Knowing where to get free sand near you is helpful for the homesteader or gardener. It’s one of those things we don’t think we need – until we do. Then we bristle at the thought of paying for sand. It’s “dirt” after all – shouldn’t sand be free?
As we all know, few things in life are free – least of all sand. As I write this, the world is encountering a sand shortage. This sounds odd for those that aren’t in the know. It’s sand! We go shooting in sand pits, it’s all through the southwest, all over most any beach. How can there be a shortage? Easy. Sand is is the most-consumed raw material after water.
The Many Uses of Sand
According to one site:
Sand and gravel are used for road construction, for mixing with asphalt, as construction fill, and in the production of construction materials like concrete blocks, bricks, and pipes. It is also used to make roofing shingles, used on icy roads in the winter, for railroad ballast, and water filtration.https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/sand-and-gravel/
Those are industrial purposes, however. What if you just want a bit of sand to mix some concrete or to add to a garden? Most homesteaders out there are also involved in some sort of gardening – and if you live in an area with heavy clay – you’re likely going to want to make some soil amendments to ensure your crops do what you want them to.
If you live in an area with heavy flooding, you’re likely going to want sandbags that can help to protect your house and other structures from taking on any damage. Sandbags are also used by the military to offer protective cover.
Sand is also used to spread across highways during the winter months. Safe to say, there are many uses for sand.
Sand Can Be Expensive
The problem is that sand can be expensive when you start to buy large amounts of it. You can easily expect to spend $5/50 pounds if you go to your local hardware store. If you have a large garden to take care of or a large area that you need to protect, that quickly grows to be cost-prohibitive.
A much more cost-effective option becomes available if you own a pickup truck. If that’s the case, you can get a much better deal on sand from your local landscaping company. You’ll likely be able to fill up your entire truck bed with sand from such a location for $60 or so.
Where to Get Free Sand
If you’re looking for free sand, I have a couple of recommendations.
Check Your Local Government
For starters, check with your local government – particularly if you live near the shore or in an area prone to flooding. Some municipalities throughout the US do offer free sand to residents (along with sandbags). Example of such would be Contra Costa County, California (talk about alliteration).
Your municipality may very well have some sort of similar program in effect that you didn’t know about.
Here in Maine, towns offer free sand to residents during the winter months for purposes of spreading it on ice-covered driveways and stairs. As you can expect, however, they limit how much each person can take.
At freedirt.com you’ll find peoples’ listings throughout the country of dirt that they’re attempting to get rid of. You may very well end up finding somebody that’s trying to get rid of a load of sand as well.
How could I write an article about searching for free stuff and not mention Craigslist? You can find just about anything on here from the full gamut of society.
Yes, the people you meet on Craigslist might be a weirdo, but, hey, who cares if you find what you’re looking for free.
Perhaps you live in an area with sandy soil and a lot of rain. If that’s the case, you very well may have roadside ditches that accumulate sand as time goes on. You’re in luck then! You can likely harvest this sand without their being any problem whatsoever.
Can’t I Just Take Sand from the Beach?
You would think so, right? I mean, the stuff is everywhere. Why would anyone have a problem with your taking some?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The beach is absolutely not a place to get free sand.
Many municipalities jealously guard their sand, and if they catch you taking any we’re talking about fines so large you could potentially lose your home. Need proof?
- In Hawaii, taking sand from a beach can cost you $100,000
- California and Florida have made it illegal to take sand from a beach
- On August 19, 2019, a French couple was arrested in Italy for having 88 pounds of sand in the trunk of their car. I’m not entirely sure what happened to them, but they faced a potential jailtime of six years.
Allegedly, this is because many municipalities are actually facing a shortage of sand. Due to erosion, a lot of beach communities are gradually falling into the water – literally – and the local governments are forced to import sand from other locations to ensure that they still have ground to walk on.
So, no, don’t take sand from the beach.
What About A Desert?
If you live right beside a desert of some other massive sand dune region, you may be able to harvest sand without any problem, but most certainly check your local laws first. A season’s harvest of easy-to-pull carrots isn’t worth going to jail over.
Every region is different, and you never really know what you can expect. What’s fine in one state or country isn’t necessarily the same in another – and in fact could be highly illegal. So do your research before you think about getting “free” sand from these locations as well.
Dusting Off and Heading Out
While there are options for finding free sand near you, make sure that you’re not doing anything illegal in the process. Six years of hard time for having a truck full of sand is a rather ridiculous price to pay, and you don’t want to end up in the same boat.
Hopefully though, this will at least give you a good starting point to work from as you begin your search for free sand in your area. Whether you’ll have luck or not will likely result on where you’re located, but you never know. You just might be able to pull of the sand score of the century.
Are there other locations you know of where you can get free sand? Have you had success at any of these locations in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
So we’re prepping for Hurricane Ian at the moment ( in Punta Gorda, FL), and between having to prep my workplace, putting up shutters, and lashing everything down (including my father’s boat – by myself!) – by the time we reach the “free hurricane prep sand” for the community it was a GIANT crater in the ground! 🙁 People were so desperate that they kept digging past the pile!