Can You Use Play Sand For Plants: The Secret of The Grain

You’re ready to grow plants, and you have all the beds or pots, plus you know what you plan to grow. Potting soil can seem complicated, and you may wonder if you can use play sand for your plants, especially if you have some on hand. 

Can you use play sand for plants? You cannot use play sand for plants. The larger grain of planting sand helps the soil drain and allows air to get to your plant roots. Meanwhile, play sand is very fine grain and could end up causing more trouble than it’s worth. It’s always better to use garden sand for your plants. 

Can You Use Play Sand For Potting Mix

Adding play sand to anything other than a sandbox or art project is probably the wrong idea. You cannot use play sand for plants, so you shouldn’t add it to your potting mix. The problem is the grain. 

Regular horticultural sand, building sand, and even most beach sands are larger pieces. Meanwhile, play sand is incredibly tiny and almost soft to the touch, and as a result, it doesn’t help create drainage. More importantly, it does the opposite. 

Using fine play sand will create a problem, just as having too much clay in your sand is an issue. Essentially, it clumps together and holds water or blocks it so that it doesn’t pass through the potting mix. 

To grow healthy plants, you need the soil to drain. When water gets stuck, it creates a superb environment for mold, bacteria, and root rot. Don’t use the wrong soil additives. 

I recommend Mother Earth Coco Plus Perlite Mix from Amazon because it resists clumping. This 70% coconut coir and 30% perlite blend is a great alternative to standard soil, and it drains exceptionally well to keep plants healthy. Best of all, coconut coir lasts longer than many dirt-based blends, so you won’t need to add soil or repot so often. Click here to read the outstanding Amazon reviews for yourself. 

Can You Use Play Sand For Gardening

Adding to the potting mix isn’t the same as adding to your outdoor garden beds. Although you cannot use play sand on indoor plants, you may still want to try it in your garden. Especially when you have an abundance of play sand, using it up seems like a smart choice. 

I recommend a 4 foot by 4 foot wooden garden bed that has metal connectors, click here to see one that has sturdy metal connectors. 

Regrettably, play sand isn’t the right ‘stuff’ for plant-growing applications. However, there are types of sand that you can add to both your gardening and potting soils. These sands have bigger pieces. 

Horticultural sand is the obvious choice. However, you can often substitute builders or construction sand. So long as the source is clean. The large silica grains help create flow within a denser soil mixture, so water escapes and plant roots get air. As odd as it may seem, plants can drown.  

It’s useful to know that there are several other names for large grain sands you can use in gardening. Horticultural grit, concrete sand, and sharp sand are among the names for coarse sand. However, you will never find it under the simple name ‘coarse sand.’

Just as the builders’ sand, you need a good, clean source, not a reused and possibly polluted sandy area. Otherwise, you can use most large grain sand. 

The only other important thing to consider with alternate sands is that they may come from a clean source and still cause an issue if you don’t know the composition. Some sand is ground from rock, and certain rocks, like limestone, drastically alter the soil pH. Since plants tend to be picky about their soil pH, you should always find out what type of sand you’re looking at before mixing it into your garden. 

Is Horticultural Sand The Same As Play Sand

With so many names for sand, it can get a little confusing. While you can’t use play sand as gardening sand, is it the same thing as horticultural sand? If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘horticulture,’ is gardening and garden management. Thus horticultural sand is sand that is right for gardens. 

In short, horticultural sand and play sand are more opposite than they are similar. The reason play sand is so fine is to prevent the people playing in it from getting hurt. Because children play in ‘play sand’ most often, a larger grain could easily irritate their delicate skin.

Moreover, fine-grained sand is easier to make sandcastles with. The smaller grains trapping water is awful for your garden, but fantastic when it comes to making temporary molded art. If you’re looking for something more like horticultural sand, you want the other kind that helps water move away from buildings or plant roots. 

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Organic Mix is outstanding for indoor plants. Lightweight and well aerated, you can use this for any plant, but it’s especially useful for hanging plants when you don’t want to add unnecessary weight. Not only does this blend include micronutrients, but you also get a pair of complementary gloves to protect your hands while you plant. Learn all about FoxFarm Potting Soil on Amazon by clicking here. 

Can You Use Play Sand For Succulents

Soggy soil is the bane of succulents. Sadly, that means you cannot use play sand for these notoriously hard-to-kill plants. The thing that makes succulents so easy to take care of is that they don’t need a lot of water to thrive. 

Despite their plump and visually pleasing leaves, succulents are second only to cactus or ai plants in their low water consumption. All succulents want is the sun, and quick-draining soil so they never get over watered. Despite the ‘tough’ rumors, you can actually drown a succulent very easily if you give it too much water or soil that stays wet. 

Happy succulents can grow in many mixes, but they generally need the same basic things. Perlite, soil, and lots of sand or even fine gravel. You’ll want at least a fifty mix of the sand and soil before adding other ingredients as well. Depending on your regional weather, and your succulents’ locations, you may need more sand to help them drain. 

Can Beach Sand Be Used For Gardening

Since play sand cannot be used for plants, you may naturally assume beach sand is a bad choice as well. Certainly, beach sand has salt, which we all know is bad for plants. However, you might be surprised. 

As it turns out, you can use beach sand in potting mixes and gardening. The trick here is that you must also include other soil amendments. On its own, the beach sand tends to have a coarser grain than play sand, but it lacks the nutrients your plants need. 

Add fertilizer, biochar, peat, or compost to help balance out that salty sand. Furthermore, you can grab a piece of cheesecloth and run a little freshwater over your salty beach-fresh sand to carry some of the saline buildups away before you start mixing it.

Also, make sure you blend up the correct pH and composition for each type of plant. Just as succulents need very little water, other plants need a great deal. Likewise, some prefer more acidic soils and others a more base composition. If you look into what your plants need, you can avoid mixing those that can’t stand each others’ company. 

A bag of Espoma AP2 Organic Potting Mix from Amazon is ideal for indoor growing. Not only does it have all-natural ingredients, but you don’t need to worry about any chemicals leaching into your plants. Especially when you are growing food plants like vegetables, this is vital for your health. Epsoma is enhanced with myco-tone water-saving formula to help prevent wasted water. To have a bag delivered to your door, click here. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right, high-quality potting mix for your plants is vital. Don’t just mix in things you have on hand such as play sand, beach sand, or yard soil as this can cause serious issues with improper drainage. It may seem counterintuitive to think that plants don’t ‘like’ certain types of dirt, but it’s true.

Make sure your pots are the right size as well. Your plants need proper drainage, but if the container is too small it won’t matter. The roots will end up bound into a ball in a too-small pot. Like sunlight and plant food, your indoor plants need the right containers and soil to thrive. 

Always mix larger grain sand in your soil, or choose a mix that already contains the sand you need. Whether you DIY or shop for custom dirt, your plants will thank you for not adding a bunch of ultra-fine play sand. 

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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