What Is Horticultural Sand?

Horticulture sand is a type of soil made from crushed rock or gravel. It’s used mainly for landscaping purposes, but it can also be used in your home for various reasons. There are several types of horticultural sand available today.

Some are better than others, so which one do you need?

Let’s take a look at some of them!

Westland Horticultural Sand (WHS)

The Westland brand is probably the most well known brand of horticultural sand. They have been around since 1884, and they’ve always had a good reputation. Their products are widely available in stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Wescott Company was founded in 1890 by William Wescott, a farmer from New Hampshire.

His company started making their own fertilizer using limestone mined nearby, called “wescot.”

In 1903, the company began producing its own fertilizer with limestone sourced from the surrounding area. By 1907, Wescott Company was selling their product in over 200 stores across America. They were also manufacturing their own fertilizers and pesticides under different names such as “Garden Weed Killer” and “Deworming Spray.” The company eventually went bankrupt in 1919 due to high costs of production.

Many employees lost their jobs when the factory closed down.

In 1981, a local farmer purchased the Westcott Company and re-opened the factory. It still operates to this day. The company uses limestone, vermiculite, and water in their fertilizer mixing process. They sell three kinds of horticultural sand; regular, organic-compliant, and specialty sand for cactus and succulents.

A forty-pound bag of their horticultural sand sells for around $4.97.

Scotts Lawn Builder Sand

What Is Horticultural Sand: How To Use Sand For Plants - igrowplants.net

The Scotts Company merged with grass seed company Miracle-Gro in 1995. The company also owns several popular lawn and garden brands including Topsy Turf, Evergreen, and Johnson Grass. In addition to horticultural sand, they sell a variety of other lawn and garden products. The brand is best known for their Miracle-Gro plant food products.

They also make a wide variety of lawn and garden tools.

The Scotts brand offers three different types of horticultural sand: regular, organic compliant, and specialty. Their regular horticultural sand contains small pebbles. The organic-compliant horticultural sand does not contain those pebbles, so you can use it in your organic garden.

Their specialty sand has larger pebbles and includes lava rock. It is targeted towards people who grow cacti and succulents. A forty-pound bag of their horticultural sand sells for between $3 and $5 depending on the type.

Horticultural Sand vs. Construction Sand

A lot of people are wondering if they can use construction sand instead of horticultural sand in their gardens or growing containers. After all, it’s a lot cheaper since you can find it at places like Home Depot. Unfortunately, you really shouldn’t use it. Most construction sand contains a lot of small pebbles and rocks that can damage your growing containers.

It’s also too coarse to properly absorb water.

Some people have been experimenting with ways to clean construction sand in order to make it suitable for container gardens. Soaking the sand in water before use is one method. Washing it in a tumbling machine is another. Horticultural sand sold for potting soil and containers has already been properly washed and sterilized so you don’t have to worry about that.

Which Should You Buy: Wescott or Scotts?

The Wescott Company has been around since 1884, so they have a long history of making horticultural and gardening products. While their parent company is Philippine-based, the Wescott Division still manufactures their products in the United States. Their sand goes through a more rigorous process to ensure quality.

The Scotts Company has been in business since 1868, but they became a billion dollar company through recent mergers and acquisitions. The Scotts Lawn Care Division is currently a subsidiary of the Koch Industries family. Their sand is good quality, but it does have small pebbles mixed in with the sand.

Both companies offer horticultural sand for use in a variety of gardening and container applications. You can buy it in bulk by the bag or in containers. The Scotts product tends to be cheaper when you buy in larger quantities.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend buying horticultural sand from Wescott. The quality is still good and you won’t have to worry about finding pebbles in your planting mix later on.

Note: Always refer to the product label for complete directions, recommendations, and warnings before use. Image credits: David Castor, Rob Hainer, and Steve Mason (Creative Commons).

Sources & references used in this article:

Sand and water culture methods used in the study of plant nutrition. by EJ Hewitt – Sand and water culture methods used in the study of …, 1952 – cabdirect.org

Dynamics of water and nutrients in closed, recirculating cropping systems in glasshouse horticulture: with special attention to lettuce grown in irrigated sand … by M Heinen – 1997 – library.wur.nl

Methods of constructing a pine tree substrate from various wood particle sizes, organic amendments, and sand for desired physical properties and plant … by BE Jackson, RD Wright, MC Barnes – HortScience, 2010 – journals.ashs.org

Guidelines for the collection of statistics on the usage of plant protection products within agriculture & horticulture by MR Thomas, S Hutton – … , Central Science Laboratory, Sand …, 2000 – secure.fera.defra.gov.uk

Peat: Dominating growing medium in Swedish horticulture by C Bohlin, P Holmberg – … on Growing Media and Hydroponics 644, 2001 – actahort.org

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