What plants will grow in sand?

By Jackie DavisJackie Davis

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The Question

We have a flat, sandy lot at the cottage. Is there any vegetation that will grow in very sandy soil? I’d love to see my vacuum bag empty of the pounds and pounds of sand being tracked inside.
—Cheryl Rowan, via e-mail

The Answer

That much sand can’t be good for the vacuum. And that much vacuuming can’t be good for your tan! But don’t worry: Lots of vegetation will grow in sand. First, do some recon. “Look to see what’s growing well in the natural areas around your cottage,” says Lorraine Johnson, author of 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants. In general, for exposed sandy areas that get a lot of sun, she recommends a spreading ground cover, such as juniper, native wild strawberry, pearly everlasting, or prairie smoke. These plants should all help hold the sand in place.

Also, check with a local native-plant nursery. Karen Landman, an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Guelph, suggests Grand Moraine Growers in Alma, Ont., which has an online catalogue that lists plants suitable for many types of soil conditions, habitats, or purposes.

Unfortunately, ground cover isn’t great to walk on, says Johnson, so also consider installing a boardwalk or a path with concrete pads or flagstones.

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Jackie Davis