Monthly Archives: September 2020

Soil vs. Sand

Is your landscaping project better suited for sand, soil, or a combination of both? Ultimately, sand is a type of soil, as is peat, silt, loam, and clay. All of these soils are created when rocks are broken up, usually by natural forces like salts, wind, or water. Soil is actually a pretty broad definition, especially in the world of landscaping, and refers to the top layer of the earth. However, sand is unique because it’s made up entirely of rocks and sometimes mineral grains. 

Sand is formed when these mineral particles and rocks are finely and somewhat evenly divided. Sand is different in various parts of the world but is generally comprised of calcium carbonate, silica, and a variety of other materials. A single grain of sand is non-porous, so it doesn’t hold water. However, sand particles have plenty of space between them to allow for free-flowing air passage. Soil is different because it’s mostly comprised of organic matter from plants and animals that live in or use the soil. Soil is porous, so it holds water and the little particles that make up soil are packed tightly together. Soil can be penetrated less easily than sand, so water can even sit on top of it.

Why Use Sand?

Sand can be a fantastic choice for many landscaping projects. One of the most common uses is in between pavers. Sand has a leveling quality so that pavers don’t break or move as easily. You can also use sand to create concrete for walkways, edging, outdoor patios, and much more. Of course, sand is also a popular choice to create play areas like a sandbox. Sand might also be your best bet to go under play areas to allow for a soft landing. Many sports areas are created largely with sand, using pavers or wood as the “rim.”

Alternatively, garden soil is designed to nurture certain kinds of veggies, flowers, or herbs. The exact soil makeup for your yard or garden will depend on what types of plants you want to support. There’s also “black dirt,” which isn’t the best choice for plants but can be a great option for filling in areas, prepping yards for sod, or making walkways. Black dirt has an especially large amount of organic material from plants. “Compost” is the term for organic material that has decomposed. It’s not an alternative for soil or black dirt, but rather an additive. Compost can be made of animal or plant material (or both) and is full of nutrients to make the soil even healthier for plants.

Making Your Decision

Sand is a type of soil, and all types of soil have various benefits depending on your goals. It’s very common for gardeners and homeowners to select a variety of different soils for various parts of their yard and gardening projects. Within these subsets of soils (such as sand or compost), there is also a myriad of additional types. The Dirt Bag will work with you to determine your needs and design an order just for you.

Sod Myths Debunked

If you’ve ever admired a neighbor’s flawless, lush, green yard, it’s a good chance it’s made of sod. It’s nearly impossible to achieve a perfect lawn with anything except sod—which is why golf courses almost exclusively use sod. Sod can be a great way to get the yard of your dreams, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about sod flowing around. The first is that it takes more water to support sod, and that simply isn’t true (at least not after the first two weeks).

This myth likely began because it’s critical to fully soak the yard as soon as sod is laid. Watering should continue on alternating days for more weeks as well. This can certainly make it seem like sod is a water hog, but when the sod roots have developed into the soil at two weeks, the watering reduces dramatically. In reality, sod requires less water than a natural lawn once it’s been established. Sod just requires a lot of water early on to make sure it doesn’t dry out. It does take a few months for sod to fully establish a turf, and you might find yourself watering a little more during this period. However, in under one year, sod will become the least thirsty of any established lawn possible.

Don’t Fall for These Sod Stories

You may have heard that sod requires a lot of chemicals, and that isn’t true. In fact, fewer chemicals are used with sod when compared to seeding a lawn. Sod is simply strips of grass that were professionally grown to be weed- and disease-free. Sod is a mature and hyper-healthy turf, so you don’t need as much fertilizer to get it established. Since sod is weed-free, you won’t need to use any herbicides and most homeowners can easily “catch” and remove any weeds that might form in future months right away. When you seed a yard, weed invasions happen because the soil has weed seeds—that isn’t the case with sod. Plus, young seedlings are more vulnerable to bacteria and fungi that cause disease compared to mature seedlings found in sod.

You’ve also probably heard that sod is expensive. It’s true that sod is going to cost more than seeds, but at what ultimate cost? Seeds are inexpensive because they can’t guarantee an even, healthy, attractive turf. In the long run, you’re going to spend a lot more on seeding than that first bag of seeds. Seeding requires ongoing and costlier maintenance and management, plus more water and chemicals, in order to achieve a decent-looking yard. Experts estimate that, when considering your yard as a “long game,” seeding and sod actually cost about the same. The big difference is that you get an immediate, perfect lawn with sod that will never be possible with seeds.

Learn More About Sod

Sod has many benefits, including enhancing the environment by minimizing sediment loss and runoff. Ready to find out more about sod options for you and your yard? Connect with The Dirt Bag today.