sod planted on sand - advice please

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by GreenWestCoast, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. GreenWestCoast

    GreenWestCoast LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    We have a client in a brand new place; her sod seems to be planted right on a sand base. It's somewhat established with some patchy areas.

    Question: would topsoil & overseeding be a reasonable way to amend it, or is it destined to fail? What would you do?

    Thanks for any feedback.

    I have never seen sod planted right on sand!
  2. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,975

    irrigate and fertilize. You have it a lot easier than someone with grass thrown on clay, or adobe. High end golf and sports turf is on sand. You can apply a light topdressing of clean, finely screened organic matter. But I would be more freaked out about grass growing on poorly drained mud.
  3. ncpete

    ncpete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 288


    that is exactly what I have in North Carolina. It took some substantial time for the grass to establish well, in fact, the builders didn't even sod the back yard, it was seeded with rye - with a planned sale date of mid winter. I think it took 4-5 years before I could mow the back yard without rutting in the sand with my 19" mower which was a housewarming gift from my folks - I think it was the biggest mower that UPS would take for shipping 18 years at UPS.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I would topdress with compost, mulch mow high, and irrigate 2 or 3 times per week depending on the heat... syringing in the middle of the day, everyday if necessary... but being that far north there shouldn't be excessive pressure on it right now...
    Just get those roots to grow deep between now and next Summer's Heat wave...

    We have lots of sandy location here in Centro Wisco and generations of lawns have been successfully maintained w/out irrigation, TGCL, Scotts 'cides, or short weekly mowings... :)
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Yes, and lots of it.

    Sand tends to lack Organic matter, try to boost it as much as possible.

  6. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,975

    Sand allows grass roots to grow deep. Especially if the correct height of cut for the type of grass is observed. The rare lawn that I deal with that is grown on sand uncontaminated by clay is not hard to manage at all. BTW, I am one of the few people in a state where lawn people bag every last clipping lets it go back into the lawn. In sand, grass clippings build up much needed organic matter. No irrigation is fine and good provided that close to an inch of rain falls per week of growing season. Now, I would like to know how less than 20 inches of rain will work in a region with a 52 week growing season. What I have seen has not inspired me to yank out the irrigation system if one is installed or not put one in if there is none.
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    The one thing we are missing here is the type of grass the OP intends to use.

    If he's in British Columbia, I'm going out on a limb to say it will be a northern grass. Northern grasses don't like sand as much as southern grasses do. Irrigation would be a must in the dry parts of the summer to keep it from frying.

    But I do agree with the fact that grass can grow in the sand. Zoysia and Bermuda does extremely well. Just got done working on a beach project where the previous owner had installed zoysia. We had to rip out sections of it to install a barrier between the turf and the beach.

    Even in our drought the grass was still extremely green and lush, and the root system whent down 6" or more.

  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I disagree that northern grasses will fry in sandy soils... we have sandy soils here in CentroWisco and for generations we've had lawns and even pastures for cattle and hayfields of grass... our Junegrass is a cousin to the KBG and is has become the dominant wild grass in various locations...

    Where I do agree with you is if we engage in destructive cultural practices in trying to get the "Perfect" lawn before the grass is even established...
  9. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    You definitely do not want a layer of topsoil on top of sand. It would have been fine to till some into the sand before the lawn was established.

    It is not destined to fail. It is easier to put water on than to take it off. Experiment with your watering cycles, examining the soil (sand) profile at varying length sprinkling sets and different frequencies. Also do some reading about watering sand based turf. You will come up with a schedule that works without being excessive and can then adjust that for warmer and cooler weather, drier and wetter.

    How thick was the sod (take a look) and what was it grown on? If it was thick and on black-ish soil, you may already have a layer of the type I encouraged you to avoid. If so...not sure. Keep it damp and plan to do some aerating next year. You live in a relatively forgiving climate and should be ale to keep this lawn nice mid-Spring to Fall.
  10. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Natural grasses of course tend to to better.

    Just seems to me that most modern blends aren't designed to handle drought conditions in sand. But maybe, a good Fescue would do the trick.

    It can be done, I would just think it would take a few years of establishment and babysitting to get it to a sustainable state.


Share This Page