With so many promises on the front of grass seed products on garden centre shelves, finding the right grass seed for your soil type can be troublesome. However, a grass mixes’ ability to grow in different soil types all comes down to the grass seed in it.
Some grass seed types are better at growing in some conditions than others, and if you pick the right ones, you can create a lawn that is not only suitable for your soil type – but will absolutely thrive in it!
Grass seed for heavy clay soils
Heavy clay soils are usually full of nutrients, which is of course an advantage, but they can be a nightmare to work over due to the amount of ‘clumping’ together that the soil does. This is also what causes the soil to be nutrient-laden, as the nutrients stick to the soil.
You will most likely have clay soils if:
When in your hand, you can mould your soil almost like plasticine
The soil is clumped together and difficult to break up
In warmer and dry weather, the soil becomes compacted and appears cracked
In cold and wet weather, the soil may flood on the surface and you may sink into it when walking on it
Best grass seed for heavy clay soils
Our mix – IMPRESS: Clay Master contains the very best grass seed for heavy clay soils. So, what’s in the mix, and what does it do? This mix is mainly made up of perennial ryegrass, renowned for its hardwearing ability, it is definitely up there with some of the toughest of grasses and is the ultimate ‘all rounder’ grass seed – if perennial ryegrass can’t grow in problematic soils, then there really is a problem! It also grows incredibly fast, so if a week or so after sowing you see a sheen of green grass come up – its probably your perennial ryegrass! There is also a high content of Tall Fescue in the mix. Fescues are typically finer leafed and tall fescue as its name suggests, can deep root to up to 2-3ft deep, which is needed for heavy clay soils that are difficult to penetrate. Last but not least this mix contains 5% Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass which is drought tolerant and can also recover well after traffic, needed for heavy clay soils that can be easily compacted. Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass is also sometimes called Kentucky Blue Grass and is well known for being the ideal seed for any lawn.
Grass seed for sandy soils
At first glance, sandy soils can appear to be the ideal soil, however they can present a few challenges that make it difficult for some grass seed varieties to grow in. Sandy soils are typically free draining and low in nutrients – and are almost the opposite of clay soils.
You will most likely have sandy soils if:
When in your hand, your soil can run freely through your hands – like sand! It is impossible to mould and it does not stick together
As the soils are free draining, you may find that they get extremely dry and that previous grass growing endeavours may have failed due to the low nutrients in the soil
Best grass seed for sandy soils
Sandy soils will always thrive with a 100% fescue mix which is what we created in our THRIVE: Sandy Soils – why? Well fescues are extremely drought tolerant, and sandy soils are extremely drought prone! Alongside this, fescues grow well in shallow conditions, are fine and will tolerate close mowing. So, if you want to get those statement stripes on your sandy soils, our mix is the best option for you. Chewings Fescue, Sheeps Fescue and Strong Creeping Red Fescue each have their own individual attributes that make them ideal for sandy soils. Chewings Fescue is inherently drought tolerant, Sheeps Fescue survives and thrives in low nutrient soils and Strong Creeping Red Fescue is highly tolerant of most adverse soil conditions.
Grass seed for normal / loam type soil
Loam type soil is ideal for sowing, in its composition it is made up of some sand, some clay and silt which is a mixture of the two. It benefits from the positive properties of both, and is free draining and nutrient filled. Any type of grass seed will grow in these conditions, so the next step is to consider what you need for your lawn. It’s up to you whether you want a hardwearing, fast growing family lawn or an ornamental one. You may also want to consider the amount of shade in your lawn and find a grass mix that will suit your dappled or permanent shade.
Can I turn my clay / sandy soils into loam type soils?
A lot of people will add top soil to improve their soil quality – but over time this will not dramatically change the makeup of the soil. If you wish to change your soil make up it will take a lot of time, care, attention and adjustment and may prove to be more hassle than its worth. Otherwise, you can accept your soils for who they are and sow the correct and best grass mix for them!
If you’re curious about grass seeds and the characteristics of some of the species that are in our mixtures, we’ve broke it down in our grass seed guide.