Grass that Grows in Sand | Top 5 Sandy Soil Types

Finding a grass that grows in the sand is not an impossible task but researching is imperative to find the best option for your yard. There are many places around the world where soil contains some portion of sand. There are even some areas where the soil is primarily sand alone. You will most often find these conditions near the coastlines. While beaches have the high-sand content, you will find some sand in the soil of the surrounding area for some miles. This poses a challenge to certain kinds of grasses. Sand packs densely and is heavier than normal soil, preventing the growing roots. At the surface, sand is easily blown away, revealing the top of the root systems. This leaves some grass species vulnerable to scorching sunlight. Sand also drains quickly, leaving the top layers dry.

Don’t worry. There are several grass species that can grow well in sandy soil. These include fescue, zoysia, Bermuda grass, bentgrass, and bahiagrass. The benefit to these species is the deep root systems they can develop. This allows them to get moisture from the deeper soils as the top of the sandy soil drains. They’re also less vulnerable to erosion.

Five Types of the Grass that Grows in Sand

It’s important to understand that all grasses can be started in sand. The problem is that they will not be able to grow efficiently without a deep root system. They will be slow to spread out as they struggle to reach maturity. However, there are five kinds of grass that grows in sand soil:

1. Bahiagrass

Bahiagrass
  • If you’re looking for a grass that grows in sand, Bahiagrass might be a good choice for you. Its roots grow deep, making a well-drained soil like sand ideal for establishing growth. It is a perennial, warm-season grass that can be grown in the southern regions of the US. One of the best characteristics of Bahia grass is that it can grow with extraordinarily little maintenance, even in infertile soils such as sand. However, the major drawback to this grass is that it does not spread out as it grows in the same nature that other species do.
  • Bahiagrass needs a more acidic pH level than other grass species. Ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 should be sufficient. You may also need to watch for weed growth during the initial establishment as the roots can become overwhelmed by those of the competing weeds. Establish cutting heights to five inches for the first month to encourage healthy spread. After this, you can trim Bahiagrass shorter with less frequent mowing. You won’t have to worry about shady spots as much as you do with Bermuda grass. Still, you will want to ensure there is full sunlight when possible. Find an in-depth overview of Bahiagrass here.
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2. Bentgrass

Bentgrass in Sandy Soil
  • Bentrgrass is a cool-season perennial grass that grows very well in sand soil. You can find this grass grows well in soil that is primarily sand, like on beaches. It is commonly grown in the southern states, though it also fares well in northern states that experience high humidity with their cool temperatures. The shallow root systems of bentgrass allow it fast growth in well-aerated soils. It also favors soils with an acidic pH level of 5 to 6.5. These factors make growth in sand ideal.
  • Bentgrass is known to be an aggressive species. It invasively spreads out without much encouragement needed. It matures with a heavy thatch. This makes it an excellent choice for turfgrass. Trimming this grass short can curb any problems you may face in your bentgrass taking over unwanted areas. You will have to fertilize this species of grass once per year to encourage healthy growth. One major downfall of bentgrass is that it is extremely vulnerable to diseases and insects. Providing the proper remedies for these issues is imperative. While it won’t grow in shade, bentgrass does not do well in drought. Water regularly. You can read more about bentgrass here.

3. Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass in Sand Soil
  • A Bermuda grass lawn grows best in southern regions of the US, as it is a warm-season turfgrass. There are several cultivators that can withstand cooler climates in addition to drought periods. It is one of the most well-known species of grasses for having thick growth. It is considered an invasive type of grass. You will need to ensure it is not covered by large areas of shade, as it needs full sunlight for at least four hours per day to survive. It needs watering regularly but will do well in soils with extensive drainages, like sand. The levels in pH can range from 5.8 to 7.0, making Bermuda grass a great choice for many locations.
  • The warmer months of Spring and Summer will provide Bermuda grass its optimal growth. Its deep root system allows it to grow in a variety of soils, both sand, and clay. It is chosen as a turfgrass for sporting fields for its high resistance to damage from foot traffic. It does require a regular fertilizer regimen. Read our article on the top ten fertilizers for Bermuda grass.
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4. Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue Grass Grown in Sand
  • The cultivator “Creeping Red Fescue” is one of the best kinds of grass to grow in sandy soil. It grows slowly, so it doesn’t need much as far as tending. The root systems grow deep, making it ideal for areas with fast-draining soils, like sand. Still, it will grow in various conditions. This includes everywhere from meadows to coastlines or areas where there is vast pebble and rock coverage. The best soil pH levels for optimal growth range from 5.5 to 7. This substantial range helps the tall fescue survive many different threats.
  • This turfgrass will grow year-round but has quick spurts in growth during late spring and early fall. Tall fescue is a cool-season grass that is considered perennial. Another benefit to this adaptable grass species is that it doesn’t require long periods of sunlight. It can get by with as little as four hours of direct sunlight. To properly maintain tall fescue grass, you should mow it to a height between two and three inches determined by the season. You will need to fertilize it once to twice per year. You can find more information on the proper care of tall fescue grass in the Tall Fescue Maintenance Calendar provided by Clemson Cooperative Extension.

5. Zoysia Grass

Zoysia Grass on the Beach
  • A zoysia grass lawn has a deep root system that makes it an excellent choice in grass that grows in sand. As the sand soil drains through to the layers below, the zoysia grass’s roots can absorb nutrients for proper growth at better rates than those grasses with shallow root systems. You can increase the rate of this slow-maturing grass by feeding it with proper fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen. The pH levels for optimal growth in zoysia grasses range from 6.0 to 6.5. While sand soils are a great place for zoysia grass, some cultivators are susceptible to nematodes. These pests are common in the sand.
  • You won’t want to plant zoysia grass in shaded areas, as it needs full sunlight for proper growth. It is a warm-season species that are considered perennial. While it grows best in the southern regions of the US, you will find some cultivators that do well in the transition zone. Mowing heights range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches during different times of the year. Using a sharp mower blade is imperative to prevent damaging the blades. Preventing weeds with pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides is also recommended to achieve a healthy lawn of zoysia grass.
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Tips on Care for Grass that Grows in Sand

There’s more to growing in grass in sand than just picking out the right kind. You’ll need to carefully follow some basic instructions to help start and maintain your lawn properly. While you can use these tips for growing any kind of grass in sand, you’ll also need to consider each species’ differed needs to get the best results. To grow grass in sand soil, you’ll need to:

  • Free the lawn of any unwanted items, both big and small. You don’t want sticks and large rocks impeding the growth of your new grass.
  • Loosen the top layers of soil by tilling. You’ll want to mix the top four inches with a nutrient-rich compost.
  • Use a good fertilizer high in phosphorus. Be sure to mix it in with your top section of soil and compost.
  • Following packaging instructions for your selected species, distributed the grass seed.
  • Use local soil to cover the seeds.
  • Water immediately after planting seeds and frequently thereafter. You’ll want to continue your watering cycles according to your selected species’ needs.

Summary

Even though it may be hard to find a grass that grows in sand, there are five great choices that will do substantially better in this well-draining soil. Choose from Bahiagrass, bentgrass, Bermuda grass, tall fescue, or zoysia to have a lawn full of grass coverage.