The large particles making up sandy soils refuse to bond together into a good crumb structure, and this means they lose water quickly and don’t hold onto nutrients well. But gardening on a light, sandy soil is not all bad. These soils warm up quickly in spring and you can tread, fork, and dig them on virtually any day of the year. Improvements include adding lots of organic matter, but you’ll find this disappears quickly. There are plenty of plants more than happy to grow on well-drained soils, including many of Mediterranean origin. Herbs such as lavender, thyme, and rosemary will be much happier on sand than a sticky clay. Plants of dubious hardiness will come through hard winters much better with drier roots and survive on sands when they would have rotted away on damp clays.
Tips for gardening on sandy soil
- A good way of conserving water in sandy areas is to mulch beds with a layer of shingly stones. Start by digging and enriching your flower bed with plenty of humus. Choose a good range of drought-tolerant plants and plant them slightly above the soil. Water thoroughly and mulch with a 3-4-inch layer of shingly stones (not too fine). The stones will help to keep out the weeds and protect the soil from evaporation.