Plants for Sandy Soils

Banksia ericifolia - Heath Banksia

Banksia ericifolia – Heath Banksia

Sandy soil is comprised of minuscule pieces of rock .05 to 2 mm in diameter and has a gritty texture to it. Sandy soils have poor water holding and nutrient retention. Traditional gardens grown on sandy soils require regular watering and fertilising which can be time consuming, expensive, and unsustainable.

It is far better to choose plants that grow naturally in sandy soils, as they generally have adaptations that allow them to grow sustainably in them. Adaptations include root nodules that create nutrients and make use of available water in the soil more efficiently. Many Australian Native trees and shrubs thrive in sandy soils. Species such as Grevilleas, Acacias, Banksias, and many others are good examples of this and are perfect for use in low fertility sandy soils.

When gardening in sandy soils it is best to use organic mulches in abundance to create healthy biologically active soils to minimise water usage and to kick start the nutrient cycle. Avoid using artificial fertilisers which can kill soil bacteria and interfere with the process.

Regular pruning can also be implemented to reduce water and nutrient use of the plants. Keeping them small reduces the water and nutrients required to maintain them.

Melaleuca hypericifolia - Hillock Bush

Melaleuca hypericifolia – Hillock Bush

Timely and strategically implemented watering programmes mimicking irregular rainfall patterns are far more beneficial to these specialised plants rather than regular waterings as they can interfere with soil microorganisms that contribute to the nutrient cycle.

The table below contains species that do well in sandy soils.

Botanical NameCommon NameFormHeight
Acacia binervataTwo-veined HickoryTree or shrub5.0m - 15.0m
Acacia decurrensEarly Black WattleTree or shrub2.0m - 10.0m
Acacia fimbriataFringed WattleTree or Shrub7.0m
Acacia floribundaGossamer WattleTree or shrub3.0m - 8.0m
Acacia implexaLightwoodTree5.0m - 12.0m
Acacia longifoliaSydney Golden WattleTree or shrub8.0m
Acacia mearnsiBlack WattleTree6.0m - 15.0m
Acacia myrtifoliaMyrtle WattleShrub2.0m
Acacia parramattensisParramatta WattleTree15.0m
Acacia pravissimaOvens WattlerTree or shrub6.0m
Acacia rubidaRed Stemmed WattleTree or shrub5.0m
Acacia suaveolensSweet WattleShrub3.0m
Acacia terminalisSunshine WattleTree or shrub6.0m
Acacia vestitaHairy WattleShrub3.0m
Actinotus helianthiFlannel FlowerHerb0.3m - 0.9m
Allocasuarina littoralisBlack She-oakTree5.0m - 12.0m
Allocasuarina torulosaForest SheoakTree8.0m - 15.0m
Angophora costataSmooth-Barked AppleTree15.0m - 25.0m
Angophora floribundaRough-Barked AppleTree30.0m
Anigozanthos sppKangaroo PawTufting Plant2.0m
Baeckea virgataTall BaekeaShrub3.0m
Banksia speciesBanksiaTree or Shrub2.0m - 15.0m
Bauera rubioidesDog RoseShrub2.0m
Boronia speciesBoroniaShrub2.0m
Brachychiton populneusKurrajongTree20.0m
Bursaria spinosaSweet BursariaShrub2.0m - 6.0m
Callistemon speciesBottlebrushTree or shrub1.0m - 15.0m
Casuarina cunninghamianaRiver SheoakTree15.0m - 35.0m
Casuarina glaucaSwamp SheoakTree8.0m - 20.0m
Correa speciesNative FuschiaShrub0.3m - 1.5m
Corymbia maculataSpotted GumTree45.0m
Dianella speciesFlax LilyGrass0.1m - 1.0m
Eucalyptus agglomerataBlue Leaved StringbarkTree40.0m
Eucalyptus dealbataTumbledown Red GumTree15.0m
Eucalyptus globoideaWhite StringybarkTree30.0m
Eucalyptus gregsonianaDwarf Snow GumTree5.0m
Eucalyptus macarthuriiPaddys River BoxTree45.0m
Eucalyptus mannifera. s. maculosaRed Spotted GumTree15.0m
Eucalyptus piperitaSydney PeppermintTree20.0m
Eucalyptus punctataGrey GumTree30.0m
Eucalyptus rubidaCandle Bark GumTree40.0m
Eucalyptus schlerophyllaScribbly GumTree20.0m
Eucalyptus sieberiSilver Top AshTree30.0m
Grevillea speciesGrevilleaShrub0.1m - 6.0m
Hakea dactyloidesFinger HakeaShrub1.0m - 3.0m
Hakea salicifoliaWillow Leaf HakeaTree or shrub5.0m - 8.0m
Hakea sericeaSilky HakeaShrub1.0m - 3.0m
Hardenbergia violaceaNative SarsaparillaShrub or climber0.3m - 2.0m
Indigophera australisAustralian IndigoShrub2.0m
Kunzea ambiguaWhite KunzeaShrub3.0m
Leptospermum speciesTea-treeTree or shrub1.0m - 4.0m
Melaleuca speciesPaperbarkTree or shrub1.0m - 20.0m
Melia azedarachWhite CedarTree7.0m - 12.0m
Philotheca myoporoidesNative DaphneShrub2.0m
Thryptomene F.C. PaynePayne's ThryptomeneShrub1.0m
Westringia speciesNative RosmaryShrub1.0m - 2.0m