If you happen to live near the beach, whether its the ocean or a lake, sand is likely to be found. Growing any type of plant in sand is extremely challenging because sand does not store any nutrients as they are rocks.
However, this does not mean grass will never grow through sandy areas. Grass can grow in sand, there are sand-tolerant grasses that will grow in such environments and these locations will have some sort of nutrients available for the grass to be able to grow.
Lets get into some more details about grass and sand!
Will Grass Grow Through Sand?
Grass grows best in nutrient-rich soil that can maintain the right amount of moisture while also draining correctly to prevent a drowning lawn. This allows the soil to retain the essential nutrients for plants to thrive. There are many different types of soil, some are better than others for plant growth.
The issue with grass growing in sand is that sand does not hold moisture, it drains it. Sand can’t retain the nutrients as it washes away.
Grass can certainly grow through sand, but it rarely grows in pure sand as it will need some sort of nutrient base.
Lets look at a beach, where the water meets the land. The beach area, the foreshore and backshore, will almost never have grass growing on it. There is no soil whatsoever, its all sand that holds no nutrients. Plus, the constant moving water doesn’t help any grass grow either.
Moving inland a little bit we reach the dunes, these are the areas we will begin to see grass growth in sand. These grasses are known as beachgrasses and they grow in sand with little to no soil. They actually grow best in shifting sand locations due to high winds.
Beachgrass is not exactly like grass found in our lawns, its not grass we mow and its not often grass we go out to plant, however planting it can be done if you live on the water.
Turfgrasses are what we grow for our lawns, we plant it by seed or just unroll some sods on our property. But will they grow through sand?
Does Turfgrass Grow Through Sand?
Turfgrasses require much more nutrients that sand on its own does not offer. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t grow grass near sand or in sandy areas, it just means there will likely need some soil amendments.
The most important thing required when trying to grow grass in a sandy area is to improve the soil’s moisture retention by adding in soil and organic matter. Mixing such material into the sandy area improves the overall growing conditions for the grass. Mixing it into the ground about 5 to 8 inches deep will ensure a healthier soil for growing.
Along with a proper sandy soil base, a fertilizer is recommended to keep up with the required nutrients the sandy area just does not offer.
Not all grass types will thrive in sandy soil. Choosing the best grasses for these conditions is required for growth.
What Turfgrasses Grow Best in Sandy Soil?
Zoysia, tall fescue, bentgrass, Bermuda grass, as well as bahiagrass are the most common grasses that typically thrive on sandy soils. The majority of these turfgrasses have strong roots that aid in water and nutrient absorption. Their grass seed may be used to develop a lawn near the seaside.
Will Grass Grow Through Your Sandbox?
Grass can potentially grow in a sandbox located in your yard. Since most of us have regular lawns and we just throw sand in a designated area over our lawn we are likely to see growing through eventually.
This happens because there is still nutrient rich soil under the sand, along with sunlight and water, the grass can make its way to the surface. It’s even more likely if the sand is only a thin layer as it is easier for the grass to come through.
Since grass is used as a topdressing sometimes it makes sense how a small sandbox can end up seeing grass and weeds coming through the surface.
To prevent grass from growing up through the sandbox here is what you should do:
- Kill the grass first, smother it using a tarp or cardboard.
- Create a barrier using landscaping fabric, 2 layers works best for durability (plastic or tarps will just flood with rain)
- Build the sandbox exterior
- fill up the sandbox
The main reason people see grass is just poor preparation and execution of the build.
Will Grass Grow Through Paver Sand?
Yes, grass can certainly grow through pavers and their sand, especially if the pavers were incorrectly installed. I built my own concrete paver patio and there are certain precautions you need to take to prevent grass and weed growth.
Building the paver patio you need to make sure there is proper drainage, there must be a slope to ensure water flows away instead of sitting on the patio. Damp areas may help grass grow, it certainly will help with weed growth.
You can’t just place pavers on your lawn, you need to dig a flat surface, remove grass and weeds, and add your base layers. I started with crushed stone and used a tamper to create a compact surface. A compact surface of gravel and crushed stone is a difficult place for grass to grow.
After crushed stone I used masonry sand, this is what you place the pavers on. This sand creates a compact and impact resistant surface, small sand particles make the pavers sit evenly and they are less likely to crack. Along with that, it creates another barrier that helps protect against grass and weed growth.
The final and most important step to prevent grass growth between pavers is to use the best possible bonding sand to fill in the cracks. Bonding sand is placed in the cracks, then you water it and it hardens. Ensuring the bonding sand fills the cracks successfully you should have no grass growing through it.
Regular sweeping and cleaning will help prevent grass and other weeds from growing on top of your pavers.
Can Sand Be Used as a Top Dressing?
The application of a light coating of sand on a golf course landscape is a typical procedure for many gorgeous and respected golf courses. This is known as top dressing – a common element of golf course care to keep thatch away. Keep in mind, golf courses are built on sand soils, they grow grass that thrive in such conditions.
Top dressing using sand has become a popular trick for many lawn-homeowner to help their lawn look beautiful. It is not a solution for all lawns though, sometimes soil topdressing is a better option that doesn’t impact the nutrients overtime.
Sand can actually cause more damage than good according to the University of Florida, they state that “Topdressing your lawn with sand on a regular basis is not a recommended practice”.
Sand as a top dressing is known to some as a way to help with extreme thatch build-up, improve the soils structure, and improve your lawns drainage. Sand doesn’t breakdown like a compost/soil top dressing, sand can fill up aeration holes, and help water get down into the soil, which is supposed to help the grass to get more nutrients.
However, sand as a top dressing should be a method that must be used with care and proper execution. It should not ne required regularly or you risk removing too much soil nutrients in your yard.
Does Sand Kill Grass?
Sand does not kill grass, it can be good for grass in certain scenarios. Sand is known to help improve soil drainage to improve the overall nutrients of the soil. If soil is too compact and water can’t pass through it, it will only cause issues for grass growth.
However, too much sand can cause a nutrient deficiency in a lawn causing your grass to slowly die.
Finding a happy medium is required when using sand on your lawn. There are alternative options to using sand on grass to improve soil drainage that may be more beneficial for nutrients.
What is Lawn Sand?
Lawn sand is sand, it is made up of ammonium sulphate and ferrous sulfate. The primary role of lawn sand is to eliminate moss and to boost the grass’s resistance to disease by functioning as a nitrogen fertilizer.
It is very possible for grass to grow in sand. From the beach dunes to a sandbox in your backyard, there are many times you may see grass growing through sand. Although sand has no nutrients itself, mixed with the right organic materials it can grow grass exceptionally well. Sandy soil can grow a good variety of turf grasses they can make your lawn look super green and lush.
If you want your sand grass free, smothering the underlying grass and adding a good landscaping fabric barrier is all you need!
Overall, sand and grass do go together more than you would imagine. If you have any questions please head to the comments section below!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.