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

Updated July 20, 2017

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.


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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About the Author

Becca Badgett began writing professionally in 1982. She has been published in “Accent West” magazine and the “Texhoma Argus” newspaper. Badgett also has written for The Huffington Post, Target and Mapquest. She holds an Associate of Arts in broadcast journalism from Amarillo College.