How to deal with unsightly, lawn-smothering sand build up in your New Mexico landscape
The recent howling winds in New Mexico not only increase fire danger, topple trees and aggravate our allergies, they also bring lots of dirt and sand into our fragile landscapes. In the Albuquerque area, there are many construction sites that contribute to the sand problem. The build up of sand makes our landscapes look ugly and unkempt. It is important that we remove blow sand from around plants and trees because all that extra dirt can smother them. Sand build up on lawns will affect sprinkler coverage and cause undue stress on the grass. So what do we do?
Protecting your landscape from sand build up
Silt fence is common on construction sites. It is designed to minimize the amount of soil that leaves the construction site from wind or water erosion. Many states and municipalities require construction sites to mitigate dust that results from dirt work. If you live near a construction site that produces a lot of dust you should ask the developer to install sand fencing if they have not already done so. Even then, you may have to install sand fencing around your own yard as a temporary measure until construction is finished. We have installed mile upon mile of silt fencing and can help you.
Removing sand from lawns
Sand in lawns stresses the grass and over time reduces the efficiency of your irrigation system. The key to preventing sand build up on lawn areas is to remove it as soon as possible. You can rake or even sweep off the sand from the lawn in many cases. A high pressure hose or power washer can be used to wash out build up. In cases where sand has built up over time and the grass has grown up through the dirt, it may be necessary to remove the grass with a sod cutter, regrade the area and re-install the lawn. If you opt not to do anything, make sure that you raise your sprinkler heads so that irrigation coverage is not affected. Sand can be siphoned back into the irrigation system by low lying heads, clogging sprinklers.
Removing sand from gravel mulch beds
Blowing sand in graveled areas increases weed problems, suffocates plantings and can infiltrate drip irrigation systems rendering them useless. At the very least, you should shovel away the sand from around trees and plants so that they don’t die. Also check the drip system to make sure it is not plugged up with sand.
Power washing or using a high pressure hose is an option that homeowners can use to remove sand from graveled areas. Often, however, the sand will be washed into the gravel, leaving behind a layer of dirt that weeds love. A better solution is to sift the gravel and physically remove all the sand. Depending on the size of the gravel, a home made screener, using a wooden frame and some type of wire mesh, will produce adequate results. This is very time consuming and labor intensive.
If the job is too big for the do-it-yourself approach, it may advisable to hire a landscape company to clean your gravel. Because of the time and labor involved, there may be a point where the cost of screening the gravel and the cost of removing the gravel and starting fresh may be the same or cheaper. Areas with smaller gravel, such as crusher fines or gravel chips will need to be replaced as they cannot be screened. For larger areas we have an industrial sand screener that can be loaded with a tractor. Call us for pricing.
Removing sand from your landscapes will help to protect your plantings and lawns from future problems. If possible, protect your landscape with silt fencing. Remove sand from your landscape as soon as possible to prevent build up. If the job is too big for you, consider hiring a landscape contractor. Let us know how we can help.