What is Sandy Loam?

Anna T.

Sandy loam is a type of soil used for gardening. This soil type is normally made up of sand along with varying amounts of silt and clay. Many people prefer sandy loam soil for their gardening because this type of soil normally allows for good drainage. Sand particles are often larger and more solid than other types of particles found in soil, and for this reason there is normally more room for water to move freely through it. If water cannot drain well, plants are often at greater risk for becoming oversaturated, which might increase the likelihood that they will rot and develop diseases or fungus.

Gardeners may need to test the soil pH level often to ensure that it doesn't get too acidic.
Gardeners may need to test the soil pH level often to ensure that it doesn't get too acidic.

Many people are lucky enough to have sandy loam soil in abundance in their geographic areas, and because of this, it may not be necessary for them to try to alter their gardening soils before planting. People who do not have favorable sandy loam soil for gardening might have to do quite a bit of work before they can begin to plant their gardens. If a person's soil isn't sandy enough, sand can typically be worked in. It is important for a person not to add too much sand. Most people consider it a good rule of thumb to have even amounts of silt, sand, and clay for the perfect gardening spot.

Sandy loam allows for good garden drainage.
Sandy loam allows for good garden drainage.

All sandy loam is not necessarily considered equal because sand particles tend to differ in size. Sand particles can be extremely fine as well as large, and sand that is very fine usually doesn't offer superior drainage to the average garden. The majority of sand found naturally in the soil is not considered fine, but there are some people who might buy a bag of very fine textured sand to work into their gardens. People who want to use sand for the purpose of creating a sandy loam to help with drainage should make an effort to notice what type of sand they are purchasing.

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Gardeners may need to regularly test the pH levels of their soils to ensure that it doesn't get too acidic. Sand is typically acidic in nature, and if too much sand is worked into the soil, a garden could become too acidic. A pH tester should be able to accurately tell a person whether or not their pH levels should be lowered. In most cases, lime can be worked into soil that is too acidic to reduce the high levels of acid.

Gardeners should regularly test the pH of their soil to ensure it doesn't get too acidic.
Gardeners should regularly test the pH of their soil to ensure it doesn't get too acidic.

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Discussion Comments


@Ana1234 - Also, what people don't realize is that most sand they encounter in the wild, like sand at the beach, is not fine grade sand. If you need to add sand to the garden, there's really no good way to do it without buying sand specifically meant for that purpose.


@MrsPramm - It really comes down to deciding what it is you want to grow and where. There are enough people who love sandy loam soils for it to be in demand as a ready-made soil type.

And in some cases, they basically need to add sand to a soil that has too much clay and doesn't drain properly at all.

If that's the case, it's a good idea to try and get sand from a landscape supplies store, rather than trying to source it yourself, as natural sands inevitably have problems, like parasites, or salt content.


The problem with sandy loam soil is that it can be too easily drained and the water tends to wash away all the nutrients in the soil. It's really good for some kinds of trees and plants, especially ones like succulents which often need a dry soil and don't mind when it's a little low on nutrients, but for other kinds it's not the most ideal.

It can be a really great starting soil though, if you want to eventually build it up for different kinds of plants (and particularly in a vegetable garden). You can make it more able to hold nutrients by adding a lot of compost over the months and years and gradually building it up.

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