What is a bioswale?

You may have unknowingly parked next to, landed in a plane, or drove past miles of bioswales in your life and not even knew they existed or more importantly their actual purpose.  Bioswales are large areas designed to both collect and treat stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.  With increasing regulations to not just reduce stormwater runoff, but also to improve the water quality, bioswales have become an effective tool for this purpose.

Courtesy of https://theray.org/tech/bioswales/


Keep in mind that here in Georgia and Metro Atlanta that the majority of precipitation events are 1 inch or less.  Therefore, those are the events most regulators, environmental groups, and engineers design plans to capture and return the water to the landscape in a manner that mimics nature.  Natural landscapes, such as forest, allow the water to infiltrate through the soil and either be stored, taken up by plants, or move as groundwater before recharging a downslope stream.  Impervious surfaces (roads, roofs, etc.) prevent this from occurring and water must be transported horizontally across the surface.


This stormwater is now being collected along parking lots and roads into bioswales.  Bioswales use a combination of vegetation and most importantly engineered soil placed on a specific grade to collect water and allow it to infiltrate into the soil and/or be taken up by the plants for evapotranspiration.  The soil is designed to filter the water from pollutants while providing plants a media to grow by using the water and excess nutrients filtered from the runoff.


Think of the soil as a sponge that soaks up water, stores some of it for plants to use, and allows the excess to recharge the groundwater below.  That’s the coolest ditch you ever saw, and some of the plants can even make the landscape look amazing!  So next time you run through the parking lot when it is raining, look where the water is flowing because it might just be into a bioswale.


For further in depth reading and if you are interested in learning more about stormwater here in Georgia check out the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual at:




Building your backyard beach

Bring vacation home and make your back yard or lake front property look and feel like a tropical paradise with beach sand.  There are many properties to consider when selecting sand for your beach including color, gradation, cleanliness, and pricing.  We actually offer several options of gradation and color, but regardless, all of our sands are washed to reduce unwanted contaminants.  As for gradation, a beach with a finer grain type of sand will feel more like the traditional beaches of the Florida Panhandle or the Caribbean, with a soft touch.  However, the smaller the size particle of sand the more likely it is to erode, so if you have a lot of wave action from nearby boaters you might consider a medium to coarse grade of sand to minimize erosion.  River Sand, Inc.’s beach sand can meet your color preference too, from bright white to an eggshell white (for those eyes that might be a little light sensitive or for those folks who want a more natural look).

Before you order a load of beach sand you may also consider a few other factors.  First, consider the topography of the area where you want to place the sand and make certain that storm water runoff is directed away from the beach to reduce the potential of your sand washing away.   Secondly, consider the required maintenance that will prolong the life and quality of your beach sand.  Maintenance may involve raking the sand back in place after heavy rainfall, and removal of weeds, sticks and leaves.  Maintenance may benefit from placing a non-woven geotextile fabric or landscaping fabric underneath the sand to prevent sub-base (clay) contamination and weed growth.  One last thing to consider is access
to the beach area for delivery.  Leaving an access or driveway for a delivery truck will require less time and effort to spread and replenish your beach sand. 


If you have questions about building your dream beach or just a place for the kids to play, please call River Sand for more information.


Remember that River Sand, Inc. can meet your beach sand needs, and our trucks can deliver any amount to any place in North Georgia and Metro Atlanta.

We have even helped build an underwater beach basketball court so let us know what you want to do!

River Sand consulted and supplied sand for an underwater basketball court for a kid’s camp.  The creative idea was dreamed up as a way to improve the experience for campers.  The lake level was lowered and graded initially.  A geotextile fabric was then staked down to separate the lake bottom from the sand.  Finally, an excavator placed the beach sand to grade to create the underwater court.  The result is a little slower paced basketball game, but really fun!

The benefits of topdressing your lawn…grow grass like a champ!!!


If you live here in Georgia and tried to grow any type of plant, then you know about our notorious Georgia red clay (dun-dun-duhhhh).

Georgia Red Clay

It is beautiful but too often the contractor grades out your home and at the same time strips the topsoil, leaving only the poor sub soil behind.  Don’t worry, it was left totally compacted too by the time the house was completed.  Last but not least your poor sod gets thrown on top of the nutrient and organic matter deficient, compacted dirt.  Good luck trying to keep your lawn healthy.  It will take more water, nutrients, herbicides, pesticides, and more to keep it looking up to par.

