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Do I need sand in my soil?

Many of us have clay soil, which can be too wet for plants to survive, and while adding a lot of compost to the soil can fix the problem, it is a temporary solution as compost can break down fast in a season, leaving you once again with clay. Adding sand can be an option as well as some other things. When you are looking to purchase sand, play sand is not typically the ideal. You are looking for a coarse silica sand, you can tell the difference by the size of the grains of sand. Play sand is very fine, it usually looks like little round dots in your hand if you look at them up closely, if you can find coarse silica sand, a much bigger shape, and it usually randomly shaped but can often look like tiny footballs. the important thing when you are looking for drainage is the size of the space between the particles, if they are bigger with oblong shapes, you are going to have much more space between each particle compared to very compact tight space, imagine the water trying to move between the two, obviously the bigger spaces is going to allow it to move much more freely. Personally, I’ve found pool filter sand at one of the big box stores works when I need it. Other things I’ve used in the past is grit, which I’ve had trouble finding recently, it’s what they used to feed the chickens, tiny rocks. Instead, now I find oyster shells, which can also work well, and I’ve heard it helps deter chipmunks from digging in areas as the rough shells scratch their paws as they dig. However, this might also deter earthworms from moving through your soil as well, so it something to consider as their soft bodies would find the roughness equally harsh. There is also calcined clay, that are bits of porous clay that can also help aerate your soil, however from what I’ve seen it can be a bit pricey. If you intend to add sand to change the soil structure, you will need to add usually several inches of sand to the top of the soil and work it in, along with a few inches of compost to even everything out.

Getting your soil perfect is a long-term project, but a very valuable one, it is important when you begin this journey to remember the first lesson and get that soil test, and you may have to follow up each year until you get everything where you want it. At that point you just must maintain the levels at the right point.

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