Native to Asia, zoysia is a warm-season turf grass that’s commonly grown in the southern part of the U.S., where summer temps easily reach the century mark. It tolerates extreme heat, high humidity, and even slight drought. In general, most all-purpose lawn fertilizer products are also optimal for zoysia grass because turf grasses have similar nutritional needs.
Those looking to establish a new zoysia lawn, or boost the health of an existing one, can often do so by applying lawn fertilizer. Ahead, learn what type of fertilizer is desirable for use on a zoysia spread, and find out why the following lawn food products are among the best fertilizers for zoysia grass.
- BEST OVERALL: Scotts Green Max Lawn Food – Lawn Fertilizer Plus
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food
- BEST BALANCED FORMULA: Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK
- BEST PLUS WEED CONTROL: Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed 3
- BEST FOR ALKALINE SOIL: The Andersons Professional PGF Complete 16-4-8
- BEST WITH MICRONUTRIENTS: Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Energizer
- BEST SLOW-RELEASE: Milorganite 32 lb. Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer
- ALSO CONSIDER: Pennington 100536576 UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Zoysia Grass
Keep a few basic factors in mind when shopping for a zoysia fertilizer, including yard size and product coverage rates, the overall health of the existing soil, and the preferred application method. For the best results, test the soil before applying fertilizer. Soil test kits are available online and from local extension agencies, many of which allow users to ship samples to a professional lab for testing and soil amendment recommendations.
Standard lawn fertilizers typically do not contain all the components necessary to correct significant soil problems. Rather, their primary purpose is to boost the color of the grass and make it grow faster.
Fertilizer products for treating zoysia lawns are available in three standard types: liquid, water-soluble, and granular. Each has its benefits and considerations.
- Liquid: For the quickest fertilizer uptake, consider applying a liquid product. Of the three types of fertilizer, liquid works the fastest because the blades of grass readily absorb the product. Liquid fertilizers come in ready-to-use solutions and concentrated formulas that require dilution with water.
- Water-soluble: This fertilizer looks grainy, but when mixed with water, it dissolves almost immediately, making it suitable for treating with hose-end applicators. Miracle-Gro fertilizers are often water-soluble, and using them is as easy as dumping a premeasured packet into a hose-end container and then spraying the grass. This type of product is absorbed just as quickly as a liquid product.
- Granular: Rather than spraying, granular lawn fertilizers are applied using a spreader, such as a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. Many are formulated to release the nutrients over time for continuous lawn feeding.
Zoysia grass grows well in various soils, including sandy soil and loamy soil. It prefers a slightly acidic soil ranging from 6 to 6.5 on the pH scale. However, it will often tolerate slightly more alkaline or more acidic soil (within a 0.4-point range) if other needs are met, such as regular watering and fertilizing. A few types of zoysia grass fertilizer provide pH-balance ingredients. Still, if the existing soil is over 7 (too alkaline) or under 5.6 (too acidic), it may require the application of different amendments, such as sulfur or lime. The only way to know for sure is to have the soil tested at a lab and then amended according to the recommendations before zoysia fertilization.
On virtually all zoysia grass fertilizing products (except a few all-natural products), buyers will find an NPK ratio that signifies the amount of the three essential nutrients found in fertilizer: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Zoysia is like other turf grasses when it comes to an optimal NPK ratio. Look for a ratio where the amount of nitrogen is higher than both phosphorus and potassium. For zoysia, a typical NPK ratio might be 15-1-5, which indicates the product contains 15 parts nitrogen, 1 part phosphorus, and 5 parts potassium by volume.
Nitrogen is necessary for giving zoysia grass a rich green color and for boosting healthy growth. Some lawn fertilizer formulations may contain no phosphorus or potassium at all, in which case the package might read 10-0-0.
Organic vs. Synthetic
Most lawn fertilizers contain synthetic components, but a growing number of manufacturers are developing all-natural fertilizers as consumer preference for eco-friendly products increases. Lawn grasses typically react the same way to the nutrients in either type of fertilizer, so the zoysia grass will benefit from both.
