Should You Use A Bermuda Zoysia Mix In Your Yard?


So, you’ve decided to lay a new lawn in your yard, eh? Well, as exciting as that is, you must know that you have a lot of hard work ahead of you if you are to attain the kind of rich vibrant lawn that will make your home “pop”. Should you use both Bermuda grass and Zoysia mixed in the same lawn?

Though a Bermuda Zoysia mix in a lawn or sports field is theoretically possible, it is not optimal or advisable. Zoysia and Bermudagrass are both creeping, warm season turf grasses, but each have different watering, fertilizing, and sunlight needs. Mixing the two successfully is fairly difficult.

One challenging thing for homeowners and professionals alike is deciding on the particular type(s) of grass to use. Here in the U.S., Bermuda and Zoysia grasses are popular choices for many homeowners and they are worth your consideration. However, if you are undecided between the two, can you use a mix of both?

Mixing Bermuda And Zoysia Grass

The idea of mixing different grass varieties is certainly an interesting and exciting proposition. However, is such a move viable?

Well…yes…and no…and maybe.

As with a lot of creative landscaping endeavors, the success of mixed lawns depends on a variety of factors. As you can imagine, the primary factor is the particular grass mix in question. 

When the right grasses are paired up, you can get a lawn that is lusher and hardier than either of the individual species. Naturally, the wrong pairing can lead to problems and could even exacerbate the weaknesses of each.

So, in which camp does a Bermuda-Zoysia mix fall?

To answer that question, we first need a look at the characteristics and needs of each grass type.

For those looking for an easy to grow, all in one solution to establishing Bermudagrass, I recommend Pennington Smart Seed Bermudagrass Grass Seed and Fertilizer Mix.

We like Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Zoysia Grass Seed and Mulch to get it established with the least trouble possible.

With these seeds, you can worry about the regular maintenance that these turfs require without the hassle of false starts and getting it implemented.

Is Zoysia Grass The Same As Bermudagrass?

It is understandable that some may think this that haven’t looked to deeply into the differences in grass types. There are similarities that can lead some to believe that Zoysia and Bermuda are actually the same thing. But is this true? Is Bermuda the same as Zoysia?

Though both Zoysia and Bermuda are runner turf grasses and are warm-season varieties, they are distinct species of plants. Bermudagrass is from the Cynodon genus whereas Zoysia is from a genus with the same name (Zoysia genus). Each is sometimes mistaken for the other.

Let’s look at each of these types of turf sod and see where the differences are. A simple examination will make it clear that these two names are not referring to the same type of grass.

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Zoysia is not Bermuda

Zoysia is a genus of grass that originated in Asia and Oceania. In North America, Zoysia is considered to be a warm-season grass because its peak growth period stretches from late spring all through the summer.

Furthermore, Zoysia is a perennial grass that is characterized by its high heat resistance, a quality it had to adapt to thrive in some of its harsh native environments. If it can survive the Australian sun, American summers are a breeze. As such, Zoysia is perfect for most Southern states and California.

That said, Zoysia also does well in cooler climes as we go north towards the middle states (aka the “transition zone”). Zoysia is one of the few grass varieties that can thrive in this region. Zoysia is famous for retaining a green color for longer than most warm-season varieties. However, it does experience winter dormancy if temperatures get too low.

In colder climates, Zoysia is known for turning a shade of grey or brown during the colder winter months that makes many mistake it for Burmudagrass. Bermuda which does the same thing. The difference in the two here is that Zoysia stays green longer into the colder months and revives sooner.

Like Bermuda, Zoysia is typically grown via grass sprigs and sod. And like other runner grasses, Zoysia spreads via a network of rhizomes and stolons. It doesn’t grow very quickly nor does it reach extraordinary heights. Instead, Zoysia grows very densely, making it one of the most weed-proof lawn grasses around.

This density also makes it a good choice for yards with a lot of foot traffic, and would be a great choice for football or soccer fields if it weren’t for the fact that many of them have their seasons during the colder months when Zoysia is dormant and not actively growing.

This makes it difficult for Zoysia to replenish itself during periods of harsh treatment.

According to Dr. Dave Minner, a professor in the Iowa State University Department of Horticulture, in an article published in SportsField Management, formerly SportsTurf Magazine, Zoysia is better than the standard Bermuda for lower traffic sports fields like baseball and softball. It is regularly used on golf courses as well.

Bermudagrass Is Not Zoysia

Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a species of runner grass from the Cynodon genus. Depending on where you live, you may hear people refer to it as “devil’s grass” or “scutch grass”, among other names. It is also known as “crab grass”, but it must not be confused with Digitaria sanguinalis, a species of hay grass.

Originating in the Mediterranean, Africa, and parts of Southern Asia, Bermuda grass is a classic warm-season grass. Like Zoysia, peak growth occurs from early/mid-spring to late summer. Bermuda is also perennial, meaning it comes back after winter dormancy.

Bermuda grass is best suited to warmer climates such as the Southern states, California, and Nevada. It does not have the same level of cold temperature tolerance as Zoysia, which makes it tough to grow and maintain in northern states. Attempting to develop a Bermuda lawn in the transition zone is a tall order, to say the least. Winter dormancy can be triggered very easily causing it to turn brown and become more brittle.

The species needs plenty of sunlight each day, and it lacks the shade tolerance of Zoysia. Drainage is also essential. As long as the grass has its sunlight and heat requirements met, it will be very tough and resistant to many environmental issues.

At the heart of this hardiness is the expansive root network, which can stretch between 6 inches to the better part of 6 feet…UNDERGROUND! This means that Bermuda always has large quantities of water and nutrients on reserve.

Can You Mix Bermuda And Zoysia Grass?

