Sandy soils pose particular problems for growing grass seed. These soils are usually located in Southern areas where drought occurs frequently or in coastal areas that require plants that are salt-tolerant. Some types of grass that can grow in these conditions do not grow well from seed, requiring plugs or sprigs instead. To ensure success when planting grass seed in sand, choose types that can weather these unique conditions.
Growing in Sandy Soil
Soils that consist of a great percentage of sand do not make a good growing medium for most types of grass. Sand is poor in nutrient quality and does not retain water well. It can leach fertilizer out of the ground easily. You must also water plants in sandy soil more frequently. The sand may also be close to bodies of saltwater and salty air, both of which can leach into the soil creating an inhospitable growing environment for many types of plants. The best option for growing grass in soil with large amounts of sand would be to add clean topsoil or organic matter. If this is not feasible, then homeowners must work with what they have and choose grass seed types that can grow in sandy conditions.
Centipede grass is a type of turf grass native to Southeast Asia and China. It is a coarse-textured perennial variety that requires little maintenance. It grows by stolons that creep along the surface of the ground like a centipede, hence the name. The seedbed must be carefully prepared, raked and pulverized. Seeds are mixed with sand and broadcast at a rate of about 1/3 lb. per 1,000 square feet of area, then watered to be kept moist but not wet for 14 to 21 days. Irrigation to prevent severe wilting, regular mowing and annual fertilization are all that is required to maintain the grass.
Bunch grass is a name given to several kinds of perennial native grass species that grow in discrete clumps or “bunches.” Achnatherum, Dasyochloa and Pleauraphis spp. are a few of the bunch grass types found in the Western United States, such as around Las Vegas, Nevada. These grasses have deep roots that can find moisture within the soil where other, sod-type grasses would dry out and die. Seeds are sown in the area and kept moist until germination occurs. This type of grass will turn brown during the hot summer months.
Seashore paspalum is a type of grass that was once only used for golf courses in salty environments but has since become more popular for residential properties. It has a coarse, dense texture that can tolerate saline and sandy conditions. It spreads by stolons that creep along the ground. Seedbeds must be kept moist until germination commences, within 10 to17 days. To maintain turf, irrigate deeply in sandy soil, which generally does not hold water well. Avoid shallow watering.
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