Every grass species has a type of soil that they thrive the best in. Some types of grass need moist, soft soil with a lot of nutrients. Others require dense soil that is hard and dry. The type of grass you get should depend on the kind of soil you have in your yard.
Many species of grass will not grow well on sandy soil. One of the main problems with sand soil is that it is loose, so many grass species have trouble establishing and putting down roots. Sandy soil also drains quickly and will not hold nutrients as well as other types of soil.
While trees and other kinds of plants can grow well in sandy soil, grass has a tough time. This is because sandy soil has a lot of loose particles that leave air pockets. Water draws out of the soil quickly, and it has a hard time retaining nutrients. The loose soil also has trouble providing a solid base for the roots to take hold.
Can Grass Grow in Sandy Soil?
With a bit of love and care, any grass can grow in sandy soil, but it is much harder for some types than others. Specifically, grass that needs a lot of moisture and nutrients can have trouble growing. Thus, if you want to grow grass in sandy soil, it is recommended that you increase the soil's nutrient quality first through fertilizer and supplement treatments.
We will cover the best grass seed for sandy soil and talk about how you can grow a thick, green, lush yard in sandy soil.
What Grass Grows Best in Sand and Shade?
Some grasses that grow best in sand and shade include tall fescue, zoysia, bermuda, and centipede grass.
Tall fescue is one of the most popular types of grass in the US, and for good reason. This perennial cool-season grass is highly adaptable and can grow in a wide range of soil. Tall fescue grows slowly and is relatively low maintenance. Tall fescue grows well in sunlight and shade and has its prime growing season during the spring and fall.
Tall fescue also has a deep root structure so it is resistant to drought and can retain water. Red and hard fescue are the best types of fescue grass for sandy soil and can quickly fill an empty or patchy lawn. Most fescue grass requires a pH between 5.5-8.0, so it will grow in a wide variety of soil conditions.
Zoysia grass is another highly adaptable grass that can grow in sandy soil. It has a long, strong root structure and handles high heat and drought well. Once Zoysia grass takes root, it will stick around and quickly spread to form a lush, dense turf with a high resistance to foot traffic. Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass, flourishing well when planted in the late spring and early summer. It goes dormant during the winter and turns golden brown before springing back to life in the hot months. Zoysia grass grows best when exposed to frequent sunlight, but some variants also grow well in the shade.
Zoysia grass also grows well in poor solid conditions. The long root system ensures that it can sap every available nutrient and grow. The hardest part of growing Zoysia grass is making sure it establishes. Once it does, it grows quickly and lasts a long time.
Bermuda grass is another warm-season grass that can grow well in sandy soil. Bermuda grass requires well-drained soil with less water content so it is uniquely suited for growing in sandy soil. Compared to many other warm-season kinds of grass, Bermuda grass grows very quickly. It takes a bit to establish but quickly spreads to form a dense turf.
However, Bermuda grass requires a lot of sunlight to grow. It will suffer if placed in shady areas that do not get a lot of direct sunlight. It is drought-resistant and will go dormant during the winter before springing back to life in the spring and summer. Two popular varieties of Bermuda grass are Riviera Bermuda and Yukon Bermuda. Both of these varieties have great drought and cold resistance, so they do well in transition zones.
Aside from sandy soil, Bermuda grass also grows well in other types of soil like clay soil. It has a deep rhizome root system that allows it to absorb nutrients readily. The one downside is that it needs constant sunlight or else it will not grow well.
Centipede grass is very low maintenance and does not need much watering. These properties make it ideal for sandy soil. It is a warm-season grass and has its peak growing season during the spring and summer. Centipede grass has excellent heat resistance, but it does have a relatively shallow root system compared to other warm-season grasses.
How Do I Treat My Lawn in Sandy Soil?
One of the main problems with sandy soil is that it does not retain nutrients as well as other types of soil, so growing a healthy lawn takes extra effort. Sandy soil has large particles that let water drain, and loose composition makes it hard for roots to take hold.
One way to treat sandy soil is to add a compost layer, which will help grass form a dense thatch layer that will keep it anchored to the ground. You can also add fertilizers that are high in nitrogen and potassium, two nutrients that grass and plants need to grow healthily.
One thing to watch out for with sandy soil is salt levels. Salt can stay in the soil, and the sodium content can damage plants and grass. Plant-based composts such as peat are a good way to amend the soil composition while minimizing salt levels.
Also, the more grass you grow, the better quality the soil will become. Older grass layers contribute to thatch, which in turn helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients. So typically, sandy soil works better when you are reseeding a lawn rather than making one purely from scratch.