The plain fact- sandy soil has the poorest nutritional content of all soils, so how do we make it work for us?
Other characteristics are that it holds water for a shorter amount of time, drying out quicker.
All is not lost. Nutrients are important for the optimum growth of our plants, but the greatest benefit that sandy soil has is that it contains more air space inside it, more than any other soils. Plants that are used to these types of soils can grow rapidly in sandy soil. Also with a bit of TLC you can provide a good environment for plants like hibiscus that need a little more than fresh air and sunshine.
Over time with this TLC you can turn your soil into something that doesn’t need as much TLC, but that will take a little bit of time.
So where do we start?
The poorest of all sandy soils is right by the sea where it contains more sea salt. This salt is not toxic to plants, but they certainly don’t need it in any amount.
As I suggested plants like Grevilleas, gazanias, and those related to New Zealand Christmas bush, Metrosideros species, don’t need anything extra to survive, and even tolerate the summer dry spells.
The easiest solution is to mulch the surface area, which to make it worthwhile, I would put 60mm thick . A medium mulch like tea-tree or cypress mulch would be the choices. These initially will protect the soil surface from drying out, and over 6 months breakdown and put the nutrients into the soil. If your serious about improving your garden soil, every six months in optimum, or 1 year at the least otherwise you’re not going to achieve much results.
The second solution is to put compost on the surface. Again 60mm is the optimum. I recently did this method to a beachside garden, and combined with regular irrigation, the garden looks better than ever. My favourite compost is mushroom compost, the results you receive from it’s use will let you know why.
If you really must add premium soil to the surface, just remember that clays and sand don’t mix. They only mix when you can combine them with some compost material. Leaves, manure, home compost, ash are all good for this purpose. What happens when you put clay on top of sand, is that the water won’t penetrate fast through the top layer of soil, in wet times can cause drainage problems, then dissapear faster through the lower part.
If you keep up this over at least a 2 year period you will at least see a result that will make sandy soil work for your garden.
A few hints for the sandy soil on the Gold Coast: soil close to canals can contain sludge from the bottom
of the swamp it was dredged from. This soil is more impenetrable for water than others and can be waterlogged and unusable it times of heavy rain.
Many blocks in canal areas can have fill placed on them prior to house developement. This fill can sometimes can rock or roadbase that again is impenetrable in times of extra heavy rain,
and low points can accumulate with water and not get way fast enough. It is sometimes necessary to dig a hole through this at the lowest point and place a 1m deep sump drain to get rid of excess water in extra heavy rainfall periods.