What Grass Is Best When You Have Sandy Soil? 

What Grass Is Best When You Have Sandy Soil 

If you’ve got sandy soil in your garden, you don’t need to give up on grass just yet.

I know that a sandy yard can seem a little like a death sentence for those green grassy strands, but there are definitely ways to work around that harsh environment. 

Throughout this article, you’ll learn all the tips and tricks to turn that thick and luscious green grass daydream into reality. I’m not saying that it’ll be the easiest journey to get there, but get there we certainly will.

All it takes is a little perseverance, a little passion, and a little know-how. You have the first two, and I have the latter, so together we’ll make a pretty good team. 

We’ll take a look at the top 5 grass types for those sandy terrains, and then we’ll go into the best tips and tricks to keep that pristine look. 

Picking The Right Grass

Not all grass was made equal, and when it comes to choosing the right grass for you, you’ll need to ensure that it matches the type of soil you have in your backyard. 

And if you’re here today, you have sandy soil. So what’s the issue with sandy soil? And why won’t just any kind of grass thrive and flourish in this condition?

Well, this type of soil drains water pretty quickly and we all know that grass needs water to survive. 

Grass likes to be surrounded by plenty of water and loads of nutrients in the ground to really come alive and have that thick growth and vivid green color.

If you’ve got sandy soil, there’s not really much of either of these things which is where the problems arise. Sandy soil is perfect for your perennial plants and fruit trees, but for grass…not so much. 

But that doesn’t mean that all grass won’t grow in your soil. You just need to pick the right grass. Once you do, the work won’t stop there, you’ll also have to upkeep a particular routine to ensure that it stays luscious.

I say a particular routine because each type of grass will need its own set of maintenance, which can get a little bit confusing but don’t worry there will be more on that later. 

What Is The Best Grass For Sandy Soil? 

So now that you understand why you must pick the right grass. Let’s get onto which kind of grass actually is the best kind of grass for sandy soil. In my opinion, there are 5 major types of grass that will work well in your sandy soil. 

The reason that these types of grass work well in your soil type is that they thrive in dry environments and since they don’t require as much moisture, they can survive well in that sandy soil. 

1. Bermuda Grass

The first thing I should mention is that this grass type will work perfectly well if you have lots of direct sunlight shining its rays into your garden.

If your garden is constantly covered in clouds or shade, then you’ll need to move on to one of the other four options as it will not grow without ample sun exposure. 

But if you do have lots of sun shining into your garden then this could be the perfect fit for you. It requires significantly less water than many colder temperature grasses and the grass type actually needs soil that drains efficiently. 

Bermuda grass is fast-growing and creates a rich and thick dark green lawn that is to die for. Not only will it thrive well in your soil type, but it will also look great too. 

2. Centipede Grass

Initially originating from China and Southeast Asia, this grass derives its name from its stolons which resemble the insect.  This grass typically spreads via stolons which are these creeping, horizontal stems.

They branch off in different directions and form new plants. They sit above ground and take root whenever they come into contact with soil. 

Because of this growth process, it can be quite a slow-growing grass that has an initial course texture. However, this grass has the potential to grow into a really thick carpet that will be ideal for a backyard. 

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Much like Bermuda grass, though, it does require frequent sunlight in order to grow. Although, Centipede grass requires barely any fertilizing or mowing which is always a plus. 

3. Bahia Grass

Bahia grass has many advantages. It has deep and resilient roots that make it perfect for sandy soils. The roots grow very deep underground and can still take in all those essential nutrients and water in the driest and most infertile of soils.

It has adapted to grow on beaches, so it will definitely be able to grow in your sandy soil. Not only this but when you mow the grass (which you’ll need to do regularly) you’ll naturally spread seeds over the yard. 

However, it also doesn’t come without some disadvantages. Bahia grass is quite light in color so you won’t get that dark green luscious garden blanket.

At least not without a fair bit of TLC. When Bahia grass goes without water for long periods, the color will also become even lighter. This is why I think it’s always best to mix this type of grass with another self-spreader. 

4. Fescue Grasses

This is another form of grass with a deep root system. This means that it will easily sustain itself in soils without much moisture, making it perfect for sandy soils.

However, this type of grass fairs much better in a cooler climate, so it’s best for backyards in the pacific northwest and New England. 

