The soil has different natures and compositions. Soil with more than 35% sand in it is classified as sandy soil. Every type of soil has a particularly suitable plant species. Sandy soils are commonly termed as ‘light soils’ and are good for growing fruit trees. However, common grass types are not much compatible with them. In this article, we will discuss some grass species as the best grass for the sandy soil.
Characteristics of Sand Soil
The main features which make the sandy soil unsuitable for most of the grass types are mentioned below:
- The irregular and round sand particles make air pockets in the soil. The grass is a small-sized plant with small and feeble roots. These thin roots need thick or closely packed soil particles which can facilitate rooting. These air pockets make it difficult for the roots of the grass to penetrate and get stable in the soil.
- Sand decreases the fertility of the soil.
- Sandy soils can’t retain moisture, which is essential for the grass.
- Furthermore, the sand particles in the soil do not retain nutrients. Thus the necessary nutrients are not readily available for the grass.
Best Grass for Sandy Soil
Certain types of grass have strong and deeply penetrating roots. Thus, they become suitable for sandy soil. In this section, we will mention the grass species on the basis of growth climate i.e. Warm and Cool climates.
Popular grass types which can cope up with the challenges provided by the sandy soil in warm climates are mentioned below:
- Zoysia Grass.
- Bahia Grass.
- Bermuda Grass.
Zoysia is a diverse genus of grass. It has a characteristic hairy leaf surface. This is native to Southeast Asia particularly China and Japan. Zoysia is commonly found in Asia and Australia.
Features of Zoysia Grass:
- The roots of the grass have a deeply penetrating nature. This feature makes them one of the top choices in the list for best grass for sandy soil.
- Zoysia does not grow much tall as compared to other grass types. This also makes it suitable for sandy soil, as the tall grass types become unstable in this soil.
- Zoysia is lush green in color in its active stage. They turn active in spring earlier as compared to other grass types.
- The dormant form of Zoysia doesn’t look un-pleasant brown like other grass types.
- Zoysia species are slow-growing grass. But once developed, they are pretty resilient. They are widely admired for their tolerance towards water availability, temperature variations, sun exposure, diseases, and fungus.
- Ideally, they need full sun. However, they do great in partial shade as well.
- They are drought tolerant.
- Zoysia grass is not affected by the fertility of the soil.
- It is preferably used in turfs and lawns due to its lush and rich appearance.
Cultivars of Zoysia Grass:
A wide range of cultivars of Zoysia grass has been created.
(We can define cultivars as the plant varieties developed by experts following the techniques of selective breeding).
Zorro Zoysia and Amazoy Zoysia are two common cultivars.
Amazoy Zoysia is one of the oldest. The growth adaptability towards air spaces makes it a good option as grass for sandy soil.
Bahiagrass with its scientific name Paspalum notatum is native to Mexico and South America. It is a perennial grass species with tropical and subtropical growth habitats.
Features of Bahia grass:
- Bahiagrass has a fine and deep rooting system. This feature makes it suitable grass for sandy soil.
- Another important feature of grass for sandy soil is that Bahia grass is low growing. Thus it can easily become stable.
- They have typical V-shaped inflorescence and creeping growth habit.
- They are resistant to levels of water and fertilizer availability.
- It is a draught and shade tolerant grass type.
- One con of Bahia grass is that they are not much rich in color and density as compared to the Zoysia and Bermuda grass. Furthermore, it looks un-pleasant brown in its dormant stage in the winter. So these are not a preferable option for lawns specifically required to look good. Furthermore, people use this type as forage or in large fields where appearance is not much important.
Cultivars of Bahia grass:
Argentina, Pensacola, and Paraguay 22 are common varieties of Bahia grass.
Bermuda grass has its scientific name Cynodon dactylon. Common names of this grass are crabgrass, dog’s tooth grass, devil’s grass, and wiregrass. One interesting fact is that it is native to Africa and not Bermuda. However, it is common grass species in Bermuda.
Features of Bermuda grass:
- The most important feature is that it has extensive and deep roots that add it to the list of Best grass for sandy soil.
- Bermuda is a low growing and fine quality grass.
- It’s greatly adaptable to different levels of water availability. This grass can tolerate droughts and heavy rainfall as well.
- It is a rich growing grass with lush green color.
- It requires bright sun and is not adaptable to shade.
- They are preferable as a turfgrass in sports grounds. It also works as an easy growing green cover for preventing erosion.
Cultivars of Bermuda Grass:
Riveria, Lapaloma, and Yukon are popular cultivars of Bermuda. Princess 77 is a new high-quality certified type of common Bermuda grass.
All these types have some differences in appearance and nature but all are well suitable for the list of best grass for sandy soil.
