Sod Comparison & Differences
Tall 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 Tall Fescue sod
Tall Fescue
vs
Close up photo of Zoysia sod
Zoysia

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Tall 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.

Tall Fescue on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.73 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $362.50 per pallet.

Tall FescueBudget Friendly
from$0.60 / sq ft
to$0.85 / 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?

Tall Fescue has one of the better shade tolerances among grass types, performing well with around 4 hours of direct sunlight, ideal for dappled or intermittent shade.

Tall Fescue
Shade Tolerance7 / 10
Zoysia
Shade Tolerance6 / 10

Similarly, 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 Tall 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:

Tall Fescue close up imageZoysia close up image

Tall Fescue grows thick and green, with wider blades that create a hardy lawn; it's comfortable enough for playtime and stays resilient through rough and tumble activities.

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?

Tall Fescue is reasonably drought tolerant due to its deep root system, but it does best with occasional deep watering during dry spells.

Tall 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 Tall Fescue and Zoysia.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

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

Tall 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 Tall Fescue and Zoysia thrive under pretty similar climatic conditions!

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Tall Fescue has good traffic tolerance with its deep roots, making it able to withstand a fair amount of play and use without giving up its lush appearance.

Tall Fescue
Traffic Tolerance7 / 10
Zoysia
Traffic Tolerance8 / 10

Similarly, 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 Tall Fescue and Zoysia.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Tall Fescue establishes at a moderate rate, presenting a robust, deep-rooted lawn that is heat and drought-tolerant, often recommended for transitional zones.

Tall 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, Tall Fescue is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Tall Fescue is fairly resistant to many pests, though it can encounter issues with brown patch and fusarium blight, especially in hot, humid weather.

Tall Fescue
Resistance6 / 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, Zoysia edges out the competition.

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Tall 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: 4 for Tall Fescue, 4 for Zoysia
  • Shade Tolerance: 7 for Tall Fescue, 6 for Zoysia
  • Drought Tolerance: 7 for Tall Fescue, 8 for Zoysia
  • Traffic Tolerance: 7 for Tall Fescue, 8 for Zoysia
  • Establishment Rate: 6 for Tall Fescue, 4 for Zoysia
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 6 for Tall Fescue, 7 for Zoysia

Drumroll please...

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

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