Sandy Soil


What is a Sandy soil?

Sandy Soil is formed from weathered rocks and feels gritty to touch, and will trickle through your fingers when handled.

It has poor structure, and little or no cohesive qualities.

On the plus side, its granular structure and low cohesion makes it easy to cultivate.

It warms up quicker in spring and root systems have little or no problem developing in it.

The soil grains remain separate unless they are mixed with clay or organic material.

On the negative side, sandy soils degrade easily, and are readily eroded by heavy rain or blown away in strong winds.

Some can collapse to form a bog when wet, or compact to form a hard surface crust.

Plant nutrients are quickly leached out, especially the nitrates, plus the loss of calcium and magnesium can turn the soil acid.

They cannot absorb water, meaning rainwater will flow easily through the soil and drain away under the influence of gravity.


Unless you are planning to make a dry or scree garden, the first priority is to increase sand's water-holding ability by working in organic matter.

Before you do this check the pH!

If lime is required, apply 270 grammes of Ground limestone per square metre (8oz per sq yd) two to three weeks before sowing or planting.

Do not add lime at the same time as adding organic material such as farmyard manure.

Re-test the pH annually, especially after a wet winter, because it is most likely that calcium will have been washed from the soil.

In autumn or early spring dig in copious amounts of organic material to improve the soil structure.(see note above)

Alternatively, sow a green manure as soon as areas come available after cropping a previous crop, this can then be dug in, in spring.

Sandy soils should be cultivated in spring rather than in autumn to prevent a hard crust forming.

However if time is at a premium, prepare the ground in late autumn and run a tiller or hoe over it just prior to planting out.

Apply mulch immediately after planting out to reduce water loss.

Keep cultivation / hoeing to a minimum, especially in summer, disturbed ground can dry out rapidly.

Frequent watering is likely during prolonged drought.

Top of the Page