Does Sand Help With Soil Drainage?

Figuring out what kind of soil to use for your plants can be challenging sometimes. After all, the properties of the soil can mean the difference between a plant thriving and dying. Do you want to try using sand to help your soil drain better but don't know if it will work? We did the research to bring you the answer.

Using sand is a great way to add drainage to your soil. Not only will sand break up your plant's soil but also help to aerate them and prevent root rot. That said, we don't recommend using too much sand for your plants because of how quickly it can drain water.

As we begin, we will cover all things soil drainage and tag some helpful products. Whether you are starting a succulent garden or need some help with your existing plant's drainage, we've got you covered. With that said, let's dive right into this post!

Cropped image of man digging sand with a shovel for garden, Does Sand Help With Soil Drainage?

Is Sand Good For Plant Drainage?

Generally, we would say mixing a bit of sand into your plant's soil will be good for drainage. Especially for those growing water-sensitive plants, making sure they have good draining soil is super important.

Sand essentially penetrates the soil and creates room for water to run through, thus increasing its drainage capability. Another benefit sand has on soil is aerating it, which is excellent for root development and plant growth.

Is Sand Better Than Dirt For Drainage?

When it comes to sand or dirt having better drainage, sand takes the crown. That said, sand drains water almost too well, which is why we recommend mixing it with dirt for gardening.

In most cases, you can find a pre-mixed potting soil with enough sand for drainage and enough dirt to hold onto some of that moisture.

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Mixed Potting Soil

This pre-mixed potting soil has sand, moss, peat, perlite, and limestone is 100% organic, and comes in a ten-quart bag.

Follow this link to view it on Amazon.

How Can I Make My Soil Drain Better?

If you're struggling with your soil's drainage, adding organic matter to your mix is an easy way to get water moving. Specifically, compost, manure, and mulch are good options for soil with poor drainage and aren't typically expensive to buy or make.

Another easy way to increase drainage is to mix sand or gravel into your soil to break it up and allow water to move through it.

FibreDust CoCo Mulch

This bag of cocoa mulch expands with water, covers around two cubic feet, increases drainage, is non-toxic, and comes in two sizes.

View this mulch on Amazon here.

OUPENG Course Sand Stone Gravel

This bag of gravel is 2.7 pounds, helps with soil drainage, and is 100% natural.

Check out this gravel on Amazon here.

Which Soil Has The Best Drainage?

Generally, sandy loam soil will have the best amount of drainage. Loam is essentially a mixture of clay, sand, and slit, perfect for moving water and keeping your plant's roots healthy.

Of course, regardless of what soil you choose, adding a bit of sand or coarse gravel to your mix will help it to drain water better.

Fast Draining Pre-Mixed Organic Potting Soil

This organic loam potting soil has peat, gravel, and natural limestone that helps with drainage and comes in two bag sizes.

See this organic soil on Amazon here.

How Much Sand Do I Add To Clay Soil?

The last puddle that remained in the dry ground

For anyone working with clay soil, we recommend adding a 1:1 ratio of sand to clay. Clay soil, in particular, is extremely dense, meaning you need an equal amount of sand in your mix to create good drainage.

That said, adding in organic matter like compost will give better results than only using sand, so consider throwing in some of your extra food scraps.

How To Improve Drainage In A Clay Soil Lawn

When it comes to improving drainage in a clay soil lawn, compost is your new best friend. As we covered above, clay soil is dense, meaning it gets wet and soggy when it rains and becomes very hard in dry, hot weather.

Adding organic matter like compost to your clay lawn helps soften it, creating better drainage and improving overall soil health. Another way to improve drainage in a clay soil lawn is to use a liquid aerator, which will create temporary pores in your lawn to drain water.

Read more: What To Put In A Compost Pile To Start It Going?

Simple Lawn Solutions Liquid Aerating Soil Loosener

This liquid soil aerator works to loosen clay, covers up to 32,000 square feet, and has good reviews from online customers.

Follow this link to see it on Amazon.

Is Soil Drainage Important?

Although plants need water to grow and survive, they can become too wet and die without good soil drainage. Especially for desert plants like succulents, having good draining soil is essential to keeping them healthy and root-rot-free.

Importance-wise, we think it's safe to say soil drainage is one of the essential components of gardening and shouldn't ever be ignored. Regardless of your garden's climate or average rainfall, ensuring its soil has enough drainage to sustain healthy plants is critical.

What Causes Poor Soil Drainage?

Although there are plenty of reasons soil has poor drainage, construction has one of the most significant impacts on its ability to filter water.

Typically, contractors remove multiple layers of soil during a home's construction, which can negatively affect how it will drain water in the future.

On the other hand, some soils are naturally dense, like clay, so many plants can't grow well in them.

Of course, using products like a liquid soil softener/aerator will help to reverse the effects of man/nature-created drainage issues and help filter out water more efficiently.

Is Sand Or Gravel Better For Drainage?

abstract photo of gravel hills

Between the two, gravel will typically drain soil better than sand will. Composition-wise, gravel is much larger than sand, which will break up soil better and reduce the chance of water pooling after heavy rainfall.

Although sand works well to improve soil drainage, it can clump together and retain moisture, which isn't always helpful if your garden is prone to flooding. 

What Gravel Is Best For Soil Drainage?

Typically, we recommend using gravel between 1/2 an inch to one inch in size to help with soil drainage. Of course, using bigger gravel is fine for a manufactured drain system, but smaller sizes are best for mixing right into your soil.

When it comes to gravel type, we think small lava rocks and pea gravel are good options for soil drainage and are usually not very expensive to purchase in bulk.

MIGHTY109 Grey Pea Gravel

This pea gravel comes in a 40-pound bag, has a variety of mixed colors, and is all-natural.

View this pea gravel on Amazon here.

How Do I Add Drainage To Potted Plants?

For anyone who needs to add drainage to their potted plant, this is pretty easy to do. To start, make sure your plant's pot has drainage holes at the bottom to filter out excess water.

Next, add sand, gravel, or both into your soil's top and bottom layer. Doing this will help drain extra water from your plant and keep its roots from getting too wet.

8" Self Watering + Self Aerating High Drainage Planter

This eight-inch pot is a durable plastic material, self-waters for two weeks has a drainage reservoir, and comes in a few sizes/colors.

Check out this planter on Amazon here.

Do Pots Need Drainage Holes?

Regardless of where a potted plant is, we think choosing one with drainage holes is important. If your pot doesn't have holes at the bottom, your plant will likely get overwatered and develop root issues.

Place a saucer underneath your pot to catch extra water, so you don't have to worry about making a mess.

To Wrap It Up

Cropped image of man digging sand with a shovel for garden, Does Sand Help With Soil Drainage?

Whether you want to start a succulent garden or have noticed your soil won't drain after it rains, it is essential not to let water build-up near your plants. Sand will help add drainage to your soil and prevent your plants from becoming overwatered.

When it comes to choosing soil, we recommend a sandy loam option to use for your gardening. Another idea to promote good drainage is to use gravel alongside sand to break up dirt and keep water from pooling.

Regardless, make sure to choose potting soil with sand or gravel mixed in, and don't be afraid to use a liquid aerator on thicker clay lawns.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related posts below:

Do Ferns Need Drainage? [And How Much Should You Water Them?]

4 Houseplants That Don't Need Drainage [& How To Grow Any Plant With No Draining]

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