Gardening isn’t just about soil because sand also plays a crucial role. Sand helps improve the look and structure of the soil, drainage, and aeration. It also aids in breaking up heavy clay soils in your garden, which is essential for penetrating and absorbing water. Likewise, sand is also often used in potting mixes, as it helps to improve airflow and root growth.
There are various soil types for gardening, like sandy soil or clayey soil, and each is comprised of a different percentage of sand. For example, sandy soil comprises 45% to 60% coarse sand, while clayey soil has 80% sand on it. But the question is, what’s the best sand for gardening?
If you came here with the same question, we’d share an overview of different types of sand and their uses in gardening. In this way, you can choose the best sand for your specific gardening needs.
Overview of sand types and their uses
There are different types of sand available. Whether it’s for gardening or not, it would help to know these before proceeding to sand for gardening.
1. Builder’s Sand
This sand is also famous as concrete sand. It is often used as a base layer in patios, walkways, and retaining walls. It is coarser than other types of sand and is not typically used in potting mixes or soil amendment.
Builder’s sand is typically mixed with heavy soils to increase the flow of air and water through the soil.
2. Play Sand
Play sand is fine, clean sand made from silica. Silica is a mineral found in the earth’s crust.
Due to its finer and smoother characteristics, this sand is often used in children’s play areas and sandboxes. However, it is not recommended for use in gardening, as it may contain impurities that can harm plants. Additionally, play sand doesn’t give aeration to plants.
3. Horticultural Sand
Horticultural sand is a coarse sand that is specifically designed for use in gardening. It is often used to improve soil drainage and structure and to prevent waterlogging. This coarse is made from quartz, sandstone, and granite, all crushed.
You can use horticultural sand when planting seeds and taking cuttings, potting mix for container growing, loosening heavy soil, and improving lawn health. Although horticultural sand is made for gardening, it’s still not a good idea to substitute it for soil. You can only use it as an amendment.
4. Kiln-Dried Sand
Kiln-dried sand is a very fine sand often used in potting mixes. Among all sand types here, it’s the type that has been processed to get rid of moisture and other impurities.
This san is ideal for gardening because it helps to improve airflow and root growth and is particularly useful for succulent and cactus plants.
5. Quartz Sand
Quartz sand is a very fine sand used in greenhouse benching and growing beds. It is sterile and pH neutral, making it a good choice for propagation mixes.
It also has many other uses, like glassmaking and construction. But if you plan to add it to your garden or horticulture, it’s safe and one of the amendments you can use as a growing medium.
What is the best sand for gardening?
Although we’ve covered different types of sand, not all of them apply to gardening. So to help you with this, we’ve filtered out the best sand for gardening that you can use as a soil amendment.
1. Horticultural Sand
Often called horticultural grit, this sand is lime-free and safe for the soil’s pH balance. It’s also one of the best sand for gardening for various reasons.
- It’s effective when combined with clay soils, making it a well-draining plant potting mix.
- You can DIY it if you want slow-draining soil just by using peat moss or mulch.
- It offers a balanced pH soil level and can adjust by adding some ingredients. For example, adding line and alkaline will raise the pH, while grit and ammonium sulfate will make the soil more acidic.
- It encourages the aeration of the soil, making it an excellent ingredient in composting.
2. Builders Sand
This sand is typically made up of bigger grains of silica. It works best as an alternative for horticultural sand for gardening, especially coarse ones. Utilizing builders sand for gardening includes different advantages, such as
- It improves soil drainage.
- Its coarse texture aids in loosening compacted soil, which is beneficial to roots.
- It is ideal to use in walkways, patios, and hardscapes as a soil structure.
- You can easily mix it with compost or topsoil to meet the specific needs of your plants.
So, here are our two best sand for gardening, which we recommend you amend on your soil. It’s because their properties are perfect for gardening and beneficial to plants.
What are the characteristics of the best sand for gardening?
For sand to be ideal for gardening, you need to be aware of the different characteristics or properties it should possess, such as the following.
- The sand should offer good drainage and aeration. These two are essential for the health of plants, as they help ensure that the roots receive adequate oxygen and don’t become waterlogged.
- The pH level and nutrient content of the sand can affect the growth of plants, so it’s important to choose sand with a pH level that is right for the plants you want to grow. Additionally, the nutrient content of the sand can provide plants with important minerals for healthy growth.
- The particle size and shape of the sand are also important for gardening. Larger particles provide better drainage, and smaller particles allow for better water retention.
- Cleanliness and the absence of impurities in the sand are important for the health of plants. For example, impurities such as salts, chemicals, or pollutants can harm or even kill plants. It’s important to choose sand that is free of these impurities to ensure the success of your gardening.
Get the best sand for gardening needs!
As you see, not all of the available sand in the market is viable. That’s why you must be careful and knowledgeable in choosing the best sand for gardening. Ensure that you use only either horticultural or builders sand for your plants’ benefits.
Likewise, if you want to explore more types of sand, don’t forget to consider the pH level and nutrient content, particle size and shape, drainage and aeration capabilities, and cleanliness of that sand. All these factors can impact your plants, and you do not want sand that ruins them.
Once you are decided on what sand to use, make sure to apply it correctly. If it has application and usage instructions, follow them. Additionally, you need to mix y our sand with the soil at the right ratio and water it after application.
Have some experience with the best sand for gardening? Share it with us! Gardening is a great way to connect with nature and experience the joy of growing plants, and by sharing your experiences and results, other people can help improve their own gardening practices!