Why is My Zoysia Grass Brown?

posted on March 24th, 2010 by

After the first hard frost, you may be wondering why your grass has started to turn a tawny-brown tone. You don’t need to worry! Zoysia grass, like a deciduous tree, goes dormant after the first hard frost, when cold weather is moving in. The lush green color will fade.

In fact, most grasses have the tendency to go dormant at some point in the year. Winter causes dormancy for zoysia grass because it is categorized as a “warm season” grass. Cool season grasses are the opposite, and can go dormant in warm summer month, just when most people want to enjoy their lawn.

These photos, found at Gardens Gardens blog, show exactly what zoysia dormancy looks like.

This is healthy, and a part of the grass’ process. Zoysia’s ability to go dormant in winter helps it withstand colder temperatures, while still allowing it to come back lush every spring and remain green even in the full heat of summer.

In fact, some of you may not experience this dormancy at all. If you live in a region with mild winters, your lawn will remain lush and green all year round. But if you do experience dormancy, there is no need to worry, once winter is over, your grass will be back in no time at all, without any effort needed from you.

Click here to see more pictures of dormant zoysia grass.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 1:11 pm and is filed under Care & Maintenance, Dormancy, Growth, Zoysia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

30 Responses to “Why is My Zoysia Grass Brown?”

  1. Bob Says:

    October 6th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I live in Central Florida, it is October, temps are in the low to mid 80’s, my Zoysia is developing “tawny brown tone” from the root up then the last inch is still green… basically green on top with brown roots. This lawn has been well-cared for, so if it’s going dormant, what care, if any, should I provide for it such as fertilizers, water, etc.?

  2. admin Says:

    October 7th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Hey Bob, if you’ve cared for your Zoysia throughout the summer, there isn’t much that you should have to do for it going into the winter. We have a blog post about proper winter preparation that you can reference, but one of the best things you can do for your Zoysia is to take care over it over the summer. This is the blog, let me know if you have any more questions! http://blog.zoysiafarms.com/winter-preparation/

  3. Rick Lamb Says:

    March 18th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I live in East Texas where we’ve had a very mild winter. My Zoysia grass is coming up green … in spots … but not wholesale as is my neighbor’s Zoysia. Any thoughts?
    Also, should I run an aerator and thrasher (sp?) in the spring to remove ALL dead looking grass? Thanks!

  4. admin Says:

    March 22nd, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Rick – There are many different varieties of Zoysia, and some of them may green up earlier than others. Do you know which variety of Zoysia you have or where you got it from? Also factors such as amount of shade can affect how quickly Zoysia greens. If the situation persists, there could be an issue. However, it’s likely that the grass is just taking it’s time and will get lush and green as the weather continues to warm.

    Aerating is a great thing to do in the spring and removal of the dead looking grass is helpful but not totally necessary as it will decompose into organic matter over time. Another spring time recommendation is dethatching. It’s beneficial to the Zoysia and (it will also remove some of the dead grass). You can use a rake or our liquid thatch remover.

  5. pbl Says:

    April 3rd, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I live in N Central FL and my zoysia (emerald I believe) is quite brown but coming back. In some areas, the top parts 1-2 inches long, looks dead/brown – but at ground level and coming from below it is greening up but not consistent. Will the grass come back from roots or existing brown stems above ground? thanks. pbl

  6. admin Says:

    April 9th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    P.B. Long – Based on what you’ve shared, we recommend that you make sure the cutting blade of the lawn mower is sharp. Cut the grass down to the green and see how it does over the next month. Make sure not to over water Zoysia. Sometimes over watering can cause browning. Let us know how it turns out!

  7. Keith Says:

    October 5th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    It is early October and both my neighbor and I installed new Zoysia sod this spring/summer. Her lawn is still pretty green but ours has started going brown. We still have days in the 80’s in fact most of the past 2 weeks have been near 88 everyday. What gives? We well prepared our soil and have a lawn service that has been treating with care. Should we be concerned? We planted the back lawn last summer and it too is going dormant. The sod was supplied from the same grower both last year and this year from the same growing field. Any idea of what is going on? Do I need to be concerned that the lawn is going dormant so soon? Thanks Keith

  8. admin Says:

    October 24th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Keith – Give our customer service a call at 410-756-2311 and we’ll help you with your question!

