SANDY SOIL AND GRASS - Knowledgebase Question

FORT MYERS BEACH, FL (Zone 9B)
Question by FREIER
March 4, 2009
WHAT IS THE BEST GRASS SEED TO USE IN A SANDY SOIL AND HOW DO I NEED TO WATER IT TO GET IT TO GROW? IS THERE A SPECIFIC TIME WHEN GRASS SEED WILL START GROWING IN SOUTHERN FLORIDA? THANKS


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Answer from NGA
March 4, 2009

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Given adequate water and nutrients, Floratam St. Augustine grass will grow, even in pure sand. Amending the sandy soil can improve water and nutrient retention, providing the right ingredients are used in the right way. Thorough mixing is important to prevent the roots from sitting up in a wet zone. Canadian sphagnum is expensive, but is relatively more stable than other sources of organic matter. Avoid organic residues such as manure if they have not been composted properly.

St. Augustine grass has a fairly wide range of tolerance for pH values from below 5 to above 8; the grass might yellow from lack of available iron at the high end, and have other problems at the low end. The organic matter such as Canadian spaghnum, or even Florida peat, may help to bring these problems under control, by helping to hold the nutrients.

Bahia grass is another choice for your sandy soil. It thrives, given adequate water.

Some turf species (e.g., St. Augustinegrass) are limited to vegetative propagation by sod, sprigs, or plugs because seed is not available or does not germinate true-to-type. Other turf species produce seed in sufficient quantity and trueness-to-type to allow establishment by seed (e.g., bahiagrass, centipedegrass, carpetgrass, and common bermudagrass). A quality lawn can be established by either method if the site is properly prepared and maintained.

April is the target month for seeding a new lawn or installing sod.

Best wishes with your new lawn!

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