If you’ve had to rule out some of the grass options on the list due to a lack of sunlight, you’ll be happy to learn that Fescue grasses can live easily in shady areas that receive small amounts of sunlight. 

The grass types are all drought-resistant. The different types of Fescue Grass are: 

  • Creeping Red – This type of Fescue grass grows relatively slowly but does adapt well to a soil that is slightly acidic. It’s low-maintenance to upkeep and is a great choice for growing thick and dense grass in dark and shady areas.
  • Tall – If you’re looking for grass that is going to give you a beautiful deep and rich color, then this is the one for you. It works great for filling in thin areas providing the seed is spread densely. If it is spread thinly you tend to end up with patchy or clumpy grass. 
  • Hard – If you hate garden-upkeep then you’ll love Hard Fescue. It needs very little maintenance or mowing. However, this grass type hates hot weather and cannot survive in high temperatures, so you’ll need to live in a generally colder area to choose Hard Fescue. 
What Grass Is Best When You Have Sandy Soil  (1)

5. Zoysia Grass

We have yet another grass with a deep root system, are you starting to notice the pattern of what sandy soil grasses tend to need to have?

These roots allow them to survive in environments with fewer nutrients and moisture making them a perfect option. 

However, if you’re looking for a particularly fast growth rate, then this may not be the option for you. Zoysia can take a very long time to actually grow, though that speed can be increased by the use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers.

If you choose this grass type, you may notice after the first frost, it starts to lose its rich green color which quickly turns to brown.

Don’t despair, the grass is rather resilient and by the time Spring comes back around, you’ll have a new and beautiful green grassed garden. 

Get Your Sandy Soil Ready For Grass

Once you come to the decision of which grass to plant, you’ll need to ensure that the soil is well and ready before you begin. 

The very first thing you’ll need before you start anything is knowledge and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your perfect garden won’t grow overnight.

You need to understand that this will be a long process, at least a month or two, before you’ll start seeing the results you’re after. I only say this to avoid disappointment.

Growing grass is no instant or quick fix, especially not from seed, and you’ll need to be prepared for that. 

So now that we’ve covered that, let’s look at how you’ll need to prepare that sandy soil for your luscious grass growth. 

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Seeding Your Lawn

First thing first, your topsoil must be prepared to take in your new grass. 

To do this, you’ll need to rid your yard of any debris. Get collecting all those sticks, large pebbles or stones, for example. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to use a rototiller that’ll loosen your topsoil, especially if it’s compacted and dense.

Then you’ll need to amend the soil with compost so that the soil has an increased amount of nutrients. 

When you’ve done this, you can then move on to applying your fertilizer. It’ll need to be a high phosphorus fertilizer. With an Iron rake, you can mix this in with the topsoil.

Next, you can then start to spread your seeds. With the back of your rake, you should then place a layer of soil over the top of your seed. Pressing it in with the rake gently will help your grass grow more effectively. 

While this last step isn’t critical, I always like to go over the top of the soil with either peat moss or straw mulch to give a little extra moisture and nutrients to the ground to help with the germination process.

Watering New Grass Seed

This next step is important, but it can be a little tricky. You need to water your lawn, but this needs to be done very evenly. Underwater or overwater the seeds, and they won’t grow right. 

Your aim is to moisten the ground and ensure the seed adheres to the soil. Too much water will wash the seeds away before they’ve settled, which is something we definitely want to avoid. 

As I’ve mentioned above, sandy soil drains water quite quickly, so you will need to water your lawn again once the seed has germinated and the grass has begun to grow. 

Why Compost Is So Valuable 

All gardeners love compost, it is invaluable to growing pretty much anything. And grass is no exception.

You should always add compost to the top of your soil around autumn time at least once annually for the first 3-4 years of growing your grass. 

You’ll do this for a few reasons. Firstly, it will improve your yard’s drought tolerance. Secondly, as the compost begins to break down, it will improve its ability to retain water as well as allow the roots to take hold quicker.

Compost is also jam-packed with essential microbes and nutrients that your grass and soil will definitely thank you for. 

I always recommend making your own compost from leaves, grass cuttings, and the like to save yourself some money. But that choice is up to you. 

Maintaining Your Grass Once It’s Grown

The good news is that once you get to this point, the hardest part is over. While establishing a thick green grassy lawn in sandy soil can be pretty difficult, maintaining it is much, much easier. 

