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The previous owner of my house had a 1 ft. wide strip of mulch next to the walkway. I'd like to just have grass grow up to the edge of the walkway instead.

However, the ground is extremely sandy. Under the mulch woodchips, there's about 1/2 an inch of dark soil that is probably remnants of the mulch material, and then sand underneath. To my novice eye it basically just looks like pure sand. I'm sure that's not actually true, but it definitely does not bear any resemblance to anything that could be called 'soil'.

The good news is that I can get as much compost as I'd like from the town dump for free. Will mixing the sand and compost at some ratio produce reasonable soil? What ratio would that be? And how deep of a trench should I dig and replace?

Are there any other options that people would recommend?

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  • Not very familiar with growing grass in sand but it would help if you could post a picture of the area, indicate how long the bed/walkway is, how deep the sand goes and what's underneath and where in the word you're located as well as what is the soil like next to the bed that isn't sandy. Apr 26, 2015 at 12:05
  • It's in Maine usa. It's sandy as far down as I've dug (about a foot). The rest of the yard looks ok - probably loam on top of the native sand. The neighborhood is extremely sandy in general.
    – Clyde
    Apr 26, 2015 at 18:42

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There are worse problems to have, such as unrelenting clay you could throw pots from.

Add/mix in 2-3" compost and plant seed (or lay turf if so inclined.) You might also want to do a quick excavation to determine if this is the nature of the whole yard, or if it's an extended sandy foundation/drainage for the path.

If you have free available compost, also try to sort out a way that you can distribute 1/4-1/2" of that all over your lawn surface on a yearly basis - some sort of spreader seems attractive but is prone to mechanical issues handling compost as opposed to granular materials, likely just shovel and rake, leaving grass sticking up so you know it's not too deep. Use a bit more on gardens/flower beds.

If you have an out-of the way corner, much municipal compost is improved by some extra time in a pile (your out-of the way corner could be your "proudly displayed mound of happy squash/pumpkins" in your garden, if applicable - they love to be right in a heap, and you can spread last year's pile on the lawn when they are done.)

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  • Most of the lawn is in decent shape, though there are a few patches that could use a bit of help. But for now I'm only working along the path
    – Clyde
    Apr 26, 2015 at 18:37
  • How deep would you mix in to the sand? Top 6 inches for a 50/50 mix? Or mix it more thinly into 9 to 12 inches?
    – Clyde
    Apr 26, 2015 at 18:39
  • Probably the top 4-6" (50%), yes. Go over to the lawn part and cut a turf if you want a more nuanced local reference for depth of significant roots / topsoil.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 26, 2015 at 21:09

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