All of us dream of a perfect lawn. Soft and green grass to walk on. However, sandy soil can make your dream of a perfect lawn seem far away from reality, and it is found in many parts of the world.
But there is a catch to it. The best type of soil to grow grass on is sandy soil. It is because lawns are known to thrive in quick-draining conditions.
In this article, we will find out the bestgrass for sandy soil. Let us start with understanding what exactly is sandy soil.
Sandy Soil Structure
Sandy soil has a high percentage of soil in it (usually 35% or sand and less than 15% of silt or clay). The particles of this soil are larger than other types.
Also known as light soil, it is dry, nutritious, and fast draining. It has a light and loose structure and does not get sticky.
If you want to check the soil of your lawn and find out whether it is sandy or not, simply touch it and roll it in your hands.
If the soil is sandy, you will feel sand grains within it. It will fall through your fingers. You will find it difficult to create some shape out of it. You need to identify the kind of soil so that you can decide the right grass to grow on it.
Grass for Sandy Soil
Growing any plant in sandy soil is tough even for an expert gardener. This soil has a poor water retention capacity and it becomes difficult to grow most grass types due to the air pockets created by the irregular and round sand particles. Grass species experience trouble establishing roots in loose soil.
Having said that, grass can grow on sandy soil. There are some grass species suited for sandy soil. With some love and care, you can make your dream of a lush green lawn into reality. Only those grasses that need a lot of nutrients and moisture have trouble growing. Let us have a look into grasses that thrive on sandy soil:
This perennial, cold-season grass grows best in the sand. It requires a pH of 5.5 to 8.0, which usually is the pH of sandy soil. And not just sand, this grass is highly adaptive to various soil types including gravel, pebbles, beaches, etc.
It can also grow in meadows. Fescues are hard and can sustain itself in areas with low water because it has a deep root system.
This type of grass is resilient and can thrive in shady areas with little sunlight. Fescues grow thick so you can use them to fill the empty patches in your yard. Fescue is of three types, all of which can be grown on sandy soil:
Creeping Red Fescue: A low-maintenance and slow-growing variety that spreads with both underground rhizomes and stolon’s.
Tall Fescue – Ideal for withstanding shady areas, tall fescue provides a rich colour to the yard. You need to spread the seeds evenly if you want a uniform look.
Hard Fescue – It does not require consistent mowing or much maintenance. However, hard fescue is not tolerant to high temperatures. It is drought tolerant.
Native to Asian countries, it is thin-bladed lawn grass. It is best suited for warm areas, but unlike other warm-season grasses, it can endure traffic and shade.
It also has a deep root system making it ideal grass for sandy soil. It is tolerant to drought but may take a few years after establishment. This is a great option if you want to grow grass near the beach.
It does not need much water to survive but can grow slowly. To accelerate its growth, you need to fertilize it with nitrogen and phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
Zoysia grass has a disadvantage too. It starts browning quickly after the first season’s frost so your lawn will not look as green as it was during the season. But it can bounce back into a bright colour during springtime.
Zoysia tolerates cold well and forms dense carpets of sod making it an ideal grass for sandy soil. It is resistant to weeds.
This type of grass loves sunlight and stays green for a long time, probably longer than the ones we have discussed so far. The grass is thick and dark green. It is capable of surviving periods of low rainfall and flooding.
Bermuda is grass for sandy soil because it requires a ground that drains well for growing. Contrary to Zoysia, Bermuda grows very quickly. It also needs less water.
However, if you have shade in your lawn, it is advised to go for other alternatives because Bermuda cannot thrive without sunlight. It will suffer if placed in a shady area. It goes dormant during the winter and bounces back during spring.
Two popular variants of Bermuda Grass are Yukon Bermuda and Riviera Bermuda. Both varieties grow well in sandy soil. Bermuda can also grow in clayey soil; it is versatile. Other names of Bermuda grass commonly known are crabgrass, dog’s tooth grass, wiregrass, and devil’s grass.
Bermuda is a fine quality grass, and it is preferred as a turfgrass in sports grounds. It can also work as a green cover for preventing erosion.
This grass is also well adapted for sandy areas owing to its deep root system. It has an outstanding drought and heat tolerance. You should mow it regularly which will result in spreading its seed across the yard.
