Growing grass in sandy soil near the Chesapeake Bay
I have an existing lawn at a house I just purchased, and it's obvious that the lawn struggles in the sandy soil close of the Chesapeake Bay. What grass types and nutrients should I be looking to make the lawn more sustainable and consistent with local soils? By the way, the lot has lots of shade.
Anne Arundel County Maryland
Your last line, "By the way, the lot has lots of shade" may be a part of your problem.
The best type of grass for our area is Turf-type tall fescue, which needs full sun to do well. Fine fescues do better in somewhat shady areas. They are not as robust and don't do as well with lots of foot traffic. A shade mix of fine and turf-type fescues may be a better choice.
If there are areas that are heavy shade with lots of competition from tree roots, those areas may be better served mulched or planted in ground covers.
The very first thing we suggest is having a soil test done. It's not difficult or expensive, and it will give you the specifics on what nutrients your soil may need- tell them this is a lawn area. Being within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it is important to only fertilize (if at all) with the amounts recommended by a professional soil test.
Here is our page on soil testing: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing, which has a video about how to take a sample, and a link to the labs you can send to for a professional analysis.
Here is our lawn page: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/plants/lawns with many important links.
Depending on the make-up of your lawn, you may decide you need a complete lawn renovation. The best time to do this is late summer into fall.
Every step and info you need is contained within the link to HG102: Lawn Establishment, Renovation and Overseeding.