Sod Comparison & Differences
Fine Fescue vs. Zoysia

Let's dive into a side-by-side comparison of these two grasses. We're looking at everything from cost and looks to how well they stand up to drought, shade, and foot traffic. Stick around to see which one comes out on top!

Close up photo of Fine Fescue sod
Fine Fescue
vs
Close up photo of Zoysia sod
Zoysia

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Fine Fescue or Zoysia?

Between these two, Zoysia is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.73. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $362.50 per pallet.

Fine Fescue on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.60 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $300.00 per pallet.

Fine FescueBudget Friendly
from$0.45 / sq ft
to$0.75 / sq ft
Zoysia
from$0.55 / sq ft
to$0.90 / sq ft

Editor's note: It's important to remember that both of these are averages based on data from around the country so cost can vary depending on your location. Keep in mind this doesn't include other fees like delivery or installation.

See our sod calculator to get a comprehensive sod estimate.

Shade Tolerance

Which grass grows better in the shade?

Fine Fescue stands out for shade tolerance, needing as little as 3 to 4 hours of direct sun each day and flourishing even in heavily shaded lawn areas.

Fine Fescue
Shade Tolerance9 / 10
Zoysia
Shade Tolerance6 / 10

On the other hand, Zoysia Grass is versatile, withstanding shaded areas quite well; it stays healthy with about 4 to 5 hours of sun but prefers a bit more light when possible.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Fine Fescue (pictured top) and Zoysia (pictured bottom), personal preference plays a significant role, but understanding the nuances of each type's appearance can guide your decision. Here's what to consider:

Fine Fescue close up imageZoysia close up image

Fine Fescue is all about the delicate look and feel; its fine blades knit together for a soft, green pasture that's easy on the eyes and gentle for your soles.

Zoysia Grass is thick and lush, sporting a deep green color and finer blades that cushion your steps, making for a plush, inviting lawn to walk and play on.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

Fine Fescue is one of the more drought tolerant among cool-season grasses, able to survive dry conditions with minimal watering.

Fine Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10
Zoysia
Drought Tolerance8 / 10

Similarly, Zoysia Grass is quite drought tolerant, able to stay green with less water and recover well when conditions improve.

Takeaway: If you're located in a somewhat dry and arid geographic region and are looking for a grass that can handle drought-like conditions, Zoysia is the better option between Fine Fescue and Zoysia.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

Fine Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. The ideal temperature range for laying Fine Fescue sod is between 60°F and 75°F.

Fine Fescue
transition zones
cool zones
Zoysia
warm zones
transition zones

Zoysia is well-suited for growth in warm or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Zoysia is between 70°F and 90°F. If you choose to lay outside of the ideal range, you can still have success, but it may take a longer time to esablish and require a bit more maintenance.

As you may have noticed, both Fine Fescue and Zoysia thrive under pretty similar climatic conditions!

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Fine Fescue has lower traffic tolerance and is best for ornamental areas or yards that don’t see intense games and heavy footfall.

Fine Fescue
Traffic Tolerance3 / 10
Zoysia
Traffic Tolerance8 / 10

On the other hand, Zoysia Grass is a champion of foot traffic tolerance, withstanding heavy use and bouncing back well from wear, making it ideal for busy yards and public spaces.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, Zoysia is the better option between Fine Fescue and Zoysia.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Fine Fescue is slow to establish but eventually forms a low-growing, fine-textured turf that's shade-tolerant and suited for cooler climates or less trafficked areas.

Fine Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10
Zoysia
Establishment Rate4 / 10

Zoysia grass, characterized by its fine texture and high drought tolerance, establishes slowly but creates a dense, wear-resistant turf ideal for warm, temperate areas.

Net, net - if you're looking for a grass that establishes quickly, Fine Fescue is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Fine Fescue, while resistant to most common pests, can sometimes be troubled by red thread and other fungal diseases, particularly in damp conditions. Overall, it's a solid choice if you're worried about pests.

Fine Fescue
Resistance7 / 10
Zoysia
Resistance7 / 10

Zoysia Grass is well-regarded for its pest resistance, particularly to chinch bugs and grubs, but can occasionally suffer from diseases like brown patch in humid conditions.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, they are pretty similar in this respect, so feel free to go with either one!

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Fine Fescue or Zoysia?

Alright it's time to count the scores up.

Most blogs or articles are going to give you a wishy washy "it's up to you" speil. That is definitely true. You'll need to choose based on your geographic conditions and what you like most looks-wise.

That being said, if we just compare the scores based on the following measures. Higher is better in this case.

  • Average Cost: 6 for Fine Fescue, 4 for Zoysia
  • Shade Tolerance: 9 for Fine Fescue, 6 for Zoysia
  • Drought Tolerance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 8 for Zoysia
  • Traffic Tolerance: 3 for Fine Fescue, 8 for Zoysia
  • Establishment Rate: 6 for Fine Fescue, 4 for Zoysia
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 7 for Zoysia

Drumroll please...

All in all, Fine Fescue comes out on top with a score of 38/60 versus 37/60 for Zoysia.

Thanks for reading! If you have any feedback or corrections for us, please email our editor at editor@sodcalculator.com.