3 Ways Zoysia Grass Differs from Bermuda Grass

Distinguishing Between Bermuda and Zoysia Turf

If you’re unsure whether you have Bermuda grass or Zoysia grass in your lawn, there are a few key ways to determine the type of grass. In Oklahoma, Bermuda grass is the most common type of grass found in lawns. However, if you suspect that you may have a different type of grass, it’s important to accurately identify it in order to provide the right type of care.

While these two grasses have some similarities, there are also several key differences that can help you distinguish between them. In this blog, we’ll explore three ways to tell Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass apart.

A lawn just in Oklahoma City in mid-spring with Fescue, Zoysia, and Bermuda grasses. Here you can compare the differences as they come out of dormancy.
The same image with clearly defined areas to assist in seeing the different grass types.

Way #1 – Blade shape and size

One of the most noticeable differences between Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass is the shape and size of their blades. Bermuda grass tends to have a fine, narrow blade that is about 1/8 inch wide. The blades are typically smooth and shiny, giving Bermuda grass a bright green color. In contrast, Zoysia grass has a thicker, wider blade that is about 1/4 inch wide. The blades of Zoysia grass are coarser and have a more subdued green color.

While blade shape and size can be a helpful way to distinguish between these two grass types, it’s important to note that blade size and shape can be affected by factors such as mowing height and maintenance practices. If the grass is mowed too short or not well-maintained, it may be more difficult to observe the differences in blade size and shape.

Way #2 – Growth habits and density

Another way to tell Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass apart is by examining their growth habits and density. Bermuda grass is known for its rapid growth and ability to form a dense, thick turf. It spreads through underground runners, which allows it to quickly fill in bare spots and cover large areas. Bermuda grass is also known for its ability to recover quickly from damage, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas.

In contrast, Zoysia grass grows more slowly and tends to form a less dense, sparser turf. It spreads through above-ground stolons, or runners, which can make it more difficult to fill in bare spots and cover large areas. Zoysia grass is known for its ability to tolerate drought and heat, making it a good choice for areas with lower water availability.

Bermuda grass up close example – Image copyright NC State Extension – https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/
Zoysia grass up close example – Image copyright NC State Extension – https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/

It’s important to note that growth habits and density can be affected by factors such as fertilization, watering, and mowing. Over-fertilizing or over-watering can lead to excessive growth and a denser turf, while under-fertilizing or under-watering can result in slower growth and a sparser turf. Similarly, mowing height can affect the density of the grass, with shorter mowing heights resulting in a denser turf and longer mowing heights leading to a sparser turf.

Growth habits and density can also be affected by the particular variety or cultivar you’re working with. Some bermuda grass has a much finer leaf blade than other types, for example.

Way #3 – Geographic distribution

A third way to distinguish Bermuda grass from Zoysia grass is by looking at their geographic distribution. Bermuda grass is more widely distributed across the United States, and is particularly common in southern and arid regions. It is known for its ability to tolerate hot and dry conditions, making it a popular choice in these areas.

In contrast, Zoysia grass is more limited in its distribution and is primarily found in northern and coastal regions. It is known for its ability to tolerate cooler temperatures and higher humidity, making it a good choice for these areas.

It’s worth noting that geographic distribution is not always a reliable way to distinguish between these two grass types, as both Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass can be grown in a variety of locations. However, if you know the natural range of these grasses, it can be a useful way to help identify which one you may be working with.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass are two popular grass types that can be distinguished by their blade shape and size, growth habits and density, and geographic distribution. By examining these characteristics, you can accurately identify the type of grass in your lawn or landscaping and choose the right grass for your specific needs and location.