- Synthetic: Fertilizers that contain chemical and artificial ingredients, such as synthetic forms of minerals and nutrients, are often less expensive to produce than natural products.
- Organic: Shoppers will likely notice how much more expensive all-natural fertilizers are than synthetic options—some organic products run more than three times as much for a product that covers the same size lawn. The price difference lies in the difficulty of manufacturing organic fertilizers, which typically include earthworm castings and sterilized manure ingredients. Organic fertilizers are often safer to use around pets and people, depending on the specific product.
Zoysia grass doesn’t green up as early in the spring as cool-season grasses, such as fescue, and the general rule of thumb is to wait to apply fertilizer to zoysia until it’s fully green. By waiting, the grass gets a chance to green up naturally, which prompts its roots to wake up from winter and draw on their own energy. This gives them a solid start to the growing season. After the zoysia is green, applying a nitrogen fertilizer will help it maintain rich color and boost growth.
Deciding when to fertilize zoysia also depends on the product. Some products call for applying fertilizer as often as twice a month, while others should be used just once per growing season. Additionally, consider fertilizing the zoysia lawn one last time in the fall. This will strengthen the grass and help it remain resilient and healthy during its upcoming winter dormancy.
Our Top Picks
To qualify for a spot in this lineup of the best fertilizers for zoysia grass and be considered an asset to regular lawn care, the following products had to meet specific criteria. They had to be high in nitrogen, which is a must for any lawn fertilizer; they had to be straightforward to apply; and they had to contain quality ingredients. The following lawn fertilizers vary slightly in usage and nutritional ingredients, but each is a standout in its category.
For quick greening of zoysia and a boost in growth, consider Scotts Green Max Lawn Food, which features a high-nitrogen 27-0-2 NPK ratio. In addition to the standard nutrients, Green Max contains iron, a micronutrient that helps lawn grasses green up quickly.
The manufacturer recommends using a drop spreader to apply this granular product for best results, and when applied as directed, a 33.75-pound bag treats up to 10,000 square feet of lawn. Be sure to keep it off sidewalks and driveways, however, as iron tends to leave rusty stains on concrete and masonry. Brush off any errant product with a broom promptly to prevent staining.
- Type: Granular
- Coverage: Up to 10,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 27-0-2
- Added iron promotes quick greening
- High nitrogen content boosts growth
- Treats a large area
Get Scotts Green Max Lawn Food on Amazon, Ace Hardware, Walmart, and Lowe’s.
There’s no need to spend a lot of green to feed a zoysia lawn. Miracle-Gro’s affordable water-soluble fertilizer comes with a high-nitrogen NPK ratio of 36-0-6, which helps grass develop a rich green color while boosting health and encouraging dense growth.
This box comes with four 1.25-pound bags of water-soluble fertilizer. Just dump a bag into a hose-end applicator, and connect the applicator to the end of a garden hose. When the water is turned on, the fertilizer is diluted and dispersed evenly for spraying over the lawn. A single box treats up to 7,200 square feet and is mild enough to use every 2 to 3 weeks if desired. It’s a budget-friendly way to keep a zoysia lawn healthy and looking great.
- Type: Water-soluble
- Coverage: Up to 7,200 square feet
- NPK ratio: 36-0-6
- Easy to apply with a hose-end applicator
- Absorbed quickly
- Helps develop density
- Must have a hose applicator to apply
Get Miracle-Gro Lawn Food on Amazon, Ace Hardware, Walmart, and Lowe’s.
Those looking to add a broader range of nutrients to their zoysia lawn may appreciate Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced 16-4-8 liquid fertilizer. It provides ample nitrogen and smaller amounts of phosphorus and potassium to help with root development and encourage rich color. The product also contains seaweed and fish emulsions that may help balance soil that lacks nutrients (a soil test is recommended to be sure).
Simple Lawn Solutions is a concentrated liquid, but there’s no need to worry about measuring or mixing. It comes in its own spray dispenser that attaches to a garden hose for uniform distribution. One 32-ounce bottle treats up to 3,000 square feet of lawn.
