The Q&A Archives: Growing plants in nothing but sand

Question: I have a back yard in San Francisco, California that needs some landscape but the back yard which is 24 feet by 26 feet has nothing but sand and is surrounded by buildings 3 stories hight. I dug down 2 1/2 feet and did not find other kind of soil. Do you thing you could suggest me some shrubs to grow in such environment particularly if they have purple foliage? I am thinking about pottocarpus (spelling?) and razzleberry-fringe-flower or oleanders.
Thank You

Answer: Sandy soil can be a boon or a bane, depending on the types of plants you want to grow. Sandy soil drains quickly but it doesn't hold nutrients for any length of time so you'll want to fertilize regularly during the growing season. I would plant on amending the soil with some organic matter to help it hold some moisture. Trees and shrubs will especially benefit because if the soil is moist deep below the roots, the roots will grow deeply. This will firmly anchor the plants in the ground and also make the more drought tolerant. Once you've amended the soil, you can plant nearly anything you'd like. Oleanders and razzleberry are good choices for your gardening region.

Enjoy your garden!

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