Which Is Best for Garden Drainage: Sand, Soil or Bark?

Written by becca badgett
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Which Is Best for Garden Drainage: Sand, Soil or Bark?
Clay soil often needs amendments for good drainage. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Compacted soil makes proper garden drainage difficult. Amendments to increase drainage can be added in varying amounts. The kind of amendment used, such as sand, soil or bark, depends on the area where drainage is needed and existing soil. The source of compaction must be addressed for a permanent solution.

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Sand is effective in limited amendment situations. It neither holds nutrients nor effectively amends clay soil.


Purchase soil and work into the compacted area, after deep tilling. If erosion is the problem, new soil may gradually wash away again. Strive to amend for the soil that will serve your needs.


Bark and other organic amendments are most effective in the most soils. Bark breaks down slowly, having both nutrient-holding and drainage abilities. Some bark may affect the soil's nitrogen capabilities.

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