All professional gardeners know that growing a beautiful lawn on sandy soil is not the easiest task. However, it is possible if you know what the best type of grass to choose is and how to grow it.
Sand is not fun when it is in your soil. It can be good for fruit trees, but not for grass.
Sand particles have an irregular shape, so there are many air pockets in such a soil. As a result, it cannot store nutrients and retain moisture long enough, and it does not provide adequate stability. Growing anything on this soil is usually problematic.
Early autumn and late spring are the best time to build your lawn grass. During this period, the grass gets enough time to develop its root system. Still, not every type of grass will grow in these conditions.
So what is the best grass for sandy soil?
The best grass varieties for sandy soil include Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Bentgrass, Bahia grass, and fescue. They have deep, strong roots that help them tolerate drought well and better absorb nutrients and water in sandy soil that drains quickly.
Best Grass For Sandy Soil
First, let’s learn more about sandy soils. The principal problem is that this soil drains water too fast, so it cannot hold water and nutrients for long. For this reason, before building your lawn in areas with sandy soils, you need to improve the soil quality.
You can grow any kind of grass in the sand if you add enough fertilizer and water. Still, some grass varieties do not grow and spread quickly enough after germination.
Sandy Soil: Advantages And Disadvantages
Sandy soils contain large particles, which are light and gritty to touch. As was mentioned above, sandy soil drains well but does not hold moisture and nutrients. Both fertilizer and water tend to leach out of this type of soil. They escape to waterways before your grass can absorb it.
Advantages of Sandy Soils:
Because of large particles that make up sandy soils, they warm up quickly in the spring. They also make the soil drain very readily because water can easily flow between them.
It is also quite easy to work with the soil’s loose texture, and your grass will quickly establish its roots (provided they get enough water and nutrition). Besides, low in nutrients sandy soils are perfect for growing wildflowers.
Disadvantages of Sandy Soils
Because of the free-draining property, sandy soils warm up quickly in the spring, but they also dry out in the summer. Even a short dry spell is enough for these soils to be devoid of moisture. Unless your grass is very drought-tolerant, you will need to water your lawn day and night.
Besides, sandy soils are often acidic, so they are not suitable for many plant species. Also, they can hold neither water nor nutrients, so all the minerals are often washed away by heavy rains.
Managing Sandy Soil
There are several methods to produce better results on sandy soils. You need to apply fewer fertilizers and less water, but more often. Also, you can enhance your lawn’s soil ability to hold onto nutrients by amending it with organic matter. To do it, mix rich in soil microbes materials, carbon-rich fertilizers, and traditional compost.
What Kind of Grass Grows Best in Sandy Soil?
There are a few types of grass suitable for sandy soils. Let us have a look at them and things you may need to know to build a healthy, great-looking lawn. Here are five grass varieties you can grow in sandy soil:
Bermuda grass is the best option for sandy soils, as this grass prefers well-drained areas. This aggressive-growing grass looks like a dense, dark green carpet that covers your garden. It will easily survive both low rainfall and flooding seasons. However, Bermuda grass does not do well in the shade, as it needs a lot of sunlight.
There are various subtypes of Bermuda grass suitable for sandy soils. Two of them are listed below.
- Riviera Bermuda grass, with its improved disease resistance, cold tolerance, and turf quality, is the result of many years of selective breeding.
- Yukon Bermuda grass was bred from five parental grass types chosen for their high turf quality and cold hardiness. It can compete with numerous other grass varieties for staying green longer before dormancy.
Both Riviera Bermuda grass and Yukon Bermuda grass are excellent options for the Transition Zone, as they minimize the risk of winter kill and retain Bermuda’s viability in sandy soils.
This grass does quite well in loose sandy soils. Zoysia’s deep, slow-growing roots make it less dependent on the soil’s fertility and improve its drought tolerance. This grass variety prefers full sun, but partial shade is also fine.
Zoysia grass forms a thick, dense lawn that is one of the first and fastest to get green in the spring and stays green longer than many other kinds of grass. This grass does not get brown even when it goes dormant.
A few years ago, the United States Department of Agriculture released Amazoy – their first Zoysia cultivar cultivated by selective breeding. This grass grows particularly great in sandy soils, as its roots can easily penetrate the loose, airy soil and grow more quickly.
Bentgrass is perennial, cool-season grass, which prefers full sunlight exposure and well-drained acidic soil with a pH level of 5 to 6.5. This type of grass is common for Southern lawns, and it favors well-aerated soils.
It means that Bentgrass is one of the best grasses for sandy areas and beaches. You can easily build a Bentgrass turf with a highly permeable mix of organic matter and sand.
This grass is the best option for the cold and humid northeastern regions of the United States.
Because of the deep and extensive root system, Bahia grass performs better than other varieties of grass in sandy soil. This grass does not need plenty of fertilizer or moisture, but it may turn brown and go dormant during prolonged drought periods.
However, there is one problem with this grass. It is not as dense as Zoysia or Bermuda, and its color is quite dull. For this reason, Bahia grass is a suitable option only for large areas with sandy soils if appearance is not your priority.
Still, one of the Bahia ecotypes, called Argentine Bahia, makes a denser and more attractive lawn with a dark green color.
Drought-tolerant Fescue grass is widely used in the Transition Zone. This grass does well in various soil types as it has a unique, extremely deep root system. Fescue grows well in both sun and shade but develops faster in the shade.
You will find more than one hundred Fescue cultivars on the market, and some of them adapt well for sandy soils. They include:
- The low-maintenance Hard Fescue, which needs mowing less frequently as it grows slowly.
- The Tall Fescue grass that forms a light green lawn of medium quality.
- The Creeping Red Fescue, which is the most popular Fescue type, fills in empty patches in lawns and grows quickly.
How Often Should I Water My Lawn With Sandy Soil?
Growing healthy grass and plants in areas with sandy or dry soil is always a challenge. Whether you have soil with a light texture or your home is in a coastal area, it is essential to take specific care when watering such a soil.
As you already know, sandy soils do not hold water well.
For this reason, watering the lawn more often and for shorter intervals is the best way to ensure the soil stays moistened. When it comes to using water efficiently, you can use both drip irrigation and soaker hoses.
The Benefits of Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation is usually the best way to water sandy or dry soil. For this method, moisture is applied to the grass through drops of water. The moisture is applied right to the surface or directly under the surface of the soil.
Drip irrigation allows you to water only the root zone instead of the whole soil volume. This watering system can increase the overall quality of your grass and save more water. It can also make it easier for the soil to keep water in the root area and reduce erosion.
How Do You Stabilize Sandy Soil?
Slaked lime is quite efficient in treating sandy and clayey soils. You can use lime alone or in combination with fertilizers.
Lime helps to neutralize sandy soil’s acidity and restore its nutrient balance.
Besides, turf grasses grow better in alkaline soil, and it is a natural way to get rid of various pests. However, be careful when using it, as slaked lime is highly caustic and can burn eyes and skin.
As you can see, growing a healthy, green lawn on sandy soil can be quite challenging. Still, if you choose the right grass type, apply fertilizer, and keep your grass well-watered, it will not be a problem for you!