All trees deserve the best conditions possible to grow and thrive. Trees provide food and shelter to humans and animals alike, while their root systems can improve drainage in the soil. The most important aspect for a tree is the medium it is grown in – the soil.
Trees will grow in all types of conditions and can adapt to the area that they are in. The best trees to grow in sandy soil conditions are:
- Northern Red Oak
- Northern White Cedar
- Eastern Red Cedar
- Eastern White Pine
- Silk Tree
- Paper Birch
Soil provides all the nutrients and minerals that trees need to live and grow. The tree roots use the soil as a base to anchor the growing tree – without soil, we would not have any magnificent trees! So, do trees need a specific type of soil to grow in, or will they grow well in any kind? Let’s find out!
8 Trees That Grow In Sandy Soil
Sandy or light soils are so-called because they are easy to plow and cultivate, but they are not fertile and are generally nutrient deficient. Sandy soils contain very little clay and dry out very quickly. The water holding capacity and nutrients of sandy areas can be improved with organic matter, but this can be extremely costly if you have a large sandy area to work with.
Instead of spending a fortune on improving the soil conditions, consider planting low-maintenance trees in sandy soil areas. Certain trees can survive periodic dry spells by producing deep root systems, which reduces the need for constant irrigation.
The following 8 trees will thrive in sandy soil and provide shade for those hot, sandy areas.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp)
The Eucalyptus tree is a native of Australia and grows well in any sandy area. The Eucalyptus has adapted to their growing place and can survive dry and nutrient-poor conditions as long as they are exposed to sufficient rainfall.
There are numerous Eucalyptus varieties, but all are fast-growing, evergreen shade trees. They can reach heights of 150 feet (45 Meters), so make sure that you have the available space before planting them!
Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)
The Ginkgo tree belongs to an ancient tree species and has a long history. The Ginko originated from the far East and was introduced into Europe around 1690. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 3 – 8 but is a slow grower.
Depending on the cultivar type, this tree is often used as an ornamental or shade tree with fan-shaped, umbrella-shaped, or columnar leaves. A Ginkgo tree can grow to a height of 50 feet (15 meters) with a spread of 35 feet (10 meters). The fan-shaped leaves are green throughout the summer and turn a shade of saffron yellow in the fall.
The Ginkgo tree is drought-resistant and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. With proper maintenance, these trees can survive for many years, even in the full sun!
Northern Red Oak (Quercus Rubra)
The Northern Red Oak tree is a native of the North Americas. Easy to transplant, this tree type can thrive in many soil types but prefers acidic type soils. It will survive in sandy soils and withstand bouts of dryness because of its deep tap root system.
The Northern Red Oak is easy to spot because of the shiny ridges running down the reddish-gray-brown bark of the tree trunk. This tree needs a huge growth area as, at maturity, it can be between 60 and 75 feet (18 to 21 meters) tall with a spread of 45 feet (13 meters), providing great shade!
Northern White Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis)
The Northern White Cedar tree or American Arborvitae is native to northeast America and grows in hardiness zones 3 – 7. Found naturally in swamps and wet forests, this tree does well in many soil types and is perfect for sandy soil.
This is a relatively narrow tree with a spread of about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4 meters) and a height of 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 meters). Commonly used as a screen tree or hedge, it grows naturally in a pyramid shape and is often shaped into a decorative tree by gardeners.
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana)
The Red Cedar tree or Red Juniper is native to Eastern North America and grows well in hardiness zones 2 – 9. It is a compact, evergreen, upright tree, perfect for smaller areas as it will only reach 40 feet (12 meters) when fully matured with a spread of between 8 and 20 feet (2 to 6 meters). Plant in full sun, but don’t plant anywhere near crabapple, apple, or hawthorn trees, as these trees all share a common disease, rust.
When fully matured, it will produce juniper berries that are blue-green berry-like cones with fleshy scales. Tolerant to all sand types, it may not grow to its full height in poor soil. The Red Cedar has low water requirements and will thrive in sandy, rocky soils.
Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus)
The Eastern White Pine tree is a native of Eastern North America and grows well in USDA Zones 3 – 8. Be careful where you decide to plant this tree, as it can grow to heights of well over 55 feet (16 meters)! The White Pine will tolerate full sun or partial shade, but while the tree is small, make sure it is protected from winter winds by other plants.
This pine tree is well-adapted to any conditions but prefers full sun exposure and has moderate tolerance for dryness. Partial to good drainage is a requirement until the tree is fully anchored.
Silk Tree (Albizia Julibrissin)
The Silk or Mimosa tree is a native of southwestern and eastern Asia and grows well in hardiness zones 5 – 10. This fast-growing deciduous tree will grow to about 30 feet (9 meters) when fully matured. The Silk tree is not considered a typical shade tree, but it will provide some shade after 5 to 7 years of growth.
These trees can tolerate short periods of drought and semi-arid conditions but favor hot summers and the occasional watering. In the summertime, tiny pink flowers attract hummingbirds and bees, but this tree can become invasive due to its rapid growth rate and ability to produce large amounts of seeds.
Paper Birch (Betula Papyrifera)
The Paper Birch tree is a native of northern North America and grows in hardiness zones 2 – 10. Although this tree grows between 50 and 70 feet (15 to 21 meters) high with a spread of around 35 feet (10 meters), it has a short lifespan of about 30 years, depending on which region you live in. Tolerant of many soil types but is intolerant of heat and humidity.
The bark on this tree is a distinguishable white color that peels once the tree reaches maturity. During the summer months, the tree produces brown or green colored, thin clusters of flowers without petals, called catkins.
Tips For Growing Trees In Sandy Soil
The best tree to plant in sandy soil areas is a tree that has adapted over the years to drought and infertile soils. Most of these trees will be from coastal or mountainous regions with poor, rocky, or sandy soil.
The only criteria are to plant trees in the conditions they have adapted to, i.e., cold or hot temperatures. When planting trees, they should be the right tree for the right place and fit in with your requirements for the area.
Sandy soil can be repaired by adding fertilizer and a proper irrigation system, but if the area is large, rather work the area around the tree only to ensure that it will grow as it should.
Trees are a great addition to any area, whether in your backyard, along a sandy driveway, or even in a landscaped area. A tree will grow and thrive for many years, often without much intervention from the grower.
Before you plant any trees, consider the soil type in your area and research which trees would grow well in those conditions.
A good strong tree is a lovely sight! There is no reason not to plant a beautiful tree because of sandy soil! All it takes is the right tree for the right environment, and you could have a backyard area full of gentle giants!