How to Clean a Sand Yard

There’s more to your lawn than just the grass you grow there. It is why top-dressing your lawn is an integral part of lawn care.

If you have a bumpy lawn or it’s littered with holes, then top dressing is usually the right solution. However, there are many reasons why you’d want to use sand over other types of top dressing.

Reasons for using sand on your lawn.

  • Even out the lawn: This is one of the most obvious reasons to use sand for top dressing. An uneven lawn not only looks bad but doesn’t encourage the turfgrass to grow evenly—water pools in the low areas When you water sand. So you cover those areas with sand to level out the lawn.
  • Fix holes: Often, you’ll find holes in your lawn that need fixing. If the hole is about 2 inches deep, you can quickly remedy it with sand. First, you’ll need to raise the turfgrass in that area using a shovel. Then apply a thick layer of sand to fill up the hole. Finally, place the grass back and water the spot to help the sand settle.
  • Prevent thatch: Depending on the type of turfgrass you have on your lawn and the amount of care and maintenance you provide, thatch might crop up and attach itself to the pets’ hide and even your clothes. Apply sand to prevent the growth of thatch. 

Remember to fertilize the lawn before you apply the top dressing. It allows the grass to grow strong and handle the change in the soil after the sand gets used. Some people like to fertilize the lawn after applying sand. But that puts the grass under a lot of stress especially if you fix too many holes or even out too many patches.

Methods of Cleaning Sand.

Raking the Sand.

A fine-tooth rake can be an excellent tool for cleaning yard sand and removing any larger debris. It is when doing it by hand. 

An easy way is to move all of the sand to one side of your play area then start raking it all back to one side, removing any debris you collect along the way.

After you get done, just smooth it back out. It is a great way to maintain your yard sand and keep it free of foreign objects and debris.

You can also use a sand raking machine. Raking technology gets used on the dry or wet sand. When using this method, a rotating conveyor belt containing hundreds of offset tines combs through the sand and removes surface and buried debris while leaving the sand on the beach. Raking machines can remove materials ranging in size from small pebbles, shards of glass, and cigarette butts to larger debris, like seaweed and driftwood. Racing machines can travel at high speeds by keeping the sand on the beach and only lifting the debris.

Sifting the Sand

Sifting the sand is a sure-fire way to get any and all foreign objects and debris out. Homemade sand sifters typically comprise wood and screen mesh. It is a project that can efficiently be completed within an hour. When using manual means. The size of the sifter will depend upon how large of an area of sand you would like to explore at one time. Larger or smaller screens will simply require reducing or enlarging the wood and screen sizes.

By use of sifting technology. It gets used on dry sand and soft surfaces. The sand and waste are collected via the pick-up blade of the vehicle onto a vibrating screening belt, which leaves the sand behind. The waste is gathered in a collecting tray which is often situated at the back of the vehicle. Because sand and waste are lifted onto the screening belt, sifters must allow time for the sand to sift through the screen and back onto the beach. The size of the materials removed is governed by the size of the holes in the installed screen.

A more practical way to do this is with a large sand sieve (Sand Sifter). If you want to keep your yard sand clean or clean up a large amount of sand without replacing it all, then this is the way to go.

A sand sieve is an inexpensive tool that is a must for anyone who has a sandpit. You can get these plastic sand sifters for cheap on Amazon. It’s also an easy tool to make yourself. Here’s a YouTube video that explains the process well.

Sanitizing Your Sand Yard

Sanitizing your sand yard and keeping it free of harmful bacteria and fungus is essential, especially if your yard area doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight and/or retains a lot of moisture.

Mold, fungus, mildew, and bacteria can all grow in your yard sand, and to help prevent this potentially harmful growth from occurring, it is vital to allow your yard sand to dry out.

If the bottom layer of your sand yard stays wet (moist is normal), then rake or shovel the bottom layer to the top, allowing it to dry, and consider getting a cover to keep the rain along with other hazards out (I talk more about this later).

A mold called Rhizopus Stolonifer (black bread mold) is notorious for growing in sand yards and is one of the most common fungi in the world. Most commonly found on the surfaces of bread and fruit, this mold usually starts out green or black in color before turning a fluffy gray with black spots.

Chances are you’ve seen this mold-growing food that has gotten left out along with overripe fruit. This mold can be especially dangerous to people with a weakened immune system and can cause a disease named Zygomycosis, which can be fatal.

Rhizopus Stolonifer appears in yard sand, most often from animal and bird feces.

How To Sanitize yard Sand With White Vinegar

White distilled vinegar has been shown to kill 82% of all fungus and will work to kill the fungus on your yard sand.

