Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Sandy soils are great because they drain easily, but they’ll also lose nutrients quickly if you don’t treat them right. Plus, you’ll need to know exactly what type of grass will work to make the most out of your sandy yard.
So, what do you do if you have sandy soil?
Check out these are the best grasses for sandy soil:
- Bermuda grass.
- Centipede grass.
- Bahia grass.
- Fescue grasses.
Before we take you through these, let us guide you through choosing the best option for you.
How to Pick the Best Grass for Sandy Soil
You’ll waste money and time on fertilizer and watering if you don’t make sure the grass is ideal for your soil.
Here are some tips for picking out the best grass for sand soil:
Deep Root System
Growing grass in sandy soil can be difficult because the soil is so porous. This means nutrients and moisture drain away quickly from the top layers, and the grass roots can’t reach it.
If you want to improve your chances of getting a thick, green lawn in sandy soil, pick grass seed varieties that develop deep roots . They’ll draw in more moisture and nutrients from the soil, and you’ll need to water and fertilize less frequently.
Know Your Location
If you’re in the Northern states, a cool-season grass seed, such as fescue grasses, is ideal. Cool-season grass types can’t take hot summers, but they don’t get damaged during harsh winters.
For the southerners with sandy soil, go for warm-season grasses, such as bermuda grass and centipede grass. They thrive in hot summers and mild winters and are often more drought-tolerant.
In the transition zone that extends through the United States between the warm and cool climates, growing a thriving lawn is a challenge. Most grass types will have either a poor heat or cold tolerance. However, some of the best grass seed for sandy soil, such as tall fescue and zoysia, can work well in this environment.
Know the Humidity and Heat Level
The most challenging aspect of growing in sandy soil conditions is usually maintaining water and nutrients, but your new lawn can also be vulnerable to fungal diseases.
Conditions such as brown patch and large patch develop in high heat and humidity, and both cool-season and warm-season grasses can be vulnerable to them.
If you don’t apply a fungicide in time, these patches connect and create large brown areas, which are unsightly and prevent your grass from growing.
Shade and Sunlight
Improve your lawn’s chances of survival with a variety that can tolerate some shade.
For example, bermuda grass needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day, while zoysia grass will survive with at least six. Tall fescue grass can grow well with less, so it’s ideal when looking for lawn grass that grows in sand and thrives in the shade.
If you have kids, pets or a play area, consider children-friendly variants, such as bermuda grass and zoysia.
They’re also ideal for high-traffic areas, such as sports fields, because they recover fast and withstand wear and tear.
So, What’s the Best Grass for Sandy Soil?
You should now have an idea of the type of best grass for sandy soil you’ll need.
With this information in mind, check out these grass seed for sandy soil reviews:
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass that’s native to Africa, making it naturally heat and drought-resistant. This is why it’s ideal for quick-draining sandy soils in warm climates, such as in the southern US.
This grass type features a dark-green blade that looks good and endures heavy foot traffic well. Still, thanks to its fine leaves, bermuda grass is soft underfoot, making it a perfect child-friendly option.
From the sandy coastline to material-rich loamy and clay soils, this warm-weather grass thrives almost everywhere. Bermuda grass has a deep root system that extends into the soil, forming networks that absorb water and mineral nutrients.
Be aware that bermuda grass spreads aggressively both on the ground—through stolons—and below ground—through rhizomes—so it can take over flower beds and veggie patches. To combat this, use a lawn edger to create clear borders and do active weed control, especially in the first weeks after seeding.
Note that Bermuda grass thrives under a lot of sunlight and goes brown under too much shade. Avoid sowing it in the shade of buildings or trees or misty or cloudy environments. Consider options such as fescue grass seed if this applies to your garden.
Centipede grass is ideal as an affordable option that needs little care and thrives in warm areas with good drought tolerance.
This grass grows well in well-drained, infertile sandy soils. The color is pale green, which isn’t to everyone’s liking, but if you try to make your centipede grass dark green with fertilizer, it can turn yellow.
Despite its naturally shallow root system, it doesn’t require frequent watering. Depending on the rainfall in your area, you may not need to water it at all. This is why it’s sometimes called the “lazy man’s grass.”
While centipede is a spreading grass, it grows slowly by the shallow-rooted stolon. For this reason, the exposed stolons may freeze to completion during the winter season.
Besides, freezing temperatures, nematodes or roundworms can damage centipede turfs, making them appear weak and thin. Also, if the roots are shallow and weak, the turf can wear out in a process called centipede decline. You can promote stronger roots with less-frequent watering.
Bahia grass originally arrived in the United States from Brazil. Today, it’s common in the southeast, especially in the infertile sandy soils of Florida.
Thanks to its resilient root system, it’s a low-maintenance turf with amazing resistance to both drought and heat, It doesn’t need much watering or fertilizer, and since it’s low-growing, you don’t have to mow regularly. But, bahia grass doesn’t form a thick carpet and can go dormant and stop growing in a drought.
What some people don’t love about bahia grass is that it forms a distinctive V-shaped seed head that doesn’t necessarily look attractive. However, the seed heads allow it to reseed itself if you leave it alone.
Fescue grasses are popular cool-season grasses in the Northern Midwest and New England. They’re ideal when looking for drought and shade-resistant grass with deep roots that can find nutrients and moisture in sandy soil.
These are the best types of fescue grasses for sandy soils.