If by chance you actually do have good soil beneath your turf, keep reading because topdressing will maintain the healthy lifestyle of your turf.  After all, good soil conditions are like similar to living a balanced lifestyle ourselves.  When you have the proper nutrition, water, and exercise then you will look and feel better and have less weeds in your life.  It’s more work to get poor soil back into shape than to start with it from the beginning but topdressing can help in either situation.

Just like other plants your lawn turfgrass needs light, air, and water.  A deep healthy rootzone helps the plant thrive even through stressful conditions, such as a drought or extreme temperatures.

Healthy roots lead to great looks

Unfortunately, compacted soils with a high clay content (the typical stuff around here) make it difficult for roots to penetrate deep into the soil (which lacks nutrients and water anyway).  You can take a sample by cutting out a small patch with a shovel or knife.  If you notice the roots are less than a few inches we need to to help them out.  The compacted clay also prevents air and water from infiltrating into the soil so only the top portion of the soil gets any moisture before the excess water just runs off the lawn. 

The second issue that plagues turfgrass, especially healthy lawns, is thatch build up.  Thatch is basically decomposing organic matter developed by old stolons and rhizomes from turf growth.  It’s important to note that grass clippings do not contribute to thatch, so don’t worry about that.  Thatch collects between the leaves (green part) and the roots, so you really don’t see it without digging down to look at a sample of turf. Too much thatch actually prevents water and air from getting through and down to the roots.

Soooo, two things prevent water (along with nutrients) and air getting deep into the soil where it can last for days to continue to last between rainfall (or irrigation events).  Those two things are compacted clay soils and thatch.  The solution is to core aerate and topdress. 

Red clay soils beneath thatch build up.

Core aeration pulls plugs of dirt and thatch out of the profile and leaves them up on top.  Topdressing with sand [why use sand? read this] provides an amendment that reduces compaction and allows water and air to go deep into the soil.  Dragging the plugs back into the turf while you drag the sand is fine.  The additional air getting to the rootzone will help the excess thatch decompose properly as well.  Dethatching is another process that may be required if thatch is too excessive.

Topdressing yields great results!

As you may already know, you should only cut your grass no more than a third of its height at a time.  Often you break this rule when your lawn is not level and has humps or holes.  When the mower goes over these rough areas it scalps (cuts the grass too low) the grass and leaves only the tan/brown stems with no green leaves.  It looks terrible and is not good for the turf health either.  Topdressing in these areas smooths it up so that you are left with an even cut every time and sweet green grass.  You know the kind you look out the window and say wow look at my lawn!

If you are ready to get started or have questions please feel free to contact River Sand, Inc. for help.

The green grass dream!

How to topdress your own lawn…in 8 easy steps (ok it does require some physical activity)

How to topdress your own lawn…in 8 easy steps (ok it does require some physical activity)

So you have heard the benefits of topdressing your turfgrass already, and in your boredom at work you are researching the plan to topdress your lawn this weekend.  Obviously you could pay a professional but you would rather save some money and get a little exercise while making your lawn look great.  Here is the basics to topdress your lawn yourself:

  1. Most importantly this IS ONLY about topdressing warm season turfgrasses such as any type of bermuda, zoysia, centipede, st. augustine, and a few more. This is NOT for fescue (unless you want to kill it, which is perfectly fine but round-up is easier).  Almost all subdivisions in North Georgia and Atlanta are sodded with bermuda by the contractor (on the worst red clay they can find).  If you have this type of grass then let’s go.

    Typical bermuda in poor health on clay soils.
  2. Make certain that the grass is green. Most warm season turfs green up in May or June in the South.  Let the grass come out of dormancy (when it’s brown) for at least a few days or couple of weeks.  You can topdress into July and August but not past that as it will not recover before the fall.
  3. Get your supplies. You will need to schedule a delivery of topdressing sand (it will fit in the driveway or along the curb).  A rule of thumb is order about a ton of sand per 1,000 square feet of lawn (not more than 2 tons per 1,000 sqft.)  You will need shovel(s), wheel barrow or topdresser, a loader or tractor with loader is optional, small rake and a landscaping rake (or shop broom -the wide one).  If you have a larger area, a drag will help too.  A drag can be an infield rake (like the thing they drag around at the Braves’ game), but a simpler version is an old chain link fence gate or just fence weighted with 2×4 lumber (be creative because all you are doing it dragging it around to level up the sand).

