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How to Use Sand For Plants? Buying & Using Guide

Do you want to beautify your garden with plants and have all the materials and containers ready but have confusion in choosing sand for plants?

If so, I will be helping you to understand the benefits of sand for plants due to its high porosity and lack of compactness.

Generally, there are several types of sand including horticultural sand, builder sand, play sand, and beach sand useful for plants. They help prevent waterlogging, loosen the pact soil, and allow the roots to take their standard breathing time by proper aeration.

A person is holding the sand in his hand.
Sand’s particle size ranges from 0.5 mm to 2 mm.

With that said, the sand promotes the growth of shrubs and bulbs such as Hibiscus and Tulips with fruits like Strawberries and Papaya, including other plants. 

If you are new to sandy soil, you may need more effort to experiment with your plant but luckily you have found this article to save time and effort! 

Is Sand Good for Plants?

Yes, choose sandy soil if you plan to grow succulents and cactus in your garden, as these plants need well-draining soil.

But sand might not be a good option if you plan to have a garden filled with roses and jasmine.

Soil having a high amount of sand allow aeration of the plant roots and prevents water stagnation. However, the sandy soil is suitable for plants having deep root systems, demanding less water.   

Lettuce is growing in container filled with sand.
Sand cannot hold big trees due to its loose texture but supports the growth of deep-rooted tuber vegetables and lettuces.

So better to use the sand for kitchen gardening with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, reddish, onion, beet, zucchini, and lettuces.

If you want to build a flower garden, choose bright, colorful flowers like Lavender, Bearded Iris, Phlox, Rosemary, Butterfly weed, and Cosmos, as they can thrive well in dry, drought conditions. 

Not to remind you, everything has its pros and cons so does sandy soil. Let us find it out!

Advantages Disadvantages
Sands have large particles useful for reducing the compactness of soil when mixed with clayey soil.They cannot hold nutrients.
Sand allows percolation of water and make the potting soil well-draining.
Sandy soils are highly acidic.
Sands warm up easily and quickly even in short duration of sunlight.They lack water retention property so are not good for hydrophilic plants.
Sandy soil allows growth of the root, deep down to the ground. Sandy soils need regular check for moisture and fertilizer content and are tedious to look after.

When to Use Sand for Gardening?

Gardening is never easy, but if you have passion, choose the best soil for your plants as it is the only base for their rapid growth.

If your choice is sand, do not use it alone as it will increase productivity when used in a mix with other soil, mainly clay, but it depends on the plant you choose to grow as succulents love sandy soil.

A glass jar containing silica and perlite is supporting a succulent to grow.
A 50-50 ratio of coarse silica sand and perlite can be the best medium for the growth of succulents and cactus.

Let’s understand the use of sand for gardening.

  • Mix the sand with compost or peat at the seeding time as it will provide a soil-less mixture allowing a well-drained medium with air circulation for growth.
  • Container soil compacts over time, so to loosen the ground, you can add one part of sand to your potting mix and a 50-50 ratio of sand and peat for cactus and succulents.
  • It works best to loosen up the heavy soil like clay as roots cannot expand in tight soil, and adding sand provides porosity to the ground.
  •  Add sand with a pitchfork or aerator to the lawn to cure the hardening of soil due to waterlogging conditions. 

The sands have large particles and are loosely arranged so are the best option for transplanting plants as the roots will not be affected. 

What Kind of Sand is Good for Gardens?

Sand sounds like a general term for most of us, having the same quality as a single term, but instead, it has a variety.

The options are vast for you to choose from for your garden. Let us know the types that it offers!

1. Horticultural Sand

The best sand for most garden plants is horticultural sand, which is sharp, coarse, and gritty, containing both small and large particles.

Because of the bigger particle size than clayey soil and smaller than granules, horticultural sand allows aeration and proper drainage and establishes itself as the ideal sand for your garden.

A container is fffilled with sand with small pots inside the container with a trowel over the sand.
Horticultural sand is helpful in top dressing a plant and promotes the quality of the soil.

Moreover, the sand can uphold the nutrients compared to other soil types.

