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I live in the south and have pretty heavy clay soil. I'm planning on building a simple 4' by 4' sandbox for my kids.

Once I remove the sod, can I just dump in a bunch of sand, or should I staple landscaping fabric to the bottom (or even plywood with a few drainage holes) before pouring in sand? I'm ok if the sand doesn't stay pure sand as long as it's still easy and fun to play in.

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  • Whatever you do, make sure rainwater can drain out (a solid plywood bottom sounds like a bad idea).
    – Hank
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 4:18
  • Edited to make it clear it would have drainage holes. Thanks.
    – Philip
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 4:20
  • How are you going to keep the cats from using it as a big litter box? Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:24
  • @Craig a lid if necessary. At our last house we had neighborhood cats but they didn't poop in the sandbox for some reason. My main concern right now is if it's ok for me to leave the lid out.
    – Philip
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 1:36
  • Related: sandbox bottoms.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 20:45

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I made a sandbox a couple of decades ago for kids. It had a plywood bottom and was built with legs that held it up about seven inches off the ground. The bottom had drainage holes to let water out. The plywood lasted for a long time. How long? Hard to say I sold the thing in a garage sale after 10 years when the kids grew out of sand boxes.

BTW - I had a lid over the top made out of two pieces of plywood that were hinged together. The lid kept out cats and most of the rain. If the sand got too wet just opened it to the sun and worked the sand around with a small garden rake over the course of a day or so.

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    This doesn't really answer my question of if I need a plywood bottom. I'm hoping to avoid it so they can dig deeper as they grow older, but I don't know what will happen. I have great memories of a huge sandbox as a kid and I didn't outgrow it until very late, in part because it was so big I think.
    – Philip
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 4:35
  • Well I was indirectly suggesting a plywood bottom that was raised off the ground. I had two major criteria to deal with -- make it movable and keep cats from using it as a litter box. Your usage scenario may vary greatly.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 4:50
  • @Philip It doesn't need a bottom, but you should remove all the dirt until you find clay. It should be away from any conifer trees and close to a garden hose. Sand and water were invaluable learning tools for me. Besides, how else are they going to speculate about digging to China?
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 6:30

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