Save water with sand beds

sand beds
sand beds

Parents of small children know the phenomenon: It hasn’t rained in a long time and the sand in the sandbox looks super dry – but if you start digging, you quickly come across an amazingly moist layer.  This can also be used wonderfully for flower beds in the garden.

Fitness training for plants

Sand is a great plant trainer. If planted in a thick layer of sand, the plants have to stretch their roots very far down in search of water and nutrients. This opens up a large area. And since above-ground plant growth depends, among other things, on the root volume, the plants develop accordingly well.

Weed seeds, on the other hand, need much longer to penetrate the fertile soil due to the thick layer of sand. And when they have finally made it, they lack sunlight, because in the meantime the planted perennials have long since established themselves and form a closed plant cover. So weeds have a hard time, because even if they find a gap, they can easily be pulled out.

Casting a bed of sand also makes it easy. You only have to water until the plants have worked their way through the sand layer and rooted themselves in the earth, after which it is often not necessary at all. Tip: Plant calmly in early autumn, because from September the precipitation usually increases and the plants still have enough time to settle down before winter.

Finally, late winter is the only time when sand gardeners are actually allowed to develop something resembling activity: it is necessary to cut back some things and remove fallen leaves and other dead plant parts so that a fertile layer of humus does not form on the sand.

Which plants are suitable?

Spring aspects: Between pink carnations and cowslips, purple bugle and golden cinquefoil, tall perennials such as mullein and noble thistles prepare for summer. The numerous thyme cushions will then unfold their full effect.

Light and friendly: Light varieties of false coneflowers (Echinacea) and raptors (Liatris) as well as numerous grasses make the planting look light and airy. The effect of a coarser grain of sand is also clearly visible: coarser material is deposited on the surface and forms its own design element. Part of the area was deliberately left unplanted to encourage ground-nesting wild bees.

Sea spirit: In addition to grasses and a dwarf pine, steppe spurge (Euphorbia seguieriana ssp. niciciana), mountain asters (Aster amellus) of the ‘Violet Queen’ variety, Argentine vervain (Verbena bonariensis) and goldenhair Asters (A. linosyris).

Desired dynamics: In modern planting planning, self-seeding plants play a major role. Perennial flax (Linum perenne, photo seedlings) and other attractive hikers will find optimal conditions in sandy beds.

pile up sand

So that the sand stays where it should be, a border is recommended, especially for smaller beds. The sods do not have to be removed, they rot over time and serve as fertilizer.


If enough sand has been piled up – at least 15 cm high, since the sand is still settling – the surface is smoothed out. The back of the rake is very suitable for this.


Distribute the perennials in the bed and plant directly in the sand layer. Small plant sizes are sufficient, the perennials develop quickly in the sandy bed.


In the first few weeks after planting, it must be watered thoroughly again and again until the plants have rooted themselves through the layer of sand into the soil.

From the moon to the dream landscape

This is what a recently completed area laid out as a bed of sand can look like … and this is what two years later.