Mixing Sand with Soil?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by cjcocn, May 15, 2006.

  1. cjcocn

    cjcocn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Hi all

    We will have been in our new (to us) house for a year this coming weekend. The previous owners tried some land scaping, but did not maintain it and it was pretty overgrown and had zero or negative slope in some areas (built a pond, planted various trees, shrubs, flowers, made a flower bed along both (long) sides of the house, etc.).

    We have some sandbags still up from some diking that we had to do as we live near a river that was expected to flood. The front of the house was diked with sand bags, and the 3 other sides was earth-diked (the earth part came from our lawn).

    I am clearing out everything and starting out fresh with the proper slope (we will replant trees, etc where we want them to be). I have the front yard cleared except for about 20 stumps (smaller ones no bigger than 8-10" in diameter). I have a few smaller trees (4" dia.) to remove in the front yard, and a few shrubs to remove in the back and side of the house, then I can start building my slope.

    My question is: can I just dump my sand bags out on my lawn and till the soil to mix it up, then bring in more fill/topsoil to obtain the proper slope? The three sides of the house already have no grass as it was torn up and the front of the house needs fill as well.

    We only have one landscaper in our town of about 10K and they are too busy for a little job like mine, so I am learning about this all as I go along. I know there is a need here for another company, so there I went looking for a forum and that's how I came to be posting here.

    Thanks for any help that you can provide.


    EDITED TO ADD: oops! ... my bad - this should have been posted in the Homeowners Assistance Forum.
  2. chevytrucks84

    chevytrucks84 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    someone else might know more but i think this will effect your drainage because the sand is going to fill in the poors of your current top soil and make it drain slower but i could be wrong.... hope this helps
  3. cjcocn

    cjcocn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Thanks chevy. I never thought of that - my drainage isn't great and I certainly don't want to detract from any work that I am doing right now. I just hired a machine to dig a ditch and install a culvert on my approach to increase the drainage capabilities of the front of my property.

    I still have to remove these sand bags before my weeping tile guy gets here (we are waiting for it to dry out a bit), but right now am trying to get as much of my yard cleared so that after he is done I can move right along to the topsoil/slope portion of this little project.

    So I guess the best thing to do is to refrain from mixing the sand into my existing soil and instead cart the sand bags away somewhere?


  4. chevytrucks84

    chevytrucks84 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    Yes unfortunately i think that would be your best bet
  5. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    Soil is a mixture of sand, silt and clay particles; sand being the largest particle and the soil that drains the easiest due to increased "air" space between the particles. Just visit any beach and watch the water disappear. :)

    Clay particles are the smallest and will compact the closest together. Too much clay and water equals a quagmire.

    PGA specked greens are almost 100% sand based (with drainage systems under them) so they will drain rapidly when downpours occur. Greens are regularly aerated and topdressed with sand in most areas.
  6. cjcocn

    cjcocn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7


    Thanks .... however, I seem to have confused myself even more! ;)

    Can you clarify wether is it a good or bad idea to mix in sand with the topsoil?

    Perhaps I should also add some clarification - the "soil" is largely sedimetary material as we are close to a river and much of the land here was built up over time (centuries, even) via the floods that used to occur here. Since the area became populated measures were put in place to reduce the flooding incidents down to zero, but the initial make-up of the soil remains.

    There is a minimal amount of topsoil (as in the black dirt stuff that I usually think of when I say topsoil) - probably 2 inches or so - then I get into the slick stuff that was originally there (this is the sediment deposit). This is the kind of stuff that you get stuck in real easy! There is some clay that is about 3 feet down.

    When I say mix in the sand, what I envision is tilling about 12 or so inches where ever I dump the sand. This would mix the 2" of topsoil, the inch or maybe two of sand, and about 8-10" of the slick stuff. This was actually recommended for our garden by a resident in the immediate area who had lived here longer than our 1 year (they actually recommended this last summer).

    Thanks again for all your responses .... I am getting very close to having to decide what to do here and I greatly appreciate your input.

  7. PSUturf

    PSUturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 663

    Depending on the particle size distribution of your current soil it could make the drainage better or worse. If you have bad drainage to begin with, it probably isn't going to hurt to till the sand in.
  8. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    In a nutshell...I'd till it in also. :)
  9. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    The "slick stuff" is silt. More than likely, your drainage will improve if you incorporate some sand. You will be increasing the average size of particles instead of decreasing it.
  10. cjcocn

    cjcocn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Thanks guys.

    I am taking a few days off from yard work as I am heading into the city on business and plan to look up a few bookstores for some relative reading material. As I learn more about this I will get much better at explaining my questions and using the correct terms.

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