El Toro Zoysia Grass

Why El Toro Zoysia is Number One For Springtime

In Sod Varieties by Palmers Turf


El Toro Zoysia Grass

Native to Southeast Asia, Zoysia (Zoysia spp.) is a warm-season grass imported to the United States in 1895. There are three species of zoysia and several cultivars within each species. One such cultivar, ‘El Toro,’ is a member of the Zoysia japonica species and was created in 1986 by the University of California’s Dr. Victor Youngner. Between 1997 and 2000, the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program tested ‘El Toro’ in Florida and ranked it the best performing coarse-textured zoysia variety. The cultivar outperformed others due to:

  • Fast establishment
  • Superior cool-season color
  • Drought tolerance
  • Reduced thatch
  • Insect resistance
  • Weed suppression
  • Shade tolerance

Establishment Rate

Installed by sodding or sprigging, ‘El Toro’ grass establishes itself more quickly than other zoysia grasses. It quickly spreads laterally, as well, covering bare spots swiftly and full establishment can be expected in as little as two weeks. ‘El Toro’ also turns a lush green color earlier in the spring and holds it until late fall, providing a more attractive lawn for a longer season.

Drought Tolerance

Like all zoysias, ‘El Toro’ turns brown if not irrigated during drought. The benefit of zoysia, however, is that irrigation is necessary to keep the lawn green but not to keep it alive. While it may go into dormancy and turn brown, zoysia will survive drought conditions and turn lush again when rainfall or irrigation resume. ‘El Toro’ resists drought exceptionally well and excels in areas where drought and water use restrictions are common.

Mowing and Dethatching

The mowing needs of zoysia grass was once an obstacle to its widespread use as a turfgrass. Zoysia’s thick blades are easiest to cut with a reel mower and large amounts of thatch buildup require manual removal annually with a vertical mower or aerator. ‘El Toro’ solves both of these issues as the cultivar can be mowed with a reel or rotary mower and needs dethatched only once every two to three years.


‘El Toro’ has a dense growth pattern which helps it withstand foot traffic and recover from damage quickly. It also makes it difficult for both insects and weeds to penetrate the lawn, reducing the amount and frequency of insecticide and herbicide applications. ‘El Toro’ is able to resist shade much better than other zoysia grasses as well, and often grows in corners of the yard where other grasses simply can’t.

For a time zoysia grass was a subject of debate. It was drought-tolerant and held up well to traffic, but it was also slow-growing, lost its color quickly in cool weather and created large amounts of thatch. Breeders, however, have created several cultivars of zoysia designed to embrace the plant’s positive traits while breeding out the negative ones. This has allowed zoysia grass to become a more practical and popular turfgrass choice. ‘El Toro’ is one of these superior zoysia cultivars and has earned its place as the bestselling zoysia on the market today.