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How to Grow Grass in Sand or Gravel Conditions

By Laura Wallace Henderson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Improve sandy soils for healthy lawns.

Grasses fulfill a number of needs. They provide soft and inviting groundcovers for pets and people and guard against erosion along riverbanks and roadways. Although most types of lawn grasses require well-drained soils to flourish and reproduce, a few varieties tolerate sandy and gravely soils. Selecting the correct type of grass and using the proper planting methods enables homeowners with sandy soils to enjoy an expanse of green grass in their landscapes. Cover your poor soil with attractive lawn grass.

Prepare your sandy soil for your new grass. Get rid of any existing vegetation by pulling the entire plant out of the soil. Remove the roots system to avoid the return of weeds and other plants. Toss out any large rocks and debris from your site. Loosen the soil by turning it with a garden shovel or going over it with a Rototiller.

Amend your existing soil with organic matter. Sandy and rocky soils lose moisture very quickly. Add compost from a compost heap or purchase commercial compost to help your soil retain water. Incorporate equal amounts of organic matter with existing topsoil. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over your gravel soil. Turn over the top 2 inches of existing soil, mixing it with the layer of compost to form a 4-inch layer of amended soil. Smooth the area with a rake to form an even surface.

Purchase a type of grass sod that tolerates sandy, rocky soils. Look for varieties like tall fescue and sheep fescue to plant in gravelly sites.

Lay your grass sod over your prepared soil. Quickly establish lawns in sandy soils by planting sod, rather than seed. Plant your sod when it arrives to avoid damaged patches of grass. Start at one side of your lawn and lay the sections against one another to form a carpet of green. Work your way to the opposite side, avoiding gaps between sections of sod. Press your new sod against the soil with a sod roller. Rent one of these from your local rental agency and run it back and forth over your lawn.

Water the grass in your sandy site regularly to provide continual moisture near the roots. Keep your grass healthy by applying water about once a week during periods of minimal rainfall. Check the soil near the roots by inserting a finger into the ground. Moisture near the roots indicates adequate amounts of water.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Sod
  • Sod roller
  • Water

About the Author


Laura Wallace Henderson, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She has served as the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." She continues to empower and encourage women everywhere by promoting health, career growth and business management skills.