Is Sandy Soil Good For Plants?


Soil has six different variations, clay , sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, and loamy. They vary and are different depending on the ratio of their elements.

It is very important to know which is better for your plants and which is worse. Since you came across this article, you may be worried about whether or not you can grow plants in the sandy soil, or if it is beneficial for your little green friends?

In this article, we will discuss whether the sandy soil is good for plants or not. Additionally, it will teach you some tricks that will help you to make your soil more fertile and welcoming before you decide how much you put in your pot . So, let’s start exploring.

What Is Sandy Soil?

Before discussing whether sandy soil is good for plants or not, let’s clearly understand what sandy soil is.

Sandy soil has a gritty texture and is mainly composed of sand particles. Sand-dominating soil generally consists of more than 70% of sand and is considered to be not very good topsoil.

In comparison to other types, sandy soil has more and larger particles. It is mostly found in desert landscapes.

Sandy soils get warm pretty quickly with the sun’s influence and can retain much less moisture. Additionally, it also lacks nutrients in comparison to others.

If you look at the sandy soil under the microscope, you will notice that it looks like a bunch of tiny marbles. Those little particles have a pretty large space between them. Because of this space, the nutrients are washed right through.

The particles are tiny rocks, and as we know, rocks do not hold water. That is why the organic material has to be added to the sandy soil.

How To Know If Your Soil Is Sandy?

It is very easy to identify sandy soil. You can find out your soil texture by doing simple tests. When rubbed between the fingers, it has a gritty texture.

Try to squeeze the handful into a ball, it will not remain still and will run through your fingers. After the rain, puddles rarely appear in the sandy soil. Additionally, if you observe carefully, you will see the little sand particles with the naked eye.

Is Sandy Soil Good For Plants?

Sandy soil can be good for plants that have a very strong root system and like dry soil like Lithops.  Sandy soils are characterized by higher levels of acidity, therefore the greenery that is planted in this kind of dirt must do well in an acidic environment. Such plants are root vegetables that have deep roots.

Allium Plants such as onions and chives have a higher chance of success in sandy soil. Herbs like thyme and rosemary are familiar to Mediterranean climates, therefore will also do well in the sand-dominated soil.

How To Improve And Make Sandy Soil Fertile

Because it gets washed out pretty quickly, the nutrients and minerals do not hold in the sandy soil. On the other hand, they are very needed for plant growth.

If you have sandy soil in your garden, then most likely, you will have to start thinking about how to improve its fertility.

One of the first things that you can do is to add organic matter. This will raise the moisture retention and by adding organic soil amendment, it will become more welcoming to the wide range of plants.

For this job, one of the best organic materials is vermiculite, coconut coir, and peat moss.

The second thing that you can do is to lay down one layer of mulch. For this purpose, grass clippings, wood chips, straw, tree bark, leaves, and manures can be used.

The organic matter that has a low level of nitrogen will have to be composted first and then added to the soil. However, if the organic material is high in nitrogen, they can be directly incorporated.  By doing so, your soil will hold more water and excessive evaporation will be prevented.

Additionally, what you can do is grow cover crops. Those crops are also known as green manure crops. They increase the soil quality and help to retain needed nutrients and moisture.

Last but not least advice is to install the drip irrigation system. This way, the soil will be moist all the time, especially in the warm season. It is recommended to dig Sand-dominating dirt in the early spring or late winter.

Advantages Of Sandy Soil

Sandy soil can be much easier to care for in comparison to clay soil. and here is some of its benefits:

  • It is easy to dig and amend.
  • It has a loose texture and good air circulation.
  • Does not get compacted and provides good drainage.
  • Plant roots can establish and grow easily because of the low weight and less compatibility of the soil.
  •  Soil that has sand in it freezes late in winter and warms very fast in the spring. Therefore, it gives greenery more time to grow and establish.
  • Over watering is not a problem when having sandy soil. Therefore, the issues such as root rot that are following over watering are avoided.

Disadvantages Of Sandy Soil


The main disadvantage of the sandy soil is that it needs constant attention and intervention when growing diverse plants. If you like being out in the garden often, then this will not be a problem for you.

Some disadvantages of sandy soil include:

  • lack of nutrients. Additionally, the nutrients and water that are present flush quickly and therefore, require constant irrigation, compost, and granular fertilizer. Because of that, you will have to constantly add some organic matter to make it nutritious.
  • In the sandy soil, water moves down the straightaway and it does not spread. Therefore, you will have to make sure that the irrigation is done correctly to provide every plant with enough moisture.

Things To Avoid When Having Sandy Soil

When having sandy soil, one may be tempted to add “good soil” to it. This might work if you have plants whose roots grow very short, just a few inches deep,  like Turf grass. However, if you are planning to have ornamental plants or vegetables, then this may not be a good solution.

Some people think that if you mix clay in the sandy soil, they will even out each other and good soil will be received.

However, it is very risky, and if you make the wrong proportions, will only receive the texture of concrete. Instead, it is always better to leave the sandy soil as it is and only add some organic materials and fertilizers.

Plants That Grow Well In Sandy Soil

Some plants do very well in sandy soil and especially those, that prefer a well-draining environment and droughty soil.

  • Those are trees
  • shrubs
  • climbers
  • conifers
  • herbaceous perennials
  • ground-covering plants.

Most species of those genuses are suitable for sandy soil.

Some widespread flowering plants that can do well in sandy soil are lavender.

  • Hibiscus
  • Salvia
  • Sedum
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Bearded Iris
  • Butterfly weed
  • Rosemary

Vegetables include .

  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Bean
  • Beet
  • Onion
  • Reddish

The Verdict

Sandy soil can be good for various plants. It has benefits such as being soft and providing good drainage. However, it needs to be managed differently from other types of soils.

Sandy soil has to be regularly irrigated because of its fast drainage.

Additionally, you will have to add some organic matter and fertilizers to keep the plants fed. Other than that, Sandy soil can be good for plants.

Peride Beradze
Peride is an avid planter, Tour Manager and freelance writer. She is a plant collector who mainly focuses on succulents. She loves studying cultures, traveling and learning new languages.

Calculate the amount of soil you need for pots, raised beds or planter with the help of this easy to use Soil Calculator