The Q&A Archives: Gardening In Sandy Soil

Question: We recently moved to Ocean County NJ and have found there is very sandy soil. I would like some ideas of plants that would do well in this type of soil. Also, can I do xeriscaping? I would prefer info on drought resistent type of plants.

Answer: You can grow many plants in sandy soil as long as you pay attention to your soil preparation ahead of time. Be sure to add ample amounts of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, or aged stable manure and bedding when you prepare your planting areas. Also be sure to use an organic mulch such as shredded bark so that it will continue to add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down over time.

Xeriscaping is a method of categorizing plants by the amount of water they need. Using this method you would plant thirsty plants close to the house where they may be easily watered and enjoyed up close, then use less water sensitive plants further out into the landscape. Native plants may play a role here, as will groundcovers. Lawn is generally reduced in area since it tends to be a big water user. With some thoughtful planning you can certainly apply those principles to your yard.

You might wish to consult with your County Extension as to which plants tend to do particularly well in the soil found in your area. You will also wnat to run some basic soil tests and they can help you with that as well as interpreting the results.

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