- Type: Concentrated liquid
- Coverage: Up to 3,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 16-4-8
- Contains added nutrients
- Comes with sprayer
- No measuring or mixing
- Slightly pricey for coverage
Get Simple Lawn Solutions Advanced fertilizer on Amazon, Walmart, and Simple Lawn Solutions.
Dandelions and clover are no match for Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed 3, which does double duty as a fertilizer and a pesky weed killer. Its high-nitrogen NPK ratio is 28-0-3, making it well suited for greening up lawns, including zoysia lawns, and encouraging the grass to reach a rich color.
In addition to its nutritional content, Turf Builder Weed and Feed contains 2,4-D, a selective herbicide that kills invasive broadleaf weeds but won’t harm zoysia grass. The manufacturer recommends mowing the grass and watering it before applying this fertilizer—the 2,4-D herbicide adheres best to damp leaf blades, giving it the most weed-killing power. One 14.29-pound bag of granular Weed and Feed for zoysia grass treats up to 5,000 square feet of lawn and is suitable for use in a broadcast or drop spreader.
- Type: Granular
- Coverage: Up to 5,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 28-0-3
- High nitrogen content for greening
- Added herbicide for killing broadleaf weeds
- Promotes grass density
- Herbicide performance may suffer if the lawn is dry at application
Get Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed 3 on Amazon, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s.
Zoysia grass grows best in soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5, but if your yard is higher on the pH scale, fertilizing with a product that reduces pH might be a good idea. (Rather than guessing at the pH level, the best course of action is to have the soil tested by a local extension agency or soil test kit.)
The Andersons Professional PGF fertilizer contains humic acid, which reduces pH levels. In addition, the product features a 16-4-8 NPK ratio, so the grass will receive a healthy dose of nitrogen and small amounts of phosphorus and potassium. An 18-pound bag of The Andersons PGF fertilizer will treat up to 5,000 square feet. Be aware that this product can help reduce the pH level, but depending on the soil test results, it may not be sufficient for reducing it to an optimal level for growing zoysia. A professional soil test will be required to determine that.
- Type: Granular
- Coverage: Up to 5,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 16-4-8
- High nitrogen content
- Humic acid to reduce pH level
- Slow-release nutrients for continual feeding
- Other amendments may be required to reduce high pH levels
Get The Andersons Professional PGF fertilizer on Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.
Most of the time, high nitrogen is all that’s necessary to boost grass color and health, but that doesn’t mean additional nutrients won’t be beneficial, especially if the soil is depleted of natural nutrients (a soil test is the best way to find out).
Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Energizer contains an added oomph of nutrients, including iron, magnesium, and manganese, which are trace minerals designed to enhance soil. The iron and high nitrogen content (NPK 6-0-0) encourage a rich color and robust growth, while the other nutrients may help root development and overall grass density.
The product comes in a 1-gallon concentrated liquid form and can be diluted and applied via a pump-type garden sprayer. Note: While Lawn Energizer may boost the health of slightly depleted soil, it may not be sufficient for correcting significant soil problems—only the result of a professional soil test will let home landscapers know how to properly amend the soil.
- Type: Concentrated liquid
- Coverage: Up to 12,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 6-0-0
- Nitrogen for boosting grass color
- Added nutrients to balance slightly depleted soil
- Easy-to-use concentrated liquid
- Not a substitute for professional soil testing and amending
Get Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Energizer on Amazon and Simple Lawn Solutions.
Some lawn fertilizers should be applied every 2 weeks, but Milorganite Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer dissolves gradually, so it keeps feeding the grass for up to 10 weeks. This product has a 6-4-0 NPK ratio and contains iron to help green up the lawn quickly.
A 32-pound bag of Milorganite Fertilizer treats up to 2,500 square feet of lawn. If that seems like less coverage than other fertilizers, keep in mind that it works longer, so fewer feedings are necessary throughout the summer. The granulated formulation can be applied with a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. To keep the iron in the product from staining concrete, sweep away any excess product that gets on sidewalks and patios immediately after application.
