultivation in tropical and subtropical regions. It grows and reproduces through above-ground stems, stolons, or runners. 

Even though this grass grows on both sides of the Atlantic, It is the most suitable for the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions, where it can thrive in high temperatures. This grass grows on Florida lawns, shorelines, lagoons, marshes, and almost any place with high moisture.

St. Augustine grasses are the biggest rival of bermuda grass, although it is less drought-tolerant than the latter. Suppose you want a grass type for your pasture or ranch, st. Augustine is the better choice.

How To Identify St. Augustine Grass?

Sometimes it can be hard to identify which grass variety is planted in your lawn, and as long as you don’t know which species surround your landscape, you can’t take proper care of its requirements. However, It is not a complex task, and some visible factors easily distinguish different grass types. 

If we talk about st. augustine grass, in particular, has several noticeable features that will help you identify it immediately in your lawn. This grass is known to have a dense growth and will have the coarsest leaf texture. Grass blades will have a medium to dark green color (almost resembling a bluish-green shade) and a folded appearance.

As mentioned, this grass reproduces through stolons, which can help you identify st. Augutine grass too. Leaves that are oppositely arranged on the stolon with wide, rounded tips are also a distinct characteristic of st. augustine grass. Their seedheads are thick and singular, forming white-brownish flowers above the leaf blade.

What is Zoysia Grass?

a Zoysia Grass lawn

Zoysia is a warm-season perennial grass known for its creeping and mat-forming features. This grass spreads by shoots i.e., above-ground stems (stolons) and below-ground stems (rhizomes). This grass variety is native to Asia but will thrive in any region with a warm climate. 

You’ll mostly find this grass in coastal areas and grasslands, but it can also be used to create fairways on golf courses and sports fields.

Zoysia grasses are adaptable to rough conditions, so they are the best option for people living in southern regions and in hot temperatures. They repel annual weeds effectively and tolerate drought conditions well.

However, zoysia’s initial cost is expensive as this grass requires a base layer of silica and Canadian peat moss on the surface before it can be planted. Other than that, it doesn’t require much maintenance from you. Zoysia lawn has a slower growth rate than most turf grasses, so they don’t need frequent mowing or fertilizers. It is also a good option because of its low vulnerability to fungi and insects. 

How To Identify Zoysia Grass? 

As we mentioned, every grass has some distinct features that distinguish it from other varieties. Identifying zoysia grass in your lawn will be quite simple if you know what to look for.

You can recognize zoysia grass by its soft feel, fine texture, and low growth rate. Other than that, zoysia’s leaves will be rolled up in the buds, and there’ll be no signs of auricles (small outgrowth on the leaf collar.) You’ll also notice that the leaf blade will be stiff, short, narrow in height, and pointed in shape. The blade will range from 5-7mm in width. 

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia – Differences 

a hand on a grass lawn

Growing requirements 

The main difference between these two types of grasses lies in their growth requirements. Even though watering requirements mainly depend on the capability of the soil, st. Augustine typically needs watering 2-4 times a week.

Zoysia, on the other hand, requires just an inch of water per week. Zoysia grass won’t grow well in a garden with long trees or shrubs because it can only tolerate partial shade. Meanwhile, st. Augustine is one of the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass out there.

St. Augustine grass can adapt to various soil conditions, but zoysia grass can only grow well in loamy or clayey soils.

Zoysia has slow growth, so you won’t have to mow it frequently or take extra care of the lawn’s tidiness. St. Augustine has an almost aggressive growth that can be hard to contain. You will need to mow it regularly, and edging might also be needed to preserve other species.

Spreading mechanism

One of the main differences between these grasses is their growth and spreading mechanism. Warm-season grasses mostly grow and spread by shoots. Rhizomes are horizontal stems that run under the surface of the soil.

They strike new roots below the ground while also shooting stems upward. Stolons, however, are stems that creep above the ground. 

Where zoysia grass uses stolons and rhizomes to reproduce, St. Augustine only uses stolons as a spreading mechanism. Stolons, also called runners, are not attached to the soil.

The plants send these stems along the surface of the soil, and they establish roots there. After some time, a clone of the original plant emerges from wherever that stem landed. 

Another difference is that st. Augustine is a fast-growing grass that utilizes the full capacity of stolons and blooms as soon as early spring approaches, but zoysia grass is known to be a slow grower, and it doesn’t bloom until late spring.

Drought conditions

Though often confused, drought tolerance and drought resistance are different terms. Drought tolerance means barely surviving drought conditions and tolerating them to an extent where the grass won’t die. Still, drought resistance means that the grass will not be affected by drought conditions and will resist them naturally. Now we will see how they relate to St. Augustine grass VS zoysia. 