Other options as best grass for sandy soil include;
- Centipede grass( Eremochloa ophiuroids)
- Carpet grass (Axonopus affinis) and
- St.Augutine grass (Stenotaphrum seconadatum).
Two popular species of cool climate grass for sandy soil are as under:
- Fescue Grass.
- Kentucky Bluegrass.
Fescuta or Fescue is a perennial grass with a cosmopolitan distribution. It is found in all continents except Antarctica. They are also suitable for the transition zone.
Features of Fescuta grass:
- Fescue is tall growing grass unlike all other grass types explained above. Despite being tall, they are still added to the options of best grass for sandy soil.
- This is an evergreen grass type.
- Fescuta grows pretty quick in shade. However, it is adaptive to shade as well.
- Different types of Fescue grass have their own uses. These uses include ornamental usage, usage as turfgrass, and as highly nutritious hay for animals.
Cultivars of Fescue Grass:
Fescue has a wide range of cultivars. More than 100 cultivars are currently present in markets. Each of these has its own specific features and uses.
Red Fescue is fast growing. Among the grasses of cold climate, it is the best grass for sandy soil. Tall Fescue and Hard Fescue are other common suitable cultivars.
Kentucky Blue Grass
Poa pratensis is a perennial grass species native to Europe, Asia, and the mountains of Algeria and Morocco. It has many common names like smooth meadow-grass or common meadow-grass. It is important to mention here, that Ketucky blue grass loves highly fertile soil. So, they are rarely suitable for sandy soil, unless regular fertilizer is added. Furthermore, adequate water supply should be available, especially in the summer.
Features of Kentucky Blue Grass:
- This is herbaceous, creeping, and tall growing grass. The average length is around 12 to 28 inches.
- It has a broad and blunt leaf structure that grows densely forming thick mats.
- This grass species prefer high humidity levels.
- Kentucky blue is highly drought tolerant.
- It grows in full to partial sun.
Growing Grass in Sandy Soil
First of all, you need to select a suitable grass type according to your requirement and growth zone. You can grow grass by bulbs or by seeds. It is important to follow a certain pattern in order to get rich and lush looking grass for your garden. In this section, we are describing some important steps for growing grass in sandy soil.
- Clean the area by removing all the debris, pebbles, and unwanted plants.
- Now use a spade or other suitable gardening tool to create narrow diggings. Each of them should about 8 inches deep.
- The next step in growing grass in sandy soil is the addition of organic matter in the upper 6 inches of the soil. You can use materials like compost, peat, or manure as organic fertilizers in this step.
- The benefit of this step will be the enhancement of fertility of the soil. As a result, the soil will easily hold moisture and nutrients for the grass.
- Fertilizers of lawn starting nature are easily available in the market. Add and mix some in the upper 4 inches of the soil. A suitable ratio is 10 pounds of fertilizer per 500 square feet of the growing area. 5-10-5 is a suitable fertilizer. You can also use rich fertilizer like 10-20-10 in 5 pounds for the same area.
- If you are using grass seeds, the instructions will be printed on the packing. Follow them and sow the seeds. Different grass species have their own suitable application rates. Experts recommend dividing the seeding rate by 2 and saw them in two sawing applications. Start with a vertical strip and follow up by a horizontal strip.
- Using a raker, mildly dust the seeds with about 1/16 inches of the soil.
- Take some mulch and spread on the growing area in low quantity. Peat moss or clean straw can work great as mulch. It should cover almost half of the soil surface.
- Now you are done with the planting of the seeds. Water the growing area twice or thrice a day. This is important to keep the sandy soil moist.
- 5to 30 days is the germination period of grass seeds depending upon the species and growing conditions. Seedlings will usually sprout in around 2 weeks. However, sprouting may take longer in cooler zones.
If you are using grass bulbs, you need to plant them in the soil around 6 inches deep. Make sure that the roots are fully planted in the soil. Now cover the pits properly without leaving any spaces to dry the roots. Shoots will start to develop in about a month showing you signs that the bulbs have well adopted the new place.
- It is important to avoid walking in the growing area until the grass gets established. 3 to 4 inches is the height of established grass.
- Always water in mild quantity. This will help you avoid sweeping away the seedlings or the newly planted bulbs.
Sand particles create air pockets in the soil decreasing its moisture and nutrient holding capacity. It is somewhat challenging for the majority of grass types to grow in sandy soil. However, there are certain grass species that are well adaptive to it.
The list of Best grass for sandy soil includes Zoysia, Bahia, Bermuda, and St.Augustine in warm climate zones. Cool zones include Fescue grass and Kentucky Bluegrass. Growing grass in sandy soil needs a typical set of gardening steps to achieve lush grass for the lawn.