What Kind of Grass Grows in Sand?

When you hear about sandy soil, it doesn’t initially sound good for your grass prospects. In some regions, the soil is sandier than others, but this doesn’t always have to complicate your lawn growing desires. In fact, sand in the ground can be beneficial to grass growth.

In the southwest and coastal locations, there can be a lot of sand present in the soil. Some grasses grow exceptionally well in these areas, like beach grasses and grass native to semi-arid and arid regions. This is due to sand’s well-draining nature that can help grass establish deep roots.

When you know how the presence of sand affects your own lawn’s soil, you can work with it and use it to your advantage for a complete and attractive yard.

How Do You Grow Grass In Sandy Soil?

When growing grass in any kind of soil, evaluating the composition is an important first step to growing and maintaining your lawn in the best condition. Sandy soil is dry because sand is made of inorganic particles of stone, shell, and other minerals, which repels and drains water quickly.

This might sound like it would be a problem for grass, whose roots need regular water. However, when you water your lawn regularly, the fast-draining sandy soil will encourage deep root growth that reaches down to absorb as much water as possible.

Nutrient Availability In Soil

This doesn’t mean grass can grow in pure sand; organic material is required in the ground to provide nutrients, water retention, and temperature control. Humus, the decomposing, actively organic material in soil from which roots draw nutrients, is most abundant in the topsoil layer of the ground.

The topsoil is also where the most oxygen is located: the porous nature of the surface level soil is the most aerated part. If the soil is compact, it doesn’t absorb air or water well, and roots don’t have space to expand.

Soil compaction is likely in clay soils or areas with a lot of foot or vehicle traffic. Regular aeration is a good way to maintain the health of both your soil and lawn.

Nutrient Availability In Soil

Preparing To Plant Grass In Sandy Soil Conditions

Depending on how much sand is present in your soil, it may take more or less amounts of topsoil or fertilizer to provide the nutrients to grow new grass. Performing a soil analysis test will let you know if it’s balanced in vitamins and minerals that grasses need to grow.

The specific grass types you choose will have care instructions on the package, and you can find the corresponding starter fertilizer right for the seed type.

If you’re in an especially dry area, you can put topsoil over the sand to grow grass, but it will have to be done with attention and regular maintenance. Once the grass is established in the new topsoil, regular watering will be a necessity.

Watering Sandy Soil

Since sand doesn’t hold water, it can dry out very quickly. Sandier soils need less water more frequently, whereas soils with robust organic material can absorb more water and hold it over longer periods of time.

Most grasses need up to 6 inches of topsoil to grow well, so regularly monitoring the depth of the topsoil and where it merges with the sand layer will help you be sure your grass’s root system is well-grounded.

During the germination period, grass seed needs to be watered daily to keep the ground moist for the plants to grow roots and grass blades. Once seedlings are established, sandy soils will still need more frequent watering than humus-rich soil, but it will be less frequent than the seedling period of growth.

What Is The Best Type Of Grass Seed For Sandy Soil?

Once the soil composition is evaluated, you can look for the kind of grass that will be right for your climate and soil type. Some grasses can deal with more sand than others, and these are usually warm-season grasses with high drought tolerance.

Areas where soil is sandy, are often, but not always, hot, dry climates, where the heat and dryness make it difficult for less water-efficient plant species to survive.

Some of the main types of grasses that grow in sandy soil include:

  • Bermuda Grass – A classic warm-season grass, it grows well in the sun and in drier areas. Its hearty root system permits it to grow in different soil types, including sandier environments.
  • Zoysia Grass – Another warm-season grass, this species’ shallow roots and firm establishment make it an excellent lawn option for sandy soils since it takes advantage of the organic material at the topsoil level.
  • Tall Fescue – This type of grass is a cool-season species that adapts well to sandy soils due to its efficient root system and long-term storage of chlorophyll, which gives it an especially dark green color.
  • Centipede Grass – This low-maintenance warm season grass species is also good in sandy soil due to its high drought tolerance, slow growth rate, and minimal fertilization needs.

How Do You Thicken Grass In Sandy Soil?

Since grass won’t grow through sand alone, it’s important to regularly make sure the topsoil is full of nutrients, well-aerated, and moist. Performing soil tests and measuring the depth of the soil are seasonal activities that contribute to maintaining your lawn.

How Do You Thicken Grass In Sandy Soil

Regular fertilization is vital for sandy soils since the low bioactivity of sand needs to be improved manually. Supplementary inputs of fertilizer, compost, or yard litter like fallen leaves or grass clippings will help build the topsoil level of organic matter in your yard that will feel your grass and lead to thick, lush growth.

Since sand drains water quickly, monitoring the soil’s moisture content is another easy way to thicken your yard’s grass. A well-watered lawn is a well-hydrated lawn.

Overseeding the yard will also contribute to the grass’ thickness. This can be done annually without having to till over and replace the entire yard. After raking for thatch, you can sow grassed across the established lawn and spread starter fertilizer to help the seeds grow.

Sun, Shade, And Grass

Sandy soils are usually located in areas with a fair amount of sunlight: semi-arid regions, desert environments, and coastal regions and beaches. It follows that sand-tolerant grasses are generally sun tolerant as well. 

Although some grasses are more shade tolerant than others, including Zoysia and Fescue, most grasses require, on average, 4 hours of direct sunlight during the day. Even shade-tolerant species won’t thrive in constant shade, so be sure to plant grasses in areas according to their light needs and coordinated with the shadow cast in your yard.