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Zoysia Grass vs. Fescue Grass

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

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Grass Types

If you're putting in a new lawn, you're probably trying to sort your way through the maze of lawn varieties to find the perfect fit for your yard. Chances are names like Fescue, Bluegrass, Zoysia, and Bermuda are flying at you from every direction. Here's the blow-by-blow on two of the most common varieties: Zoysia grass and Fescue grass.

Zoysia grass and Fescue grass are alike in a few ways - they're both popular grass types; they're both green... Then there are their differences. Here's how it breaks down.
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Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass, meaning it thrives in tropical climates, does well in the heat of summer, but turns to brown carpet once the temperature dips to 55 or so. Fescue grass is a cool-season grass, meaning it does best in temperate climates and that, unlike Zoysia grass, it loves the cooler weather of spring and fall.

Starting a lawn

If you work hard you can track down Zoysia grass seed, but vegetative starts - sprigs, plugs, and sod - are much more common and will generally give you the best start to a Zoysia grass lawn. Fescue grass, on the other hand, especially fine fescue varieties and blends, is a common component of seed mixtures and can also be purchased as seed on its own.

Mowing heights

Zoysia grass loves being short. Half an inch to an inch is about right. Fescue grass does better when it's longer, at least an inch and a half to two inches (potentially longer if it's part of a blend).

Soil conditions

Here's where our two grass types come together. Both Zoysia grass and Fescue grass do well in slightly acidic, slightly sandy, well-drained soils (great for droughty conditions).

Fescue and Zoysia can both make for great lawns and a little bit of information can help you home in on the one that's right for you. Happy planting!

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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