When Does Zoysia Go Dormant

Zoysia grass tends to go dormant to protect itself from colder weather. At this time, you’ll need to water it so that its crown stays engaged. Here, we’ll give you some tips on properly caring for your grass so that it can continue to grow after it leaves the dormancy stage. 

When Does Zoysia Go Dormant? 

Zoysia goes dormant after the winter season and will become active after it reaches under 50°F. Don’t be alarmed if you notice a brown lawn in the winter. When the Zoysia grass goes dormant, it will get back to normal if it’s watered properly and given enough sunlight. 

What is Dormant Grass?

Dormant grass is a phase when your grass shows limited to no growth. Cool grass types will become dormant as a defense mechanism against the heat and lack of water. However, warm-season grass goes dormant during the winter season.

Once this occurs, the grass will die naturally but can grow back once it’s watered properly and warmer weather. When your grass goes dormant, it is usually a sign that it protects itself from dying. 

Once in the dormant phase, the grass may appear dead upon first glance. But it is still alive when you look into the grass plant. After the crown receives moisture, it will leave its dormancy, and the grass will become green again within 10-14 days. 

On average, grass will become dormant for approximately six weeks without showing adverse effects. If the dormant stage goes longer, the grass might start to experience turf loss. After the six-week mark, you’ll see the grass turf lose up to 25% each week. 

Does Zoysia Go Dormant In Winter

Zoysia is a grass that performs well during the summer and becomes light brown or tan during the winter season. For two weeks, the grass can survive over ¼ inches of water during the winter season. Then the grass will become greener in the spring season when the temperature is warmer. 

It will be easier to see the broadleaf weed invaders and cool-season grass if you have dormant grass. You’ll be able to apply pre-emergent or broadleaf herbicide without causing damage to the zoysia. 

How To Tell If Zoysia Is Dormant Or Not

Once your Zoysia grass turns brown, it is either dormant or dead. And in this section, we’ll show you how to tell if zoysia is dormant or not. The best way to find out is by doing a tug test. 

Start by pressing down on the base of the grass blades; if you notice that they pull out easily, then the grass is dead. When inspecting the grass, the live crowns have a firm texture and will resist when tugged gently. Usually, you can see zoysia grass growing during the late spring in warm climates. 

The zoysia grass is dormant if you have to apply effort to get the blades out of the ground or show resistance. Another sign of dead grass is the patches of brown and bluegrass. Once this happens, the grass in that section is dead and won’t grow back to life. 

How Do You Get Zoysia Out Of Dormancy?

To get your Zoysia grass out of dormancy, it’s best to do some maintenance during the spring. Here are some techniques to help you get the grass back in its operational stage. 

  • Use The Right Fertilizer

When your zoysia grass attempts to leave the dormancy stage, spring is the best time to use fertilizers. Ensure you get a fertilizer that promotes green leaf blades and healthy roots.

Be careful when applying fertilizer for the first time of the year. It is a common mistake for homeowners to use their lawnmower and fertilizer once they notice the grass turning back to green. 

For optimal results, wait until there is no more frost within the grass. If you live in an area with fluctuating temperatures, you’ll want to make sure that the coldest weather has subsided before adding fertilizer. 

If you try to add fertilizer to the lawn and another frost hits it, the zoysia grass will revert back to its dormant stage. This will make it harder for you to make the grass green again. Because of this, adding the fertilizer too early will cause more harm than good. 

The time the frost period occurs will vary based on location. For example, the zoysia grass won’t go dormant in Florida and will turn completely green during February. If that is the case, you don’t want to apply any grass fertilizer until Easter is over or until the last grass frost period has passed.

  • Use a Pre or Post Emergent Herbicide

You should use a pre-emergent herbicide once the ground temperature enters 55° F. The pre-emergent herbicide works by preventing unnecessary weeds from growing to the grass surface. 

The exact time you should use these applications will vary based on your location. Usually, you should use pre-emergents between March 1 and March 15. This is when the grass is the warmest, and you can prevent weeds from growing into a larger problem. 

  • Mow Your Lawn

Mowing the lawn will keep your grass properly maintained. Zoysia grass will vary depending on where you live. Your Zoysia grass can get out of dormancy depending on the temperature and environment that’s provided. 

For instance, if you live in South Texas, the grass might not have experienced dormancy all winter. Homeowners who live in South Texas tend to mow their lawn bi-weekly during the winter. At this stage, they tend to start during September and will continue to mow it regularly until March. 

Usually, you should begin mowing your lawn during mid-March. Remember, you should not mow your lawn if the zoysia is dormant. Instead, give your lawn some time to regrow before mowing it again. 

When mowing the lawn, you’ll want to give it a buzz cut. This means that you’ll want to cut it at 1-inch height. By doing this, you’ll give the grass enough time to grow while keeping it short and sturdy during the winter.  

You don’t want to cut more than a third of the grass blades off during the summer. As a rule of thumb, coarse Zoysia grass must be 1-2 inches long when mowed. You can keep it within 0.5-2 inches long for fine-bladed zoysia. 

Does Dormant Zoysia Need Water?

Water is one of the main components to help your grass get out of dormancy. Your zoysia grass doesn’t need water until the grass starts to green up. While dormant grass will need less water than if it was growing, it still needs water for it to run smoothly. 

As a rule of thumb, zoysia grass needs 1 inch of water a week. If you don’t know how much water the grass is receiving, you should do an irrigation audit. Irrigation audits give you the information needed to know how much water your lawn is receiving at a certain time. 

If you currently live in the deep south and your grass isn’t dormant, you can continue to irrigate your lawn during the winter. 

On the other hand, if you live in South Florida, you can stop irrigating your lawn during June-August and the winter. South Florida’s environment isn’t evaporating as much water and grass during the winter season. This means you don’t have to irrigate it as much. 

Should Zoysia Grass Be Cut Short For Winter?

During the winter, zoysia grass is more likely to experience frost. The larger the grass, the more dangerous this can become. When large blades of grass are hit with frost, it can take longer for them to recover. 

That’s why you should cut your zoysia grass between September and November. The grass clippings that come from Zoysia winter mowing will be on your lawn unless it affects the aesthetic value of your turf. You’ll have to water your lawn after it becomes dormant, but only if the soil is dry. 

Can You Transplant Zoysia When It Is Dormant?

While you can transplant zoysia once it’s dormant, they won’t have the encouragement to spread through the roots. To properly transplant zoysia grass, you’ll need a plugger to transplant the sod or patch of grass. Some plugger devices have a small round size, while more high-end models will have a square plug that’s 3 inches long. 

Next, bring the plugs to the zoysia grass area you’re planning on growing. You’ll want to place the plugs 5 inches away from each other so they can go through an area. You can replug lawns twice a season without experiencing any damage. 

You’ll want to keep your lawn’s refilled area moist so the plugs will spread further. On average, a plug will take 1-2 years before becoming established. However, don’t place your zoysia grass in high shade areas because this grass is not shade resistant and won’t turn green when laying in the shade.   



To conclude, Zoysia grass will go dormant during the winter season. When this occurs, you have to make sure that the grass is taken care of through proper irrigation and mowing. By doing this, you’ll give your grass the nutrients it needs to survive and get back to growing once the dormant season ends. 

Also read

Zoysia vs centipede Grass – A Detailed Comparison and Guide

Zeon Zoysia Vs. Emerald Zoysia

How Fast Does Zoysia Grass Spread?


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