Live in Kennesaw. Have been to HOme Depot, Lowes, Ace, Pikes and others and can only find fine sand. Anyone know where to find commercial grade course sand in this area?
You may get a lead using the link below. Google "course sand kennesaw georgia"...
Here is a link that might be useful: Aggreate / Materials
Check with Lowes again. Ask for swiming pool filter sand.
I was on the same quest last year in my area (N. Alabama). I would check any local large nurseries or landscaping companies that carry landscaping materials in bulk. Ask for "paver's sand" or the landscaper's opinion on what would be best. That's what worked for me.
Be careful if you are adding that sand to your clay soil to break it up. I tried doing that and the results were less than satisfactory. The sand was like glue that held the clay together. It formed little balls about the size of quarters which could not be broken apart. After doing a lot more reading about the subject of adding sand to your clay soil, I found that many sources do not recommend adding sand because of the problems you may have.
Would using organic materials mixed with the clay @ 50/50 be appropriate to get good drainage for my azaleas in clay soil?
IMO, it would be 100% better than it would be if you added sand. In my clay soil I have only used compost and shredded leaves and I challenge anyone to find any clay soil to a depth of 12 inches or more. Organic matter in red Georgia clay has made all the difference in my plots, there is no other solution IMO...
I have added sand (paver's sand) to my clay with satisfactory results. I think that my success was in the fact that I added about equal amounts of sand to the existing clay. Although I agree with blutranes that organic matter can have the best results (and possibly with the least risk) when amending clay.
Thanks everyone for the help. I think I will just go with the 50/50 clay and organic materials.
Ask for white silica sand ('sharp' sand). Under no condition buy the kind of 'sand' that looks like clay pebbles. Contact a place that supplies wholesale concrete ingredients to builders. Try the two below:
Alley-Cassetty Brick - Auburn
1399 Duncan Lane, Auburn, GA 30011
Phone: (770) 791-0015
Alley-Cassetty Brick - Morrow
1115 Southern Road, Morrow, GA 30260
Phone: (770) 961-4477
Here is a thread which this topic was discussed at length.
Here is a link that might be useful: Clay + Sand
For amending your clay soil the best thing you can add is organic matter, leaves, compost, even wood chips. What you need is a humus level, the residual amount of organic matter in your soil, of around 5 to 8 percent.
The native habitat for Azaleas, or any Rhododendron, is as an understory plant in the forest, growing in a soil well endowed with organic matter, that is evenly moist and well drained.
Sand will not do that. If you could get enough sand mixed into the clay to start to make any difference any moisture would flow through so quickly that the plants would not be able to use it.
"If you could get enough sand mixed into the clay to start to make any difference any moisture would flow through so quickly that the plants would not be able to use it."
Not in my experience.
Steve, what is your native soil mixture? How much clay, silt, and sand does your soil contain and in what proportion?
I did the "add some soil to a jar of water test" and after a few days waiting for everything to settle out I found that most of the material was not going to. There were some thin layers of coarser material at the bottom of the jar (and a few floating on the top), but the vast majority of the material was very small clay particles that did not really settle out well at all (it feels all slimy when it's in the water like that). From that test, which I performed a few times in a few different places, I concluded that I have clay, at least 85 or 90% clay (that's a rough estimate).
In the yard, below the top inch or two (where the sod was once laid) it's thick and marbled with chalky white and rust colored stuff. It takes me 15 minutes with a high pressure hose and a scrub brush to properly clean a shovel after working with it (by the way I have gone through two of those "10 year guarantee" shovels from Lowe's and at least 3 spading forks trying to work the soil in my yard - they just fold up like paper). The only other material that is in the ground in any quantity is chunks of chert.
Did you ever think of looking in the yellow pages? Just about any building supply place should sell bulk sand. Masonary or plaster sand would be fine, concrete sand would be coarser. You can also get sand premixed with pea gravel, or just pea gravel. Last time I checked it was about $45 a cubic yard plus delivery. If you take a full 10 cubic yard truck load they will usually give you a better price or eliminate the delivery charge. If you buy it in Lowes or Home depot by the bag it will cost you a fortune if you need a lot. Silica sand is used for sand blasting and is the most expensive, would be a waste of money for your purposes.
You may want to spend some time with this article by Keith Baldwin, who was at the time he wrote this a professor of Soil Science at North Caolina State University, as I recall.
Here is a link that might be useful: Amending Clay Soils
Great article! I think this is exactly what we should all be striving for and if you include the final paragraph of the article:
"A note of caution to gardeners who would attempt to improve clay soils by amending them with sand: This is a very risky business unless the sand (often incorporated as much as 50:50 by volume) is a very sharp sand. Otherwise, additions of sand to clay soil can create a cementlike creature that resists root growth and impedes the flow of air and water."
it is exactly what this thread is discussing, i.e. paver's sand or masonry sand.