Will sand stop weeds from growing?

Many homeowners use different methods to stop weed growth. For example, some use pre-emergent herbicides to kill the weed seeds.

Others opt to till the land, mulch the beds, grow grass or plants close together, plant a cover, or create a drought by depriving open areas in a garden or yard of water.

Furthermore, you will find homeowners covering their yards with rocks or sand. But will sand stop weeds from growing?

Weeds can grow anywhere. They grow in spaces between rocks, concrete, and even fine soil. But one common misconception is that weeds cannot grow in sand.

Even if you cover your entire yard with sand, weeds will take over the area if you do not deal with them appropriately.

However, the difference is that sand soil does not have enough nutrients and water retaining properties to offer a conducive environment for plants, including weeds, to prosper.

Will weeds grow through sand?

Not all weeds can grow through the sand. Examples of weeds that can grow through sand include rosemary, succulents, pigweed, and common beggar’s-tick.

Many weeds cannot grow through the sand because of the following reasons:

  • Sand does not retain water.
  • Sandy soil lacks the nutrients needed for weed growth.
  • Sand lacks living microbes.
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If you find weeds growing in sand soil despite lacking the right growth conditions, it is because the weeds have already adapted to those environmental conditions.

How to stop weeds from growing using sand

You can still stop weeds from growing using sand. Here are some methods to consider.

1. Solarization of sand

Solarization
Photo: UC IPM Urban Program

Solarizing a large area of sand can help prevent weeds from growing. Here are the steps to take:

  • Wait for the summer months when the temperatures are hot.
  • Use a lawn mower for scalping the area.
  • Loosen the sand using a hoe or any gardening tool.
  • Water the ground thoroughly.
  • Cover the ground using clear polythene or plastic sheeting.
  • Weigh down the plastic using rocks.

Solarization will increase soil temperature and weaken or kill soil-borne plant pathogens. This eliminates any nutrients that might have aided the growth of weeds.

2. Use polymeric sand

Most homes with concrete paving bricks have joints between the bricks.

The joints have fine sand filled in to:

  • Keep the interlocking pattern
  • Prevent the movement of pavers
  • Stop water from washing away the base layer
  • Prevent weeds from growing between the pavers.

But weeds grow between the joints over time, forcing homeowners to clean them.

However, that also resulted in the sand washing away and creating a suitable environment for even more weed growth.

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The solution to this problem is to use polymeric sand to prevent weeds from growing.

Polymeric sand uses different colored sand grains, chemical binders, and glues. When water comes into contact with the sand, it activates the materials. With time, the polymers in the sand dry and cure.

Polymeric sand

As a result, the sand between the brick joints hardens and cements the pavers, preventing weeds from growing between the joints. Here is how to use it.

  • Allow the pavers to dry and clean their surface.
  • Pour the polymeric sand between the brick joints.
  • Distribute the sand evenly to maintain consistency.
  • Use a hard bristle broom to sweep the sand into the joints.
  • Use the plate compactor to vibrate the sand further down into the joints.
  • Repeat the sweep and vibrate steps to ensure the sand fills the joints.
  • Sweep away any remaining sand.
  • Water the surface to activate the polymers in the sand.

The final step is to dry clean the surface to remove any residues.

3. Use sand with weed killer

Some paving sands come coated in weed-killer minerals.

The minerals in the sand have a high pH value that helps prevent the re-growth of weeds.

4. Use sealing pavers

sealing paver
Image by: Flickr/ACME

While you can use sand for pavers to prevent weeds, an alternative method is to go for sealing pavers. Paving sealers are treatments that create waterproof barriers on paving surfaces.

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The sealant stops the transfer of moisture or absorption of water to the ground. Since there will be no moisture or water, the paving stones will remain dry and will not allow any weeds to grow.

Conclusion

Sand does not always stop weeds from growing. However, sand does not have enough nutrients and water retaining properties to allow most weeds to grow.

But you can also prevent weeds from growing through sand using sealing pavers, sand with weed killer, polymeric sand, or solarizing the soil.

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