So, for the big question…can we mix the two? Can you mix Bermuda and Zoysia Grass for a healthy lawn?

You can mix Bermuda and Zoysia with the right seed ratios, sunlight, water, and climate, but it is not generally advisable. Both are creeping turf grasses that go dormant in the Winter months, but each has different growth rates, fertilizing needs, and water consumption levels.

To be honest…we wouldn’t recommend mixing the two grasses for a general lawn, but you can absolutely have at it if you have a certain design in mind. Your yard must also be able to cater to the differing sunlight requirements.

For that matter, the decision to have a Bermuda or a Zoysia lawn respectively is one that should be taken seriously. Though these are hardy turf grasses, their particular sunlight, water, and temperature requirements make each of them difficult to grow and maintain in moderate to cold climates. This is especially true for an entire lawn application.

Seed Ratios

And if you insist on a combo, there are some basic seed ratios to uphold. Firstly, use 1 pound of each for every 1000 square feet. Carefully rake the seeds into the soil and water to a depth of five inches before covering everything with peat moss (1-inch layer), which provides an organic greenhouse environment. 

Zoysia must always be planted in a close-knit fashion so it can creep efficiently. Bermuda can be sprinkled all over because of its strong roots. Just ensure the Bermuda seeds are planted in sun-rich areas. Heat is important for both grasses, hence the peat moss.

Is A Bermuda – Zoysia Mix Advisable?

All that said, we still don’t recommend this particular combination. Both are excellent turf or lawn grasses in their own right, but they may be a bit of a handful when mixed. 

For starters, they grow at different rates. Bermuda shoots emerge within about two weeks after seeding, while Zoysia could take up to 21 days or three weeks. Maintaining aesthetics would be a tall order.

Bermuda also needs a lot more water and nutrition. This could result in you inadvertently overwatering the Zoysia, which could lead to root rot. Bermuda also needs about 4 pounds of fertilizer per 1000 square feet. Zoysia needs about one pound for a similar area.

Will Bermudagrass Choke Out Zoysia?

Zoysia and Bermudagrass together will give a tightly knit and normally ‘bare spot’ free lawn, but their different growth rates and temperature requirements to stay out of dormancy tends to give a lawn with the mix and uneven look. That being said, would one tend to overtake the other? Would Bermudagrass choke out Zoysia?

Bermudagrass would never completely choke out Zoysia, but most certainly could invade weaker areas in the Zoysia coverage. Bermuda spreads through large underground root systems and rhizomes. It jumps from place to place in a lawn making the grass incredibly difficult to eradicate once established.

It also does not grow as tightly together as Zoysia and therefore would not always be able to break into sections where it is healthy.

Zoysia creeps slower and from the edges of its densely compacted areas. It will not grow fast enough to take out Bermuda either.

Bermudagrass is more like a dancing, bobbing light-heavyweight boxer while Zoysia is the lumbering Sumo Wrestler plodding forward. Though that imagery may not speak to the uniform, carpet like look of a healthy Bermuda or Zoysia turf, it does resemble the clash that their mixing can cause.

What Can I Mix With Zoysia? 

Zoysia is quite versatile, which makes it a good companion for different cool-season and warm-season grasses. The problem is twofold:

  1. Zoysia’s dormant stage in the Winter months has it turning brown, which highlights the stark contrast between it and other grasses that stay predominately green year-round.
  2. The slower growth rate of Zoysia vs most other types of grasses will have a very noticeable height difference dispersed throughout a lawn or field if strict mowing schedules are not followed.

Both of these problems can cause an otherwise well manicured yard or sports area to look unkept and ‘rough’. That being said, with frequent mowing, warm season fields and lawns in some situations could benefit from a mix.

A common combination in transition zone climates is Zoysia and a cool grass like Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). You could seed the bluegrass as winter approaches to maintain your yard’s greenery when the Zoysia goes dormant. They can pair well with adequate maintenance.

This mixture will need to be thoroughly planned out and managed to get an even distribution of the bluegrass in order for a uniform appearance to emerge.

What Grass Mixes Well With Bermudagrass?

If Zoysia and Bermuda are a bit contensious roomates, what then is a good alternative to pair with Bermudagrass?

Bermuda is a high-maintenance grass best paired with varieties with similar demands. One option is St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), which has a growth rate that is consistent with Bermuda. There’s no need for constant mowing height adjustments as both can be cut to 1.5-2 inches. 

The two grasses also have similar shades of green, which always looks good.

Additionally, they can counterbalance each other’s weaknesses. Bermuda’s roots can provide extra nutrition and moisture to the St. Augustine grass. St. Augustine, on the other hand, can protect Bermuda from weeds with its density.

Though again, it takes a lot of effort to mix grasses with Zoysia or Bermuda, so proceed with caution.

The Final Touches On A Bermuda Zoysia Mix…

Can you and should you are two different things in a lot of contexts. In ours here, the answer to, “Can you mix Zoysia and Bermuda?” is, yes. Should you can really go either way depending on your application.

Blending either of these with other grass types is also a tricky proposition. In our experience in our family business and in our own lawns, mixing grass types has been successful. Yet, we know what to expect and how to deal with the challenges.

This option is definitely not low maintenance, and should only be a viable choice for someone willing to put in the time and effort to learn more about these two grasses and put in the time to care for them.

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References

https://gardenguider.com/can-i-mix-zoysia-and-bermuda/

https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/resources/all-you-need-to-know-about-bermudagrass#:~:text=Bermudagrass%20is%20a%20perennial%20warm,as%20turf%2Dtype%20tall%20fescue.

https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/resources/all-you-need-to-know-about-zoysia-grass

Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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