When many folks think of soil, they think of rich, dark soil that effortlessly supports plant life. However, while this soil is prevalent in some areas, soil types range drastically based on location. So, what happens if you have sandy soil? Will your Bermudagrass lawn grow or thrive in your sandy yard? Let’s find out.
What Is Sandy Soil?
Sandy soil is exactly what it sounds like – soil that consists primarily or entirely of sand. While some plants can thrive in the sand, like the grasses that flourish alongside the beach, most plants have difficulty establishing themselves here.
The problem with sand is the size of its particles. The sand particles are larger than other types of soil, like finer clays and silts common in other soils. This means there’s more space between the particles, creating large air pockets and a porous layer of soil that drains exceptionally well.
However, while the soil drains well, this is problematic. It doesn’t hold onto nutrients or water, so it dries out quickly, making it challenging for various plants to survive. Some turf grasses can thrive here, but others won’t, so choosing a suitable variety is essential.
Which Grass Grows Best In Sand?
The soil of your soon-to-be lawn consists primarily of sand, making it trickier to grow grass. While you can’t grow just any grass in sandy soil, there are multiple varieties that don’t mind sandy growing locations. Here are a few of the best grass seeds for sandy soils:
Hoping to grow a lush, thick Bermudagrass lawn but have sandy soil in your yard? No worries! Bermudagrass doesn’t mind sandy soils!
Bermudagrass is a perfect grass variety for those living in warm climates with sandy soils. Since
this grass prefers well-drained soil, it’s an ideal match for sandy lawns. It’s a durable grass that grows aggressively and weathers harsh weather, including droughts and flooding.
However, while it’s relatively easy to grow, it isn’t suitable for lawns covered partially or completely by shade. It needs full sun to thrive, so if your lawn is in complete sunlight and there are no trees to steal the spotlight, Bermudagrass might be the perfect option.
Centipede grass is a low-maintenance warm-season grass ideal for sandy soil. This grass doesn’t require much water to thrive, so it doesn’t mind the dry conditions that go hand-in-hand with sandy soils.
Centipede grass thrives and grows vigorously throughout the spring and summer before dying off in the late summer to early fall. This grass doesn’t develop as deep of a root system as other warm-season grasses but still remains surprisingly heat resistant. However, while it doesn’t need tons of water to grow, it doesn’t do well during droughts due to its shallow root system.
It doesn’t mind some shade and will thrive under the shifting shade common with towering trees. However, like many grass varieties, centipede grass prefers at least 6 hours of full sun to thrive.
Zoysia is another option for your sandy lawn, as it has a high salt tolerance (varies based on cultivar) and holds up well in sandy soils. This makes it the perfect grass for coastal regions, where the sun, sand, and sea are in full effect.
Zoysia grows a deep, extensive root system, making it resistant to drought and suitable for sandy soil. It’s a reasonably low-maintenance option, as it doesn’t need to be mowed as frequently as other varieties. It holds up well under heavy foot traffic and can handle moderate shade, although it prefers the warmth of the full sun.
Fescue is an excellent choice for yards in cooler regions, especially northern coastal regions of the U.S., where sandy soils are prevalent. It grows well in well-draining soils, making it an ideal option for sandy soil.
Tall fescue develops a deep root season that surpasses the depth of many cool-season grasses, making it a hardy grass with better heat and drought resistance. It’s moderately shade tolerant but doesn’t do well under heavy shade, so it’s not a good fit for shaded yards.
Given its cool-season classification, it grows mainly through late summer into early winter and early spring to early summer. In the heat of the summer, its growth slows considerably. However, it grows rapidly when it’s in its growing season, so frequent mowings are essential.
As a perennial warm-season grass that doesn’t need much water, Bahia grass is an excellent choice for sandy soils. Bahia grass doesn’t mind dryer soils, so sandy soil isn’t an issue (although it still needs water to grow).
It’s a fairly hardy grass that develops a deep root system, making it highly tolerant of heat and drought. Because of this, Bahia grass can grow in almost any type of soil. However, while it’s impartial to its growing location, Bahia grass doesn’t grow overly thick, so it won’t give you an incredibly dense lawn.