  9. Kako Says:

    April 25th, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I live in Jacksonville, Florida and I also have Zoysia turf. I’m concerned because the grass is dead. My husband and I raked the old grass and I feel there is some hope. Although there is no color of green and the grass is completely brown except for the edges and some parts of the grass….most of the dead grass is deeply rooted and not easy to rake up. So…I was told to rake the old/dead grass up/put top soin over the dead grass and shallow spots/and put the concoction of listerine, coke, amonia, dish detergent and beer with a sprayer hooked to the hose. I’m in dire need of help. It was around this time last year when we’ve took the step to re-sod from St Augustine to Zoysia. The grass was absolutely healthy last year and I loved how the turf has the “carpet effect” Please help me!!! Thanks, Kako

  10. admin Says:

    May 2nd, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Hello Kako,
    I am sorry to hear your entire zoysia lawn has died. Raking up the dead grass is the correct start to repairing your lawn. There has to be a reason for an entire lawn to die if nothing was applied to the lawn that would harm the zoysia grass. There are also many different types of zoysia grass, not knowing what type you have makes it difficult to try and help with the problem. Please do not cover the grass with topsoil. I do not know anything about the concoction you were told to apply. We will be happy to assist you in trying to determine just what happened to your lawn if you contact our Customer Service Department at 410-756-2311.

  11. cathy Says:

    May 10th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I think we have this same grass in the house we recently bought.Most of the lawn has come back green but there are some brown patches were my husband sprayed weed killer.Do I need to do anything to these patches or will the grass just replenish itself over time?

  12. Rick Says:

    May 13th, 2013 at 2:57 am

    I live in Orlando, and installed empire zoysia sod in my backyard 2 summers ago. Last year, I did so in my front yard. Both areas have a section about 4×8 that has grown very thin and brown – just not getting much growth. Other sections are more or less healthy looking. I raked out a fair amount of thatch a couple of weeks ago. Was wondering if aeration might be needed. I’m afraid these sections will keep declining. Because they look so poor, I’ve been inclined to water them more than I normally would. Is that a bad idea? Also, wondered about products like “liquid gold”, or or similar products?

  13. admin Says:

    May 14th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Cathy,
    If the grass is zoysia grass it will repair itself. If you check and see what type of zoysia grass you have you may want to consider planting plugs in the areas, if the patches are a fair size. Before you apply anything to your lawn it is best to check the label of the product and be sure it is safe for zoysia grass.

  14. admin Says:

    May 14th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Rick,
    If the areas have a thatch build up, that can affect the performance of the grass and could cause it to thin out. You may also want to check and make sure you do not have an insect problem. Insects such as grubs, nemotades, chinch bugs or mole crickets eat the roots of lawn grasses and can destroy them. We only sell the Meyers Amazoy zoysia grass, I would suggest that you contact someone who deals with the Empire grass for the proper maintenance for Empire zoysia. I”m sorry I am not familiar with the liquid gold product.

  15. Larry Hughes Says:

    May 18th, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I live in Dallas, Georgia. Last year my zoysia was beautiful. This year it looks thin and spotty, with many areas looking brown. I fertalized it like normal in April, but it just hasn’t come back like last year. Over the winter we has abnormal amounts of rain and I wonder if that has affected it. Help!

  16. admin Says:

    May 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Hi Larry,
    If your zoysia is a well established lawn, it sounds like you could be getting a thatch build up. If you have not dethatch your lawn the thatch will slowly start to choke out the zoysia, making the grass thin, brown and allowing weeds to grow. The thatch should be raked out each spring when the grass first greens up to prevent a build up. We also carry a liguid thatch remover in our organic products you may want to check out.

  17. ken Says:

    May 31st, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    emerald zoyia under my pine trees is dying off, browning there will be places where it is still green the yard is about 7 years old ??????

  18. admin Says:

    May 31st, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Ken,
    I’m not real familiar with the Emerald zoysia, but pine trees can alter the pH level of your soil which can affect the performance of the grass. We suggest the soil pH be between 6 an 7 for the best results. You may also want to check and make sure the area under the pine trees is receiving enought sunlight each day.