Tall fescue is the epitome of resilience and durability. It adapts to a wide range of climates and tolerates heat, drought and shade but is best in sunny areas and well-drained, sandy soils.
These cool-season grasses stand out for their rich, dark-green color. If you seed densely enough, tall cool-season fescue grass grows into beautiful turfs with a fine, soft texture.
On the negative side, tall fescue is slow to grow. It doesn’t recover well if it gets damaged, and you may need to reseed. It’s also vulnerable to brown patch, so it’s not best suited for hot and humid locations.
Fine fescues, such as hard fescue and creeping red fescue, have fine, soft leaves and adapt well to shaded conditions. They’re one of the best grass types for sandy soil options for cold climates, but they won’t survive high heat.
Hard fescue is a dark-grayish green grass that thrives in low-fertility sandy soils and requires low maintenance and mowing.
Hard fescue also does well in both the drought and cold, making it ideal for cool climates with low rainfall. Although it doesn’t need much water, this cool-season grass doesn’t survive the heat and will take a long time to recover if it gets damaged, though.
Creeping red fescue is equally slow-growing and low-maintenance. The grass grows well in sandy soil, even mountainous environments. This thin-bladed, soft turf grass also requires low to no mowing, fertilization or watering.
Note that you can use two cool-season grass seed types, such as creeping red fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, together to increase the lawn’s shade-tolerance.
Zoysia grass is a thin-bladed lawn grass native to Asian countries. It grows best in warm areas, especially the southern two-thirds of the US. Unlike many other warm-season grasses, zoysia grass endures traffic and shade.
It also has good drought tolerance after it’s established, which can take a couple of years. The roots grow deep to form a network that absorbs moisture from soils, making it ideal for sandy lawns. It also forms a thick, green turf that doesn’t leave room for weeds.
Zoysia grass can survive cold temperatures and does well under both shade and sunlight. Also, its low-growing blades can be fine or coarse, but they tend to be stiff. This means more work when you’re mowing and even sharpening your lawnmower blades more often.
Note that zoysia browns and goes dormant quickly after the first frost; this is its major downside. Otherwise, zoysia guarantees value for money when looking for a tough grass seed for sandy soil.
How to Get Your Sandy Yard Ready For Grass
When you’ve picked the best grass seed for sandy soil, you’ll need to prepare your yard correctly to get that lush, healthy lawn.
These steps will help you get it just right.
PH Test and Compost to Improve Your Lawn
Sandy soils are naturally more alkaline, while clay soils retain more acidity. To keep pests and bacteria at bay, you should try to keep your soil slightly acidic to neutral, at a pH between 5.9 and 7. You can provide more acidity to your soil with composting.
The soil’s acidity also affects how grass absorbs water and minerals. To avoid guesswork, gather sample soil from various parts and depths of your yard. Then, try a DIY kit to test your soil’s pH and nutrient balance.
Organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, increases the soil’s capacity to store and supply essential nutrients. The nutrients improve soil fertility and help the grass grow stronger, greener and thicker.
Seeding a Lawn on Sandy Soil the Right Way
This is how to apply the grass seed on your sandy soil:
- Break up the top 6 to 8 inches of soil with a tiller or spade.
- Remove rocks and weeds that might prevent the new plants from growing.
- Mix 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, compost or manure to give nutrients back into the soil.
- Use lawn starter fertilizer before sowing the grass seed, mixing it into the top inches of soil.
- Check the amount of grass seed you’ll need. Each brand and type of grass will have different specifications.
- Apply the grass seed by hand, or with a spreader if your lawn is big. Do it first in vertical rows, then horizontally to cover everything.
- Rake gently to get the grass seed in the ground to prevent birds from picking the seeds.
- If your grass seed doesn’t include mulch, apply some, but only a light layer.
- Water as below.
How to Water a New Grass Seed
For the first two weeks, you’ll need to water the soil at least once a day to ensure it remains moist, making sure not to saturate the soil. You’re germinating a grass seed, and you won’t succeed if you let it dry out.
If it’s dry and windy, you might need to water more than once a day until the grass starts to grow all over.
How To Maintain a Beautiful Sandy Lawn
Level-Up Your Yard With These Methods
A beautiful yard is about more than just maintaining your grass. These are some other ways to make your yard more appealing:
- External lighting: Add lights for a cozier environment at night.
- Outdoor furniture: Create comfortable areas for relaxing with yard furniture.
- Planting trees: Trees like ash, mulberry and oak thrive in sandy soils and help stabilize the soil.
- Planting shrubs: Shrubs and flowers, such as juniper and sage, can make your yard look more appealing and grow well in dry conditions.
Go For a Rock Garden!
A rock garden with suitable plants can be a lifesaver if you’re living in a harsh climate, and it can change the garden’s dynamics. A well-thought-out rock garden can combine well with grass or work on its own.
Creative combinations of large stones, pebbles, rocks and boulders add diversity, but you can put some plants to the mix! Different species of cactus and aloe vera will survive even dry Southern climates and dry sandy soils.
There’s no single best grass for sandy soil. The right grass for you depends on the weather, sunshine, foot traffic and sandy soil pH levels. This way, you can create a lush and green yard while putting less time into maintenance.
Once you’re set on a grass type, make sure you pay attention to how to grow grass in sandy soil. Prepare your yard before seeding and water frequently for optimal growth of the grass.
Which is your favorite grass for sandy soils? Let us know in the comments!