1. Mix 1 part white distilled vinegar to 1 part water in a pump sprayer.

2. Soak down the top of your yard and then come through with a rake to mix it around. Repeat the process two or three times, letting the vinegar solution remain on top the final time.

3. After this dries (usually an hour or so, depending on sunlight), rake your sand yard again to ensure proper drying.

It will not only eliminate the mold but will keep cats and other animals out of your sand yard.

Are you worried about the smell? If you are concerned about the strong smell of vinegar, don’t worry, the scent will dissipate naturally when the solution dries. Also, you can add an essential oil (lavender and citrus work well) to the vinegar/water mix to help neutralize the smell.

Also, adding cinnamon to your yard sand after this process will help eliminate the vinegar smell and help keep bugs out (which we’ll cover move in depth later).

Dealing with the short-lived smell of vinegar is well worth the benefits. A 3-gallon pump sprayer on Amazon is very affordable.

This method is a great all-natural way to not only rid your yard sand of mold and fungus but serves a double purpose as it will keep cats out of your yard sand, whose feces can be the main spreaders of the Rhizopus Stolonifer fungus along with other harmful bacteria.

How To Sanitize yard Sand With Bleach

Bleach will kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria, making this method the most effective. Of course, this is not a “natural method,” but for those with extremely dirty sand yards, this can be the best method, second to replacing all of the sand.

If you just purchased a house with an “abandoned” sand yard or your sand yard has been neglected for quite some time, this is an alternative to replacing all of the sand.

1. First, make sure to rake out any large debris and feces. Then, consider sifting the sand (see “Cleaning Your yard Sand” above) and allow it to dry.

2. Mix 1 part bleach to 1 part water in a spray pump.

3. Soak the top layer, then rake or shovel to mix in.

4. Repeat this process at least two times. Four get recommended.

Let the bleach solution remain on top until dry (usually about an hour). After this process, rake and shove the sand to ensure all of it is dry.

Allow a few days for the sand to completely dry out before allowing anyone to play in it. Then, follow through with the methods I list below for Keeping Bugs Out and Keeping Your yard Sand Clean and Safe to ensure you maintain a safe and clean yard area.

Keep Bugs Out Of Your yard Sand.

Insects such as fleas, ticks, and worms are common trespassers in yard sand. They can carry disease and can make your sand yard uninhabitable for you and your children.

Parasitic worms can also pose a serious threat and most often come from animal and bird feces.

Cinnamon Method.

How To Keep Bugs Out Of yard Sand With Cinnamon

The Cinnamon method is very popular, and for a good reason. It gets recommended to spread about a pound of ground cinnamon (for a 6-foot squared to 9-foot squared sand yard) into your yard sand and rake it in to mix.

Cinnamon is a natural and safe insect repellent and will make your sand yard smell great. It is especially advised to use cinnamon if you’re having mold issues and use the vinegar method I mentioned above to kill the mold.

The bottom line is that cinnamon really is an excellent natural insect repellent and very inexpensive! A 1-pound bag of organic cinnamon on Amazon (pictured below) is very affordable, making it well worth it.

Diatomaceous Earth Method.

How To Keep Bugs Out Of Sand yard  With DE

Diatomaceous Earth is the ground-up, fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called Diatoms. The diatom’s skeleton gets made of the natural substance Silica.

Spreading the powder around the parameter of your sand yard will naturally kill bugs and insects of all kinds. Diatomaceous Earth is not toxic or harmful to humans and pets unless inhaled. That is why It is recommended to put this natural substance around the parameter of your sand yard and not in the sand.

Diatomaceous Earth is used in 1,000s of products, including pesticides, skincare products, toothpaste, foods, beverages, and lots more.

This natural substance will kill cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, ticks, spiders, ants, and many more.

It is often advertised as “the insect replant you can eat“, and we do eat it because most grains and raw foods which are stored have Diatomaceous Earth mixed in to keep the insects out.

It’s an inexpensive, safe product that has many other uses, you can get a 10-pound food-grade bag of Diatomaceous Earth

Keep the following tips in mind to maintain your clean sandy yard:

Keep your sand fresh by removing debris through raking regularly. It will also create an unfriendly environment for insects and fungus and also help the sand to dry

Cover the sand yard when not in use. They make covers specifically for sandboxes that have a drawstring to secure the tarp over the parameter of the sandbox and are available in a few different sizes. Make sure the cover is tight so as not to blow off but allows for airflow so as not to grow mold. A waterproof cover will keep the sand dry. If the sand does get wet, allow drying entirely in the sun before covering again.

Perform a routine check of dirt weekly to make sure there is no debris. Remove any dirt or debris when possible.

Repel Insects Naturally. Use the methods mentioned above to keep harmful and potentially disease-carrying insects out of your playground sand. Even the best tarp or cover will not keep these tiny creatures out.