- Type: Slow-release granules
- Coverage: Up to 2,500 square feet
- NPK Ratio: 6-4-0
- Slowly releases nutrients
- Added iron for quick greening
- Last up to 10 weeks
- Iron ingredients may stain concrete if not removed promptly
Get Milorganite Slow-Release fertilizer on Amazon or Ace Hardware.
The combination of fast-acting iron and slow-release nitrogen in this Pennington UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer is just the ticket for enhancing lackluster lawns for up to 3 months. With an NPK ratio of 30-0-4, there’s plenty of nitrogen to go around, but it dissolves gradually over 3 months to keep grass consistently fed. The iron in Pennington UltraGreen is fast-acting and will help grass develop a rich green color in a few short days.
A 14-pound bag of Pennington UltraGreen covers up to 5,000 square feet and can be applied by either a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. Be sure to sweep away any product that gets on patios or sidewalks to prevent staining from the iron in the mix.
- Type: Granular, slow-release
- Coverage: Up to 5,000 square feet
- NPK ratio: 30-0-4
- Contains iron for quick greening
- Slow-release nitrogen for continuous lawn color
- Lasts up to 3 months
- Iron ingredients may stain concrete if not promptly removed
Get the Pennington UltraGreen lawn fertilizer on Amazon, Ace Hardware, or The Home Depot.
Any of the lawn fertilizers in this lineup are suitable for feeding zoysia grass lawns, but our best overall pick, Scotts Green Max Lawn Food, offers fast greening in as little as 3 days and contains no fillers, so you’re only buying essential nutrients. When cost is an issue, we like Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food, which is easy on the budget and easy to apply with a hose-end applicator.
How We Chose the Best Fertilizers for Zoysia Grass
Lawn fertilizer products are straightforward, and most contain high nitrogen levels, which is the most critical nutrient for greening up a lawn and boosting growth. We looked extensively at dozens of lawn fertilizer products before selecting the ones in this lineup as being among the best for zoysia grass.
In general, most lawn fertilizers will be good bets for applying to zoysia grass because zoysia has the same nutritional needs as other turfgrasses. We looked at nationally known companies with stellar reputations for making quality lawn and garden products, such as Miracle-Gro and Scotts. Still, we didn’t automatically eliminate fertilizers from smaller or niche manufacturers if they contained quality ingredients.
Finally, we looked at how satisfied customers were with different lawn fertilizer products. In the final analysis, we considered products containing additional ingredients, although our focus was still on ensuring that the product had adequate nitrogen.
Zoysia is a hardy, robust type of grass that thrives in heat, but it still requires some care to reach its full lush potential and stay healthy all summer long. Those learning how to care for zoysia grass will undoubtedly have some questions: What is the best fertilizer for zoysia grass, and what makes a zoysia lawn denser?
Q. When should I fertilize my zoysia lawn?
Apply fertilizer in the spring after the grass greens up, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for subsequent applications, ranging from every 6 to 12 weeks during the growing season. A final application in the fall before the grass goes dormant is also a good idea to protect the roots of zoysia during its dormancy.
Q. Can you overfertilize zoysia grass?
Yes, it’s possible to overfertilize and weaken the grass by applying the fertilizer at a rate that exceeds the recommended rate or by using fertilizer more often than recommended.
Q. How do I make my zoysia grass green?
Apply a lawn fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, such as NPK 15-0-8. The high nitrogen will encourage a rich green color.
Q. How do I make my zoysia grass thicker?
Zoysia grass spreads by rhizomes that run beneath the soil. The healthier the grass is, the denser it will become. In addition to zoysia grass fertilization, mow the lawn regularly (once or twice a week) and water during times of drought.
Q. Does zoysia grass require a lot of water?
Zoysia can tolerate frequent rainfall and slight drought conditions, but it will stay the healthiest with regular watering. Good zoysia grass care includes making sure the lawn has a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.
Q. How tall should you cut zoysia grass?
Zoysia is a low-growing grass that should be kept mowed at about 1.5 inches.