2. Builder Sand

Another sand for indoor plants and gardening you can count on is the builder sand, preferred by most gardeners for their potting mix to their raised beds.

Try mixing peat, perlite, and builder sand in a 2:1:1 ratio for foliage plant and soil, peat moss, perlite, and builder sand in a 2:1:1:1 ratio for succulents.  

If you plan to establish a garden full of floras, try builders sand as it is readily available and more accessible for you to cope with because of its coarse texture.

3. Play Sand

Play sand has similar properties to clay soil, forming a lump and blocking water flow to the deep roots. 

Do not use play sand for your succulents or any indoor plants, as it does not work well for your potting mix since it will cause waterlogging, affecting the roots of the plant. 

A person is mixing the soils in a basket over a bench.
Play sands have a fine texture resembling clay and can be a good option for artifacts made from sand and for children to play with as it will not hurt their hands.

However, it can be a good option for molded arts and children to play with because of its fine texture.

4. Beach Sand

Moving further to the type of sand, beach sand can be a good option for gardening if you live near a coastal area.

But remember to provide them with enough compost and fertilizer to balance the high amount of salt present in the beach sand.

Try washing off the sand in fresh running water using a muslin cloth to remove salts.

Note! River Sand and Silica Sand are also the type of sand whose granules are bigger than sugar size allowing water to flow to the deep roots.

How Do You Mix Sand for Plants?

After knowing the types, you are ready to understand the standard quantity of sand that a plants demand from its growing base.

The sand amount differs according to the plant as drought-resistant plants like Pinguicula and Pygmie Sundew love sandy soil while Daylily, Asters, and Coneflowers loathe sands. 

A cactus is grown in sandy soil.
Pests do not quickly attack sand as they lack waterlogging or nutrient content, making feeding difficult.

You can try some of the amendments to make the sand suitable for every type of plant.

  • Add compost mainly of plant origin or manure to increase the sand’s nutrition and water retention ability.
  • You can mix 20% of river sand with the potting mix as a substitute for perlite for plants like succulents and roses and 50% for cactus and adenium plants.
  •  Mixing the silica sand in the potting mix of plants like epiphytes, air plants, and bonsai helps improve the soil’s drainage.
  • Apply mulch over the garden plant if you have sandy soil, as it will prevent excess warming of the ground and evaporation.
  • Use rotting material over sandy soil to improve the water holding capacity.
A person uis holding black soil in his hand.
Sand can attain a certain retention level when used along with compost and can help provide the plants with the required nutrition.
  • Add coconut coir to the sandy soil as it quickly gets mixed with the sand and helps in holding nutrients to a certain degree.
  • Adding granular fertilizer with a 10:10:10 ratio of N: P: K will fill the spaces between the sand particle, but remember to cover them to prevent erosion.

Note! According to research by Utah University, sandy soil has a water uptake rate of 5 cm to 25 cm per hour, so they need regular watering to balance the water requirement of plants.

Where to Buy Sand for Plants?

Choosing the best sand for your gardening and indoor plants ensures that your hard work will be fruitful under the maintained conditions.

But searching over the internet for the best sand can be tedious. So let me list out for you to choose from and buy.

Rock-It Direct LLC SandNeutral pH with grains size ranging from 2 mm to 5 mm
Improves water drainage and aeration of soil
Pure Original Ingredients Potting & Garden SandScreened and washed sands with no other additives
Mosser Lee SandConvenient to work with and used as decorative in vases and terrariums. Helps to preserve moisture and loosens the compact soil
Hoffman SandA decorative soil cover and rocks have pores that helps in absorption of water
Calibonsai Coarse SandThey have neutral pH and are good for Cactus, Bonsai, Succulents.


Understanding sand’s types and qualities like acidity and spontaneous percolation with proper aeration in the soil help you select the best plants for your garden. 

But remember that it needs more care and attention from your side than clay soil in watering and fertilizer.

If you own the jungle of houseplants, you may also need watering cans.

Finally, enjoy your time to look over the uses of sand and grow the best plants!

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