Both types of grass need at least an inch of water per week to thrive, but each will react differently when drought approaches. St. Augustine grass is drought-resistant, meaning it survives in harsh drought conditions and looks good while doing it. They will hold their ground rather than lose color, preventing your lawn from being covered in brown spots.

Caution: If your st. Augustine’s lawn is turning brown. It’s a sign of dying rather than preservation.

Zoysia grass, on the other hand, is drought-tolerant. When winter approaches, this grass enters a state of dormancy and preserves itself until the cold weather passes. It will lose its color and form brown patches on your lawn because it will focus all its energy on tolerating the drought during this period.

There are some other differences as well, but since they are easily identifiable, take a look at the comparison table below for a quick, brief

Category St. AugustinegrassZoysia 
Color Bluish-green colorgreyish-green color
Costs Cheaper to establishExpensive to establish and maintain
Texture Coarse-textured turfgrassFine texture grass
Soil typeAny soil with good drainage and fertilityClay and loamy soil
Method of growthSpreads by both stolons and rhizomesSpreads by stolons
Salt toleranceHigh Moderate 
Drought tolerance Moderate high
Pests Grubs and sod wormsChinch bugs

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia – Similarities 

two sprinklers watering a lawn

There is an active debate between these two types of grass, and despite all the differences, they also share some common features. For starters, both are warm-season grasses, so there is little difference between their preferred temperatures and growth conditions. They both thrive in warm climates and peak in the summer months, and use stolons as a spreading mechanism. 

Another similarity is that these grasses can be grown in sandy and silty soil types. Here’s how you can determine your soil’s texture

  • Take a handful of soil and wet it, making sure it’s moist but not dripping
  • Clay soil will hold shape without crumbling
  • Silty soil will hold shape but crumble easily
  • Sandy soil will not hold shape and will crumble immediately 

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia – Advantages

St. AugustineZoysia 
Adaptable to most soilsImproved cold-tolerance
Good salt tolerance Less water required
Better shade tolerance Less maintenance required
Creates a carpet like surfaceTolerant to high Foot Traffic
Thrives in hotter monthsCan survive in poor soil
Tolerates heat and humidityDeep root system 
Competes against weedsEfficient in conserving moisture

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia – Drawbacks

St. AugustineZoysia 
Intolerable to coldSlow growth
Needs high fertilizationDifficult to establish from seed
High maintenance varietyPoor shade tolerance 
Not as soft to the touchHardly vibrant
Can be invasiveAttracts grubs
Susceptible to various fungal diseasesWill not stay green all year-round

Which One Should You choose? 

Choosing grass is an important decision. If you don’t think you can commit to a grass’s pros and cons, you’ll end up damaging your lawn. Look at the advantages and drawbacks listed above and choose whichever seems more suitable and easy to live with.

Two things should be considered when making a final decision between these grasses. Your personal choice and budget availability are extremely important, but on the other hand, the decision doesn’t completely rely on your personal preference. To select the right grass, you must examine which grass’s growth can be supported by your lawn conditions.

For instance, if your region has warm weather and your lawn is exposed to full sun, heat, and humidity, then st. Augustine will be a better option. Meanwhile, suppose that your location has occasional cold temperatures that last for well over 1-2 months, st. Augustine is highly intolerable to cold, so you must go with zoysia grass. 

Once you have examined the available resources, the decision will be determined. If your lawn can support both, you’ll need to ask yourself which kind of appearance you want your lawn to have. Zoysia grass has a soft feel, and it would be pleasant to walk on it barefoot. Meanwhile st. Augustine will be green and dense. It will grow quickly and fill bare lawn spots, whereas zoysia will grow slowly. 

If you are not ready to deal with high-maintenance grass that needs frequent mowing, fertilizers, constant care, and a lot of water, then st. Augustine might not be the right pick for you. Furthermore, if you can’t afford the initial costs of installing zoysia grass and don’t think you can deal with its dormant appearance, it’s not the one for your lawn.

St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia Summary. 

In this article, we comprehensively discussed st. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia. We expanded on the key differences between these two types of grasses, their similarities, advantages, and Drawbacks. 

Most importantly, we discussed which is most suitable for your lawn. Before choosing either of them, check whether your lawn can provide the necessary resources and whether you can dedicate the time and energy to maintain it. Once you decide, we assure you that these grasses establish a pleasant-looking lawn, and you’ll not be disappointed. 

Did you find this article helpful? Share it with your friends and let them participate in the “St. Augustine Grass VS Zoysia” debate. 

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