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im planning on converting my old children's sandpit into a a succulent/cacti garden. It currently is full of nothing but sand. So how much soil should I mix in? Can our wet climate overwater them? And can a bad winter kill them off?
I assume that water does not collect in the old sandpit? And what kind of sand is in it?
If it made good sand castles then it may not be much use for growing anything in. Soft sand (good castle making stuff) twends to stick together in lumps. Sharp sand is what you need for drainage.
The first think you need to think of is drainage - lots and lots of it. Then lots of gravel. Succulents need gravel and grit rather than sand.
Not all succulents are frost hardy, and I don't know of any cacti that are (I may be wrong).
Whereabouts do you live - what's the climate like?
I'm in the Netherlands. The weather is similar to the south east of the uk. The sand is sharpish. It certainly doesn't have any problems growing weeds or grass.
The main thing I would worry about is frost. Most succulents will die if they are frosted.
Also they like free draining soil. If the sandpit is the usual sort, you will have to make drainage holes in the bottom.
I have succulents in large pots that I take in to a frost free place for the winter.
It really does depend on what you mean by succulents too. Sedums (and associated genera) are classed as succulents and many of them are as tough as old boots. Sempervivums are succulents and they too are toughies.
Ok, if the sand is sharp and the drainage is good, then I would add a non-peat compost or leaf mould and 5-7mm grit. Say about 1/3 sand/ 1/3 grit and the rest compost. Succulents do not need too much food.
I would avoid any thing with peat in it, not because of any 'green' issues with its use, but because the dreaded Vine weevil love peat. And the insectcicdes used to kill the grubs will kill the succulents.
Sterilised top soil would be ok if that is what you can get easily.
Sedums and sempervivums are hardy.
Agave, Aeonium, Echeveria are not hardy. Most cacti are not hardy.
Sand actually holds a lot of water - that is why you can build a sandcastle. If you want to try succulents then add about 75% pea gravel 10% sand and rest compost mixed with bark. You also need to build the site up as sand pits tend to be sunken. If you are going to try Cacti or Agave then a roof to stop winter rains and snow is necessary as their hardiness is directly related to how dry their soil is.
Ok thanks guys. I have another option. I could possibly turn it into a veggie garden But do I have to get rid of all the sand?
It depends on what you are thinking about growing,some veg would be happier in some sand/soil mix than.others.
Carrots and root veg wil grow in sand, very well.
And you would still have to address the drainage problem, if there is one.