Home Garden

Grass That Will Grow in the Sand

Several species of native grasses readily grow in sandy soils and can quickly turn a bare eyesore in your landscape into a productive ecosystem full of life. Many native and ornamental grasses have adapted to thrive in sandy soils with few nutrients. Like turf grasses for home lawns, native and ornamental grasses are divided into warm and cool season grasses, and the best time for planting as well as the specific husbandry requirements vary from species to species.
  1. Sand Bluestem

    • Sand bluestem grass (Andropogon hallii) is a warm season perennial grass that grows exclusively in sandy soils. Native to the Midwestern United States, sand bluestem reaches a mature height of 8 to 12 inches but will develop large seed heads on stalks that can grow up to 8 feet tall, according to Montana State University. The thin, creeping rhizomatic root system is highly productive in sandy soils, and bluestem grass will quickly establish a dense, healthy stand of grass on your property. Sand bluestem grows best in dry locations where annual rainfall is less than 30 inches.

    Marsh Grass

    • Marsh grass (Spartina bakeri) is most commonly found growing in sandy soils along the shore of aquatic ecosystems such as ponds, rivers and freshwater marshes. However, marsh grass makes an excellent accent plant and will readily grow in sandy soils that remain moist, according to the University of Florida. Marsh grass grows best when planted in clumps 3 to 4 feet apart and will quickly spread and form a dense thicket of tall grass. Marsh grass develops tall blades of grass 3 to 4 feet tall that spread from the base and create a fountain structure.

    Indian Ricegrass

    • Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides) is a cool season perennial grass and is the state grass of Utah. Native to the rangelands of the western United States, Indian ricegrass grows in dense bunches with blades growing 12 to 32 inches tall. The grasses grow exclusively on sandy or rocky soils and do not tolerate poor drainage. The seeds are high in protein and are a staple food for many animals.


    • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a tall warm season grass that is commonly planted for soil conservation projects. Switchgrass readily grows on sand in a number of habitats, including forests, rangelands, brackish marshes and coastal dunes. Switchgrass provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, and the seeds are a food source for game birds. Switch grass blades are 2 to 3 feet tall, but the seed pod develops on a tall stalk that grows between 3 and 8 feet tall and remains extended throughout the winter. Switchgrass will quickly spread to cover sandy areas on your property but may require regular trimming once established to contain the grass on your property.