I once in a while read in gardening books that certain plants should have
"course builder's sand" mixed into the potting soil. Does anyone know what
it is, and where to buy it. I have looked at places like Home Dept and
Lowes with no luck. Is such stuff found in building supply stores?
I use washed plaster sand. No, you don't wash it. The "washed"
refers to part of the processing, when mud, silt, and other debris
are removed. Plaster sand is used in making stucco, which gives
you some idea of its coarseness.
I see washed plaster sand in sacks at various nurseries, hardware
stores, and lumber yards. However, that is an expensive way to buy
it. I take a 5 gallon pail (about 2/3 of a cubic foot) to a nearby
building supply yard. For $1, they let me fill the pail myself.
A 50-50 mix of washed plaster sand and peat moss makes an excellent
potting mix, but it needs nutrients added to it. See my
Are you looking in the masonry department?
I can specifically remember seeing medium and fine sand in my local Lowes
last week. I don't recall if there was course sand there or not, as that
wasn't what I was looking for at the time, but there were other sands
besides the two I remember.
The key isn't "builders". It's "course". Builders is just a clue that you'll
find the sand in the builders section, not the garden center.
You can use:
1) sharp sand, course sand, paver jointing sand (for between pavers),
gardening sand, horticultural sand, river sand, course builders sand are
very similar. They are course enough that water can drain through them
and air can get in. Quickrete Patio Paver Jointing Sand or Quickrete
All-Purpose Sand for example.
You shouldn't use:
2) play sand, paver base sand (bedding for under pavers, not plants).
It is very fine and doesn't drain and doesn't aerate properly.
Quickrete Premium Play Sand or Quickrete Patio Paver Base Sand for
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Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA
I went the same route you did checking the building stores and garden
centers. The only place
I found this coarse sand was in garden supply yards that typically
sell other things like paving stones, etc. They sell mostly to landscapers.
several in my area of suburban Chicago where you go with a shovel and empty
sacks to huge bins
with various materials. I fill my own, and pay by the volume of
Possibly British books? Builders sand IS the sand that is available at
any builders merchant/yard.. Probably your Home Depot or our B&Q or
Its medium to course grained & used for mix in sand/cement mixes
(concrete) and is usually relatively untreated (compared to say, washed
sands or 'silver' play sands)
Several people have mentioned avoiding 'play sand' or 'sandbox' sand
because it is beach sand and far too fine, however the real danger is the
sodium content of such sand, if it was collected from a coastal area.
'Builder's Sand', 'Blasting Sand' etc. is all good stuff and can be found
in the masonry area of any BORG store (Big Orange Retail Giant)
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
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