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Gardening Solutions for Dry Sandy Soils

Has your desert or beach location stifled your gardening creativity? Try these ideas for a
beautiful, easy-to-maintain landscape.

One of the advantages of gardening in sandy soil is that it is easy to dig and cultivate, as well as easy to transplant. However, dry sandy soil does not hold nutrients or water well. Adding compost, mulch and organic matter over a long period of time is necessary to build up enough soil nutrients for plants that require rich soil. Reduce the workload in your garden by choosing from a variety of plants that thrive in sandy, nutrient-poor soil.

It is common to see drought-tolerant plants sparsely planted in sandy landscapes such as deserts and beaches. This planting style reduces the maintenance needs of your garden because it requires less water and fertilizer than a more heavily planted garden.

Before you begin, determine if you have sandy soil by doing a simple texture-based soil test, then explore below how to use your sand garden for a low-maintenance, beautiful look.

In the garden here, high wooden decks blend well with the paving stones to create a modern design.

For sandy soils, it is common in dry coastal climates. Soil has a powerful visual presence color, texture, brightness that determines the overall look and feel of your garden. The traditional way to use sand is to use a variety of materials that complement the sand’s tonal value means how light or dark a color and offset the plant color relationships. Landscape architects and designers are skilled at understanding these color and texture relationships and designing gardens that work as a whole.

Sand-tolerant plants

In general, drought-tolerant plants grow best in dry, sandy soils that drain well. Drought-tolerant plants can also survive in nutrient-poor sandy soil conditions. You can improve your flower beds with compost, but using the right plants can save you a lot of work in the long run.

The garden features a mix of hardy forms of agave along with grasses, wildflowers and other succulents. All of these plants are drought tolerant and can survive in well-drained sandy soil.

Plants have shapes and structures that help them survive drought. Succulents have fleshy leaves that retain moisture, while conifers’ needles reduce water loss.

Many herbs and wildflowers have very small or narrow leaves that help the plants retain moisture. Mulch certainly helps retain moisture at the soil surface, but choosing drought-tolerant plants for your landscaping is an easier way to garden with sandy soil.

Add a difficult sand path. Sandy soil can be difficult to handle if it is frequently trampled. A slightly elevated wooden walkway style path is an elegant way to stay light on the ground and keep the sand out of your control. It also prevents some of the sand from getting on your shoes and ultimately entering your home.

Incorporate stones. Newly popular dry gardens and xeriscape landscapes incorporate stone as a sculptural element, adding interest to sparse plantings. The gardens here are a combination of rugged stones, flat architectural pavers and stone walls. Stones of similar colors create a harmonious feeling.

When choosing stone, work with your landscaper to specify the exact color and finish. Ask for samples of the type of stone you choose and place them in your yard to see how they look in different lighting conditions and when wet. Observing how it looks on your site for a few days will    help you make the right decision about the color of the stone.

Use breathable paving. The biggest advantage of sandy soil is that it drains well. The permeable pavers used in these driveways are an environmentally friendly way to provide a running surface because they allow water to infiltrate the ground instead of runoff. If you have sandy soils, a permeable paving surface will drain water quickly while reducing the impact of the paving.

The concrete grid of the driveway here is cast-in-place concrete, reinforced with rebar and installed using plastic spacers to create planting space. Once the concrete has hardened, remove the plastic spacer. In the empty space, grass plugs, sod, and grass seeds are dispersed and grow into a green ground cover layer that fills the space between the concrete. There are also other permeable paving products based on modular pieces that fit together.

Pervious pavement can be used on all soil types, but conventional sandy soils require less subsurface drainage layer construction and require less labor to install.

Minimize water content. In a traditional desert garden, water is a precious commodity, whether it is a small focal fountain or a narrow water channel.

For sand gardens with drought-tolerant plants, it’s a good idea to think of the water element as a small focal point used to create the mood or feel of water without overwhelming the garden. The bathtub sits beautifully on the flagstone patio and is the perfect size for a medium-sized yard.

Using small water elements in a dry sand garden is a good choice for both aesthetic and
environmental reasons. If your sand garden is in a dry or coastal climate, high temperatures and strong winds are likely to increase evaporation rates from water bodies. Keeping the water element small is a way to reduce water loss.

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360' MoTo
360' MoTo
Great work! Highly recommended+++
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Hunter Vasanth
Well serives
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anne gorman
I highly recommend RDK landscaping!
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Elisabeth Sageev
Roy and Jay did a super job fixing up a very overgrown yard. They were fast, friendly, and responsive. Thank you!
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Nila Kutty
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