Bahia does not demand fertilizers or a lot of water. These are the reasons why it is a perfect grass for sandy soil and is chosen by homeowners for their lawns.
However, a major disadvantage of Bahia is its colour. It does not have a rich, green colour like other grasses. It has a lighter shade of green. It has a coarse feel and takes some time to grow. Bahia has disease-resistant roots.
The roots can grow up to 12-feet dense. Bahia can easily become stable as it is low growing. Some people also tend to not choose Bahia due to a distinctive V-shaped seed head it has which does not look attractive. But these seed heads will reseed themselves if you leave them alone.
Another negative point of this grass is that it looks unpleasantly brown in its dormant stage in the winter. That is why people use it more in large fields with sandy soil where appearance is not important.
Centipede grass is thick and forms sod. Just like other grasses, centipede also spreads by stolon’s which are horizontal stems that branch off to form new plants by running over the top of the ground. This grass grows slowly and is coarse in texture.
Just like Bermuda grass, Centipede also requires a lot of sunlight to grow and does not thrive in shady areas. So, you should go with another option if your lawn is shady. The name of this grass is derived from its stolon’s which resemble centipedes.
There is a reason why centipede does well in sandy soil. It creates a thick carpet-like sod and thus the unstable nature of sandy soil does not affect it much. The roots also allow the grass to trap nutrients and moisture before it drains away.
Please remember that centipede grass needs more water than the other varieties we talked about in this article. It is also less hardy and can only endure light frost only. Its colour is a pleasant light green.
Growing Grass for Sandy Soil: Process
Getting the Soil Ready
After you have selected the best grass for your soil, the next step is to prepare your sandy yard for seeding. Sandy soils are alkaline in nature and clayey soils are more acidic.
To keep pests away, your soil’s pH level should be slightly acidic to neutral, that is, between 5.9 and 7. To make an alkaline soil acidic, you can decrease the pH level by composting.
How grass absorbs nutrients and water is also influenced by the acidity of your soil. To check it, gather a sample from your yard and use a DIY kit to test the pH level. You can also reach out to a laboratory nearby and get the pH level of your soil.
Make sure the soil in your yard has organic matter, like compost, which increases soil’s capacity to store nutrients. This will help the grass grow stronger and greener.
Clear the area of your lawn and remove all debris, rocks, and weeds. Spread the compost well evenly over the entire area. Now mix the compost with soil with the help of a tiller. Mix it with about six inches of soil.
There is no need to dig very deep because sandy soil is naturally loosely packed. Composts usually come with salt in them. So, if you live near a beach or sea, use only plant-based compost to prevent putting extra salt in your soil.
Mixing peat is also advisable for sandy soil as it helps trap water. It may also cut down the number of times you will need to water your grass in the future.
A lot of people prefer laying seeds as it is the cheapest way to establish a green lawn, but it takes a bit longer. Moreover, most grass varieties are available in seed form. If you choose grass that is less common, you may need to order online.
To make the lawn look better, some people also use different varieties together. You can mix warm-season and cold-season grasses or shade-loving and non-shade-loving grasses together so that in a particular time of the year your lawn does not look dead.
Start sowing the seeds as per the seeding rate printed on the seed bag’s label. We cannot mention one seeding rate as mixtures have different seeding rates depending on the seed concentration in the bag or the grass species.
You should divide the seeding rate by two and apply it in two applications – one horizontal and one vertical to ensure even coverage. Rake the soil surface gently and dust the grass seed within 1/16 inches in the soil. Sprinkle little mulch or peat over the surface such that 50 percent of the soil surface is covered.
Water the lawn regularly two to four times a day. Most grasses take 14 days to germinate, but this may depend on the species. Make sure you keep the soil moist to a couple of inches. Do not overwater your newly seeded lawn or you will wash away the grass seed before it settles in the soil.
How often you need to fertilize your lawn depends on many factors like the grass species, how much precipitation your lawn receives and how sandy your soil is.
Grass for sandy soil is low maintenance, it does not really need fertilization. But since sandy soil facilitates drainage of nutrients, it is safe to fertilize your lawn twice a year with smaller amounts during each application.
Growing a lush, green lawn is not as difficult as you think it is. Choose the right grass for sandy soil, prepare your soil well and pay some attention to the grass while it is growing. Once it becomes like a carpet, you just must enjoy it!