What Grass Grows in Sand? 5 Types for Sandy Soil + Beaches

Not every grass species thrives well in sandy soil. If you live in areas with sandy soils such as those close to the beaches of Miami, you’ll need to plant grass seed that grows and thrives in the sand. But what is the best grass for sandy soil?

The best grass varieties that grow on sandy soils include tall fescue, zoysia, Bermuda grass, bentgrass, and bahiagrass. Most of these turfgrasses form deep roots that help them absorb water and nutrients effectively in quick-draining sandy soils. You can use their grass seed to establish a lawn near beaches.

Can grass grow in sand?

Any type of grass can grow in sand provided there are water and some amount of fertilizer in the loose soil. After germination, some varieties of grass can struggle to grow and spread at a rate that’s expected.

The problem with sandy soil is that it drains so fast and may not hold nutrients and moisture for long. That is why I highly recommend that you improve the soil quality before establishing your lawn in areas with sandy soil.

Grass Types that Grow in Sand

Grass that grows in sand-soil and beaches

There are some varieties of grass seed that can grow in sandy soil. Let’s have a look at these and what you’ll need to do to establish a great lawn.

Here are 5 grass types you can grow in sandy soil:


1. Tall Fescue

Grass typePerennial, cool-season grass
Sunlight requirementAt least 4 hours of direct sunlight.
Soil typeWell draining soils
Soil pH5.5 to 7
Peak seasonFall and spring

Creeping Red Fescue grows best in the sand, which is well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 8.0. It is highly adaptive to different soil types including sands, gravels, pebble beaches and can grow well along sea coasts and even meadows.

Red fescue is a slow-growing grass type, meaning it is low-maintenance turfgrass. However, its peak seasons of rapid growth are spring and late summer.


2. Bentgrass

Grass typePerennial, cool-season grass
Sunlight requirementFull sunlight exposure
Soil typeWell-drained soil
Soil pHAcidic 5 to 6.5

Bentgrass is common for Southern lawns and prefers well-aerated soils, This means that is one of the best grasses that grow in sand and places with beaches. You can easily establish a bentgrass turf with a highly permeable mixture of sand and organic matter.

You can grow a bentgrass lawn in the northeastern regions of the United States where there are cool and humid environments.


3. Zoysia

Grass typePerennial, warm-season grass
Sunlight requirementFull sunlight exposure
Soil typeSoil with good drainage
Soil pHSlightly acidic 6.0 to 6.5

Zoysia grows well in sandy soils and is categorized for the USDA plant hardiness zones 6 to 9. Zoysia grass seed is great for sand soil and yards near the beach because it develops deep roots that help it absorb nutrients and water in fast-draining soil types.

Apart from the deep roots, it is well adapted to drought and can grow well with very little water requirements. For this reason, you can grow it in areas that drain water really fast.

In terms of growth rate, zoysia grass develops fairly slower than other turfgrasses such as St. Augustine but will grow quickly when well fed with a 5-10-5 NPK or other fertilizer with high nitrogen and phosphorus for root development.

Pro tip: If you decide to establish a lawn in sandy soil, do not use the Meyer variety of zoysia grass. Also called “Z-52”, it is highly susceptible to nematodes. Nematode infestation is very common in sandy soils.


4. Bermuda grass

Grass-typePerennial, warm-season grass
Sunlight requirementAt least 4 hours of direct sunlight.
Soil typeClay, loam, sand soil (well-adapted)
Soil pH5.8 to 7.0
Peak seasonSpring through Summer

Bermuda grass can grow in sand and spread fairly fast because it thrives really well in areas that have great drainage. If you’re establishing a lawn near the beach, Bermuda grass seed is one of the options you should consider.

But, can Bermuda grass grow in sand and shade?

While it can thrive in loose sandy soil, Bermuda grass may not do well in shaded areas. It requires full sunlight exposure for the most part of the day. You may want to trim trees around your yard to reduce canopy and shade before establishing a bermudagrass turf.

The two varieties of Bermuda grass that can tolerate drought well as well as tough cold conditions are Riviera Bermuda and Yukon. These two cultivars of Bermuda grass show slow-to-dormancy characteristics and will do well in the transition zones.

Note that Bermuda grass can also grow well in other soil types including clay soil. This is usually attributed to its deep rhizomes and root system that enable the grass to obtain nutrients and water with ease.

It also spreads really fast to form a carpet-like coverage, which can help it prevent loss of moisture in the highly aerated sand soils.


5. Bahia Grass

Grass typePerennial, warm-season grass
Sunlight requirementPrefers full sun
Soil typeLight, well-drained soil
Soil pHSlightly acidic 5.5 to 6.5

Bahia is also a great grass that grows in the sand even though it is usually not my first choice for lawn establishment. It is well-adapted to sandy areas such as beaches because of it’s deep root system.

This grass type has outstanding drought and heat tolerance. You can establish a lawn along the coastal regions with Bahia grass seed, which will require less water to grow as would many other grass types.

Bahiagrass sustains much better than other grasses in infertile, sandy soils, meaning that it is a low-maintenance turfgrass. This is due to its deep root system. That is why it is common in the Southeast lawns with sandy soils.

However, it does not fill-in so well so if you’re looking to establish a thick, carpet-like lawn on sandy soil, you might want to choose another grass type and not Bahia.


How to Grow Grass in Sand

When establishing a lawn in sandy soils, preparation is key to the successful germination of the grass seed as well as growth and coverage. Sandy soil drains really fast yet grass seed needs plenty of moisture to germinate.

Here’s how to grow grass in sand successfully:

  1. Clear the yard to remove any debris, sticks and large pebbles.
  2. Till the upper 4 inches of soil and mix with compost for increase nutrients and water retention.
  3. Put down a good starter fertilizer for lawns (preferably a fertilizer with high phosphorus in content).
  4. Mix the fertilizer with the top sandy soil and compost properly.
  5. Spread grass seed that grows on sandy soil following the label directions.
  6. Cover the grass seed with 1/8 inch of local soil by running the back of your garden rake over the yard.
  7. Water the grass seed adequately on a daily basis to ensure proper germination.

Be careful not to over-water your lawn. If you do, you’ll easily wash away the grass seed and end up with a poor germination rate.

Keep in mind that since sand soil is well-draining, it does not retain water and nutrients much. You may need to do a little more in terms of feeding your lawn established in sandy areas in Florida, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Texas, North Caroline, and South Carolina, etc.

References

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