Because of your soil type, and the grass that you have picked to correspond with it, you shouldn’t have a grass type that needs much watering at all. Most of the grass types mentioned above also need very little mowing. 

As long as you have stuck to the right grass type for your sun exposure and temperature, once the grass has grown, you really shouldn’t come up against many difficulties at all. 

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Other Ways To Improve Your Yard

Of course, when it comes to our lawns, we all want the nicest, brightest, thick and luscious carpet of grass. But sometimes that isn’t always possible.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a beautiful garden without green grass. There are other options for sandy soiled gardens, should you really struggle with growing green grass. 

Perennial Garden Beds

Perennial flowers are flowers that will come back to life in the spring once those colder winter nights finally draw to a close. You can get so many absolutely beautiful and bright perennial flowers that adore that dry, infertile, sandy soil. 

If you have small areas of your garden where the grass is being stubborn, it may be a much easier and cheaper option to turn that spot into a beautiful flower bed, rather than trying to regrow the grass. 

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Black-Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Russian Sage, Salvias, and Hyssops are just but a few of the perennial flowers that will survive easily in moisture-lacking conditions.

They all look absolutely stunning and can actually be really great for the ecosystem and environment too. These flowers will attract butterflies, bees, and loads of other pollinators to your garden. 

Plant Low Maintenance Shrubs

If creating flower beds seems like too much effort, planting shrubs can be another option that requires much less maintenance. 

Shrubs such as Currants, Shrub Roses, Junipers, And Bald Cypress’ are all great examples that will work well in sandy soil.

They’re perfectly pretty and will mean that you can rid yourself of those stressful mowing and maintenance sessions in your troublesome spot of the yard. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Sod On Top Of Sand? 

Yes! Sod can pretty much be installed on any kind of soil there is. It’ll be fine on sand, silt, loam, or clay. However, in many cases, you’ll need to add a 4-6 inch layer of topsoil before you install the sod. 

What Classes As Sandy Soil? 

Sandy soil is usually classed as soil that is coarse in texture until around 50 cm in depth and consequently retains very few nutrients and has a low capacity for holding water. 

What Is Sandy Soil Good For? 

Plants that have strong root systems and thrive well in dry and acidic soils will do perfectly in sandy soils. Root vegetables, Alliums, and Herbs will grow great in this soil type. 

Is Sandy Soil Poor Soil? 

Sandy soils are not always seen as the optimum soil type since sandy soils tend not to be very fertile compared to other soils. Because they are made up of fairly large particles, they are a lot more prone to drying out.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always poor soil, as some plants thrive in these conditions. 

What Is The Best Soil Type For Grass? 

Ideally, you’ll want a soil that is balanced evenly between sand, silt, and clay. This soil type is known as loam soil.

This soil tends to be the perfect choice for grass as it can hold the moisture whilst also draining effectively once watered. It also retains nutrients really well whilst also allowing airflow. 

What Is The Best Thing To Add To Sandy Soil? 

If you’re looking to improve your sandy soil then you’ll want to use amendments that increase the soil’s ability to retain water as well as increase the soil’s level of nutrients.

Well rotted manure and compost work well at improving sandy soil the quickest. 

Should I Water My Grass Everyday?

No lawn, regardless of the season, will need watering every single day. During the summer, it’s rare that you’ll need to water your grass more than three times a week.

And when it comes to sandy soil this can drop down to even less. When watering your grass you should always ensure correct penetration as well as minimal runoff. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t let your soil type stand in the way of a beautiful garden. As you can see from this article there are plenty of ways to still create a serene and gorgeous yard regardless of your soil type.

While sandy soil might not be able to grow all types of grass, there are definitely still options available. 

As long as you have the patience, you should have no issues growing grass in your yard now that you know which grass types will succeed.

Stick to these types of grass, taking your sunlight exposure and temperature into consideration, and you should not struggle to get that thick carpet in just a matter of months. 

And if that doesn’t work for you, you can always opt to ditch the grass completely and add either some gorgeous pollinating flower beds or some easy, convenient, and low-maintenance shrubs. 

Whichever option you choose, I wish you the best of luck in your garden improvement journey. I’m sure in no time at all, you’ll have that idyllic backyard you’ve always dreamed about.