  19. mickie Says:

    June 21st, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    help, i have had zoysia since the bastrop,tx fires. and has been beautiful since they laid the sod after the fires. now in two weeks my front side and back look like your winter pictures . please help.

  20. admin Says:

    June 21st, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Mickie,
    There has to be something that is causing the grass to brown out. You may want to check and be sure you do not have a thatch buildup (the previous years dead growth), an insect problem, such as grubs, mole crickets, chinch bugs, a fungus or disease spreading in your lawn. If you have recently had anything applied to your lawn, make sure it was safe for zoysia grass. Hope this helps!

  21. CW Says:

    July 12th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I have a large amount of Meyer Zoysia on a droughty east-facing slope that I have a hard time keeping watered as we are gone much of the summer. We live in SW MO. Is is better to water the brown zoysia a little in July and August, or not at all so it will go dormant?

  22. admin Says:

    July 15th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    If your grass is turning brown in July and August then it does need some watering. If you let the grass go too long withou water in the summer months it can die out. Amazoy zoysia grass should only turn brown after the ground temperatures reach 50 degrees or lower and should not green up until your air temperatures maintain around 70 degrees.

  23. Dave Roberson Says:

    August 6th, 2013 at 11:17 am

    My Zoysia lawn is turning brown it is August and we have had alot of rain this summer. It has never turned brown this time of year before. My grass is normaly green this time of year when others are brown. Do you have any ideas?


  24. admin Says:

    August 6th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Dave,
    At this time of the year your zoysia grass should not be turning brown. Some of the things that could cause the zoysia to turn brown, is a thatch buildup, an insect problem, a fungus or disease. If you would like more detailed information on these problems and how to tell, please feel free to contact our Customer Service Department at 410-756-2311

  25. LaVonne Fields Says:

    July 30th, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I have a zoysia lawn, my neighbor cut it with an old lawn mower and now it has weed’s and has turned brown. I saw a spot that looked burned. I watered it for about 3 weeks and it is still brown. I purchased some fungus removal but I am still not seeing any progress. Can you help me?

  26. SecureAdminZ Says:

    August 3rd, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Hi Lavonne,
    Using an old lawn mower should not be the cause of weeds and the grass turning brown. An established Amazoy zoysia lawn usually keeps most weeds out. I would suggest checking to see if you have a thatch(previous years dead blades, etc) build up. A build up of thatch can start to choke out the zoysia allowing weeds and other grasses to start invading your lawn. If there is a heavy build up it could be slowly destroying your zoysia lawn causing it to turn brown.

  27. Andre A Says:

    August 18th, 2015 at 9:20 pm


    New to this forum. I live in central Florida and purchased a home early May. I am not sure what kind of zoysia I have or if the previous owner treated it with fertilizer. I’m going to assume they did not. The grass seems lush and green passed 4-5 inches. I was mowing at about 3 inches. Someone told me I should now zoysia a little shorter at 2 inches. I started doing this and the grass at the base line is brown. When I let it grow it is very green at longer length. We have been getting a ton of rain over the last couple of months. I tugged at the grass after a fresh cut and does not seem weak. I feel it’s too late to treat it with fertilizer and I will just have to wait until next May. Should I have any cause for concern? Thanks!

  28. SecureAdminZ Says:

    August 25th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Andre,
    Welcome to our blog, we are glad to have you! Your zoysia lawn can be kept at the different heights it is more of a personal preference. Just remember do not take more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time. If the brown area is thicker than 1/2 inch then you most likely have a thatch build up. Please visit our April 30, 2015 post”NOT TENDING TO THIS COULD DESTROY YOUR LAWN” for more information on thatch and dethatching a zoysia lawn.

  29. adam Says:

    October 9th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I live in North Texas and my zoysia is starting to brown. Temps during the day are still high 80s/low 90s with cool nights ranging in the 60-70s. The grass has been beautifully green all summer and wasn’t sure if this is normal or a factor of something else?

  30. SecureAdminZ Says:

    October 19th, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Hi Adam,
    It sounds like your zoysia is starting to go into dormancy with your night time temperatures getting into the 60’s. As your temperatures get cooler, Amazoy zoysia grass will to go dormant, turning a tawny brown color. This is a natural process and is the way the grass protects itself from the colder weather. Once your temperatures reach and maintain 70 degrees or higher the grass will green back up.

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