Bahia grass prefers uninterrupted access to the sun during daylight hours but tolerates limited shade. So, if your lawn is sprawled in full sunshine, Bahia grass might be a good option.
Which Grass Should I Choose For Sandy Soil?
The grasses mentioned above thrive in sandy soils, but it isn’t as simple as choosing whichever variety you want. Choosing grass that will thrive in your climate, not just the soil in your yard, is essential. So, be sure to use your location as a factor when choosing the perfect grass type.
For example, if you live in the northern United States and have a yard full of sandy soil, be sure to choose cool-season grass. These grasses don’t mind the cooler temperatures and icy winters, making them a suitable choice for the chilly northern regions.
Or, if you live in the deep south, warm-season grass is a more suitable option. These grasses don’t mind the heat and humidity typical in these areas, making them a good choice for these regions.
You usually have more options if you live in the transitional zone, which takes up residence in a band across the mid to southern U.S. In the transitional zone, many warm and cool-season grasses will thrive. Even still, it doesn’t hurt to research and ensure you choose an appropriate variety based on your location.
If you’re unsure which grass variety best suits your needs, consult a local lawn care professional. They can offer personalized input based on factors specific to you, including your location, local climate, soil type, and shade amount. With this information, they’ll determine the best option for your lawn to ensure successful results.
5 Tips For Growing Grass In Sandy Soil
Before you tackle planting grass in your lawn’s sandy soil, review these tips. Following the proper steps will help ensure the best results, so don’t cut corners!
1. Test The Soil
Before you plant, test the soil to confirm what you’re working with. You can buy a relatively inexpensive DIY test online or from your local home improvement store. Alternatively, you can pay a lab to test the soil for you. This method usually takes longer, so give yourself plenty of time.
2. Prepare The Soil And Make Amendments
Once you receive your soil test results, you can determine what the soil needs in preparation for the grass variety. You might need to add organic amendments like compost, ground bark, peat moss, or manure to incorporate nutrients into the soil.
Till the soil to remove dead roots and debris stuck in the sand, as these could inhibit the growth of your new lawn. If weeds are growing throughout the yard, spray them with a non-selective weed killer to get rid of them.
Before you seed your yard, till two inches of organic material (like manure, peat moss, etc.) into the top six inches of soil. This will help prepare the soil for seeding. In addition, adjust the pH as necessary by adding lime (to increase) or citric acid or sulfur (to decrease).
3. Use Proper Seeding Techniques
Once your lawn is ready for seeding, it’s time to plant. While you can hand-seed the grass, this often results in a patchy lawn with randomly dense sections due to inconsistent seeding. Ideally, you should use a spreader to spread the grass seed, as this will result in a more even layer of seeds.
After seeding, cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil to prevent them from flying away in the wind. Grass seeds are incredibly lightweight and prone to floating away on windy days. To keep the soil moist as the seeds germinate, you can add a layer of peat moss or seeding straw.
4. Don’t Forget To Water
With your seeds in the ground, it comes down to the waiting game. You’ll need to exercise patience as the tiny seeds germinate and begin to sprout before growing into a luscious expanse of green. As you wait, don’t forget to water your yard.
The seeds need to remain moist but not waterlogged for germination. So, water more frequently in the early days as the seeds germinate. Once the grass is more established, you don’t need to water as frequently, but in the initial stages, moisture is essential.
5. Fertilize Regularly
When your grass is thoroughly established, you’ll need to fertilize it. Your grass needs fertilizer to flourish through the growing season, so apply fertilizer regularly based on your climate and grass variety.
In addition to fertilizing, you can leave grass clippings where they lay after mowing. The chopped blades will decompose, returning their nutrients to the soil. So, if you don’t mind leaving the clippings on your lawn, avoid bagging and removing them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should You Mix Sand With Bermuda Seed?
When planting Bermudagrass, mixing in some dry sand doesn’t hurt. Bermuda seeds are tiny, making it hard to spread even distribution. So, by adding sand, you can ensure a more even distribution across your lawn when using the seed spreader.