If you live in an area where there is sandy soil, you may think that it will be impossible to grow any plants or have a garden. This is not true. There is a long list of plants that are native to sandy soils, or that can easily adapt to a sandy soil. It is also possible to modify your soil to be able to grow a greater variety of plants.
When soil has too much sand, that means the soil contains irregularly shaped, large bits of rock. Between these bits, large spaces of air form, and because of this, water drains from the soil quickly. When this happens, plants don't have much of an opportunity to absorb the water or the nutrients that the water washes away. With proper care, you will be able to grow a variety of plants easily in your sandy soil.
Step 1 - Don't Fight It
The easiest thing to do is to grow plants that are native to sandy soil. Some flowers do better in sandy soil than any other, like morning-glory, baby's breath, portulaca, annual phlox, and the California poppy. There is actually a long list of flowers that do well in sandy soil. A variety of ground cover and vines thrive in a sandy soil, including grape, several varieties of Juniper, stone-crop, sumac, trumpet vine, and American bitter-sweet. Shrubs include bush clover, blueberry high-bush, red choke-berry, Japanese rose, and mock orange. These are just partial lists. You can find many more varieties of each, including trees that grow well in sandy soil.
Step 2 - Modify the Soil
One way to improve sand soil is by adding 3 to 4 inches of organic matter to the soil. Organic matter is made up of partially decomposed plant life and soil organisms. It increases the soils ability to retain moisture and its ability to absorb and store nutrients. You can buy compost by the bag, or you can make your own by combining things like manure, yard waste (leaves and grass clippings), and household organic waste. Do not include any meat products to your compost. Organic material will need to be added to the soil every year. Usually about 2 inches every year after the first year of 3 to 4 inches. The addition of the organic material will promote growth of soil organisms that help covert the organic matter into vitamins and nutrients for the plants.
Step 3 - Protect Your Plants
Even if you have amended your soil, it is important to protect and nurture your plants. Use a thick mulch around your plants to protect them from heat and help them retain water. You can use many varieties of mulch, including leaves, wood chips, hay or straw, and bark. Water your plants well and check the soil around plants to make sure it is retaining the appropriate moisture. If it is drying out too quickly, you may need to add more organic matter.