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Sandy Soil Flower Garden

Garden Plan For Sandy Soils

Your sandy soil garden might be difficult at times, but do not despair! Using these plants for sandy soils you can create a beautiful extended-bloom garden. The key to success in your sandy soil garden is to understand the properties of this soil type and to choose plants that have adapted to thrive there.

In general, perennials that prefer sandy soils are happy being on the drier side and function well with little nutrients – a great recipe for a lower maintenance garden!

Understanding Sandy Soil Properties

Working with sandy soil in the garden

Soil plays a critical role in determining what plants will grow happily and thrive, or what plants will struggle and die. Understanding the type of soil you have in your garden is important to help choose what will succeed there.

In general, soil is made up of a percent of each clay, sand, and silt. Clay is the smallest soil particle while sand is the largest, with silt finding the happy medium in between. So what does it mean if you’ve determined that your soil is dominated by sand?

  Because sand is the largest soil particle it means that water can move through the large pore spaces rapidly.

  A sandy soil also has so much air in it that microbes consume organic matter very quickly.

  Because sandy soils usually contain very little clay or organic matter, they don't have much of a crumb structure.

  The soil particles don't stick together, even when they're wet.

  This fast drainage is an advantage for growing plants that like to be dry. However, sandy soils are typically low in nutrients. This is because the large pore space and fast drainage washes out any available nutrients.

  Sandy soils also warm up and cool down relatively quickly from the air temperature changes, meaning growth in the spring will start quickly but cool nights in the autumn will make the perennials go into dormancy earlier as well.

How To Amend Sandy Soils

Even very poor soil can be dramatically improved, and your efforts will be well rewarded. With their roots in healthy soil, your plants will be more vigorous and more productive.

  Work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or finished compost.

  Mulch around your plants with leaves, wood chips, bark, hay or straw. Mulch retains moisture and cools the soil.

  Add at least 2 inches of organic matter each year.

Sandy Soil Plant Catalog

The table below has 26 plants that are tolerant of sandy soils. The list includes both full sun and shade tolerant plants, flowers, grasses and ferns. This is only a partial list but includes plants that are commonly found at your local native plant nursery.

Bloom Common Name Scientific Name Color Height Light Soil Moisture
EARLY Arrow-Leaved Violet Viola sagittata Blue 6-9" Arrow-Leaved Violet, Viola sagittata C,L, S M
Bishop's Cap Mitella diphylla White 1' Bishop's Cap, Mitella diphylla C,L,S M,Mo
Columbine Aquilegia canadensis Red,Yellow 1-3' Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis L,S D,M
Eastern Star Sedge Carex radiata Green 1-2' Eastern Star Sedge, Carex radiata L,S M,Mo
Golden Alexanders Actaea alba Yellow 1-2' Golden Alexanders, Actaea alba C,L,S M,Mo,W
Lupine Lupinus perennis Blue 1-2" Lupine, Lupinus	perennis S D
MID Broad-Leaved Penstemon Penstemon ovatus Purple 2' Broad-Leaved Penstemon, Penstemon ovatus S,R D,M
Hay Scented Fern Dennstaedtia punctilobula Green 1-2' Hay Scented Fern, Dennstaedtia punctilobula C,L,S D,M
Leadplant Amorpha canescens Purple 2-3' Leadplant, Amorpha canescens L,S D,M
Smooth Penstemon Penstemon digitalis White 2-3' Smooth Penstemon, Penstemon digitalis C,L,S M,Mo
Bluejoint Grass Calamagrostis canadensis Straw 4' Bluejoint Grass, Calamagrostis canadensis C,L,S M,Mo,W
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca Lavender,Pink 2-4' Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca C,L,S D,M
Scarlet Beebalm Monarda didyma Red 3-5' Scarlet Beebalm, Monarda didyma C,L,S M,Mo
Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta Yellow 1-3' Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta C,L,S D,M,Mo
MID-LATE Great St. John's Wort Hypericum pyramidatum Yellow 6' Great St. John's Wort, Hypericum pyramidatum C,L,S, R M,Mo
New Jersey Tea Ceanothus americanus White 2-3' New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus L,S D,M
Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Lavender 2-5' Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa C,L,S D,M,Mo
Brown-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia triloba Yellow 2-5' Brown-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba L,S M,Mo
Cup Plant Silphium perfoliatum Yellow 5-10' Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum C,L,S M,Mo,W
Lavender Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Lavender 3-4' Lavender Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum L,S D,M
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Lavender 3-4' Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea C,L.S D,M
LATE Heart-Leaved Aster Eurybia cordifolius Blue 2-3' Heart-Leaved Aster, Eurybia cordifolius C,L,S D,M
Tall Ironweed Vernonia altissima Purple,Pine 5-8' Tall Ironweed, Vernonia altissima C,L,S Mo,W
Tall Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium fistulosum Lavender,Pink 5-8' Tall Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum C,L,S M,Mo
Zigzag Goldenrod Solidago flexicaulis Yellow 5-8' Zigzag Goldenrod, Solidago flexicaulis C,L,S D,M
Calico Aster Eurybia lateriflorum White 2-3' Calico Aster, Eurybia lateriflorum C,L,S D,M

SOIL:     L = Loam      C = Clay      S = Sandy      R = Rocky
MOISTURE:  D = Dry      M = Medium      Mo = Moist      W = Wet 

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