Black Locust Tree in a Sandy Soil Backyard

The 10 Best Trees That Grow in Sand

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Considering the low nutrient content and overall porousness of sandy soils, many gardeners can struggle to grow plants in them. Whether we’re talking about vegetables, shrubs, or trees, sandy soils provide a fairly inhospitable substrate. Only certain plants that formed proper adaptations to dry soil can be successfully grown in sandy soil. The biggest obstacle is the way this type of soil fails to retain moisture. It’s a critical aspect when it comes to the healthy development of any plant.

The quick drainage might impede the growth of certain trees but others can actually prefer drier soils like this. However, that’s not the only problem that you need to deal with. Sandy soil is typically deficient in key nutrients required for growing plants. The high sand content is essentially unable to bind necessary nutrients from the deeper layers of the soil. Without a supply of organic matter, it will be tough to grow even drought-resistant trees.

If you have sandy soil in your yard, consider the following tree species that manage to grow successfully in the conditions provided by this type of soil:

1. Ginkgo

A beautiful tree with a rich history, Ginkgo represents a solid choice for growing in sandy soil. It’s able to grow in areas affected by drought and boasts a long lifespan. While it takes some time to mature, the Ginkgo tree will reward you with an ornamental canopy that provides a comfortable level of shade. The fan-shaped style of the leaves adds to the overall beauty of this tree. It’s recommended to plant it in full sun where it can go to a maximum height of 50 feet.

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus Tree

Eucalyptus trees are adept survivors that can thrive in porous soils with high sand content. Unless you choose a specific species that grows more slowly, a eucalyptus tree tends to grow pretty fast, especially when grown far from its native range where conditions are more favorable. There are many great reasons to consider growing a eucalyptus tree. It’s appreciated for the colorful bark and aromatic leaves. Thanks to being an evergreen, this tree maintains solid visual interest for longer.

3. Red Cedar

Red Cedar Tree

The red cedar is an evergreen tree that grows slowly and densely. It might struggle a bit in sandy soils with poor nutrient quality but it still survives. Red cedar trees are able to grow successfully in damaged biomes because they can tolerate poor soils. They don’t require a lot of water so that might be the secret to withstanding dry types of soil. You will often see red cedars in their natural habitat along the edges of woodlands, pastures, and prairies. The production of juniper berries can be considered an advantage because the tree might attract birds to your backyard.

4. Black Locust

Black Locust Tree

If you’re searching for a very low-maintenance tree that’s not fussy about soil conditions, the black locus should be among your top options. It’s known for being able to tolerate drought and nutrient-deficient soils making the tree ideal for sandy soils. The only drawback to consider is the tree’s tendency to self-seed and spread really fast. Black locusts produce attractive flowers around the beginning of the summer. They can attract beneficial insects to your garden, such as bees.

5. Northern Red Oak

Northern Red Oak Tree

A robust species, the northern red oak grows very tall and can live for a few hundred years. The tree can easily tolerate all kinds of soil conditions, including sandy substrates. It features a deep taproot system that allows the tree to grow better in porous soils. Northern red oaks can handle periods of drought without problems. When it comes to notable features, the bark of this tree stands out. It has beautiful ridges that make a stunning impression together with the leaves that feature tapering lobes.

6. White Pine

White Pine Tree

Considering its decent dryness tolerance, white pine could be a good candidate for growing in sandy soils. It’s a fairly fast grower that enjoys good drainage. White pines can grow successfully in either hardwood or mixed forests. The tree is appreciated in the US for its ability to support wild animals by offering a habitat and food source. White pines show off some great ornamental qualities making them suitable for gardens or sometimes as Christmas trees.

7. Silk Tree

Silk Tree

Sandy soil conditions might be intolerable for some trees but not for the silk tree. This beautiful ornamental tree doesn’t have high water needs and can thrive even in areas with hot summers. Silk trees are prized for their exotic flowers that appear in the summer. The blooms are extremely attractive to hummingbirds and bees. While the silk tree with its graceful canopy can become the centerpiece of the yard, it’s worth mentioning some potential drawbacks. This tree’s fast growth rate can make it an invasive species in some areas.

8. Crabapple

Crabapple Tree

Many crabapple species can do well in sandy soil. The tree is native to the Northern Hemisphere and thrives in well-draining soil conditions. If you’re primarily interested in an ornamental tree, it’s recommended to plant the southern crabapple because it features stunning pink blooms. The tree produces fruits as well but they’re too sour to eat raw. You can, however, make delicious jams and preserves. Make sure you choose a sunny spot in your yard if you wish to grow a crabapple.

9. Paper Birch

Paper Birch Tree

With its characteristic white bark, the paper birch tree is another great choice for sandy soil. It’s fairly tolerant of poor soil conditions but it’s not as drought resistant as others. As long as you don’t mind its short lifespan, the paper birch is an attractive addition to any yard. This tree doesn’t produce typical flowers but catkins which are clusters of blooms lacking in petals. They’re not the main highlight of the tree. It’s the peeling white bark that grabs all the attention.

10. Northern White Cedar

Northern White Cedar Tree

Regularly used as a hedge or screen tree, the northern white cedar can survive sandy soil conditions despite being naturally found in wet environments. The pyramid shape has an attractive look but the tree can be trimmed to a different style without too much effort. It grows with a narrow spread but can work nicely as a green accent in any yard. Northern white cedar trees are often planted in groups spread apart. They tend to have a rapid growth rate and lack fussy maintenance requirements.


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