Growing Bahiagrass from seed in sandy soil

algreen(z10FL)May 25, 2011

I live in central Florida. I recently cleared my backyard and am planning to grow bahiagrass from seed. I recently purchased one 50lb bag of brown top millet and one 50lb bag of bahiagrass seed along with two 25lb bags of 10:10:10 fertilizer. The clerk at the feed and seed store suggested I use equal parts of millet with bahia seed and equal parts fertilizer and till them into my sandy soil. The clerk suggested that I spread the seed evenly over my back yard and water with a sprinkler several times a day. My question is, if I do this, will I be wasting my time trying to grow grass in sandy soil, or should I use some sort of soil amendment that would hold water better then the currently completely sandy soil? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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Well I am no expert on paspalum aka Bahia grass, but I am pretty certain it is a niche grass that does best in very sandy soils, and tolerates very high salt levels. That is why it is used so much on coast line property. Due to its dense turf, deep roots, extensive rhizomes and stolons makes it an excellent for soil erosion control in very sandy soils.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 11:35PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Thanks weed, I did not know that bahia was paspalum. There are several grasses which grow very nicely on pure sand. You do have to water, mow, and feed them properly if you want to keep weeds out.

Before you open your bag of seed, read this page all the way through and decide if you still want bahia. As you probably know, bermuda and St Augustine are THE grasses of choice for central Florida. You will be bucking the trend. We have sensational St Augustine lawns on the Texas coast growing in pure beach sand. I'm afraid that any savings you achieve from buying cheap seed might be lost to repeated lawn mower maintenance from mowing this tough pasture grass.

I choked when the guy told you to till the seed in. You don't bury grass seed to get it started. Grass seed, especially pasture grass seed, always must be at the top surface to sprout.

Possibly the hardest part of this project will be getting the sand level. If you water the sand will it firm up so you can walk on it without leaving deep footprints? If so then I would suggest leveling the sand by dragging a piece of chain link fence behind you. It might need something to weigh it down but in sand it might not. Drag that around by a rope until you have it the way you want it (NO LOW SPOTS IN THE MIDDLE - it should crown high in the middle). Then water it from outside the leveled area to firm it up. Then scatter the seed/millet (why millet?). Then it would be good to roll the seed into the ground but I'm afraid of changing the profile of your leveled surface. Somehow you need to push the seed into the top surface of the sand without pushing the sand around. On more firm surfaces they use a roller. If the area is small enough you could just walk all over it. That is plenty good enough. Then keep the seed moist all day long for the next several weeks. In most places that means watering 3x per day for 10 minutes, but again, in your sand it might mean watering 5x per day. It depends on humidity, wind, and sunlight/shade. When you think you have 80% of the seed sprouted, start to back off on the frequency of watering but increase the time. Eventually it would be good to be watering once per week for however long it takes to keep the grass alive for a full week. Until you get good roots established, you might need to water 2x or 3x per week. That would be for the rest of this growing season. Then back off to monthly watering in the cooler months.

As for fertilizer, I would not apply any until you are mowing the grass.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Thanks weed, I did not know that bahia was paspalum

Try this link for definition:

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 2:12PM
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botanicalbill(9b SWFlorida)

I have a vacant lot next to me. My dogs run it and have created some paths. The paths are bare sugar sand (100% pure white sand) so I bought a bag of bahia and planted it about a month and a half ago. Bahia likes to be burried a bit deeper than most grass seed, 1/4 to 1/2 inch down. This might be why the guy told you to till it into your yard (an over kill either way).
Its been raining a few days a week again for the past few weeks (florida rainy season, 1-5 inches each day in 1 hour). (Im about 2 hours south of you). I walked to the paths yesterday and I notice that I have seedlings coming up all over.

I was going to do this a year ago at the end of July. The guy at the feed and seed shop told me that if you are going to plant bahia, you need to have it planted before summer starts (end of June) at the latest. Thats why I held off till this year so I could do it correct. He said you should have it planted before the rains start, thats why I planted that long ago.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 1:59AM
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