    Mower, core aerator, and topdressing sand are all ready!
  4. Scalp the grass with the mower. Cut it on the lowest setting on the mower without the mower hitting the ground.  This may take a couple of trips around depending on the initial turf height and mower.
  5. Core aerate the lawn.Core aeration increases the effectiveness of topdressing.  A core aerator is the type that has hollow tines and throws out a plug (looks like goose poop).  You can usually rent these at hardware stores, rental stores, or buy a cheap one that you pull with your mower.
    Red clay plugs and thatch are replaced with sand to help aeration and infiltration.

    There are so many types.  Don’t worry just do it – you aren’t going to hurt the grass.  Just look out for the sprinkler heads, tree roots, and buried phone lines (which should be deeper than a few inches anyway).

  6. Spread some topdressing sand. Read this if you need to know what kind and why you should spread sand instead of soil or compost.  You can be fancy and rent an actual topdressing machine (from Keystone Rental, http://www.keystonetoolrental.com) along with a mini loader.  However, I suggest breaking out the ol’ shovel and wheel barrow.  You can just sling the sand evenly over the grass with the shovel or dump it in small piles and spread with the landscaping rake.  A drag (see above) behind a lawn mower works great for larger areas.  Either way you need a long flat surface to help level up the ground with the sand and break up the core plugs.  The idea is to add about a ¼ inch of sand and work it evenly.  It will fall into the holes.  Keep in mind you may have some small areas/holes that need more sand to level it up.

    Using a small topdresser or a shovel works great to spread the sand.
  7. It is optional but a little fertilizer is great to add to help the turf recover. A fertilizer with a high amount of nitrogen (that is the first number on the analysis) helps the leaves grow back quick.
  8. Water that lawn or ask God to do it with some rain. This allows the sand to melt in and the grass to recover quickly.


Now you know that your neighbors will be jealous once your lawn looks awesome, so this is your warning that you better be ready to tell them who to call or you may be doing it again next door.  Seriously, just get them to split the cost of the load of sand delivered with you so you can have help and save money to start with.  This is work but have a good time and enjoy your time outside!

Reducing Winter Damage on Your Golf Course Bermuda Grasses

golf course bermuda grasses
Keep your golf course bermuda grasses gorgeous through the winter with these simple tips.

There are some definite pros and cons to winter on the golf course. One pro is that less people play during the cold months, and less foot traffic means less damage to the course’s bermuda grasses. However, winter is harsh for plant life. It’s not uncommon to wind up at the beginning of spring with several dead patches of grass scattered around the course. Winter damage is rough, but there are a few things you can do to minimize it. Continue reading Reducing Winter Damage on Your Golf Course Bermuda Grasses

Maintaining Your Arena Sand as Seasons Change

arena sand
Proper maintenance to your arena sand is key to maintaining a safe and attractive arena for your riders.

Maintaining your equestrian arena sand is crucial not only to the health of the arena itself but also to the horse and the rider. If the sand is too dry, then dust becomes an issue. However, if it’s too wet, then mud is a worry. Both issues can lead to serious injuries for the horse and rider, so maintenance is essential, especially in changing seasons. Some of these things we can control, but as the seasons change, it becomes necessary to take certain precautions to protect your arena from unpredictable circumstances by keeping it as well-maintained as possible. Continue reading Maintaining Your Arena Sand as Seasons Change

Fall Lawn Care Tips that will Save Your Landscaping

fall lawn care tips for landscaping
These fall lawn care tips will save your landscaping from the coming harsh winter.

The year is winding down, the weather is gorgeous, and you think you’re done with landscaping for the year … but you’re not! Fall is the right time to get your yard prepared for the harsh winter. Follow these easy fall lawn care tips to ensure your lawn lasts the winter and brings you a beautiful spring!

The fall months are essentially the winterizing months for your lawn. They are preparation months and require more unique work than during the spring and summer. But if you want to be the envy of all the neighbors, and have that lawn that’s ready to emerge from the winter, take the time now to do it properly. Continue reading Fall Lawn Care Tips that will Save Your Landscaping

Size Matters: Why Bunker Sand Particle Size is Important

bunker sand
Golf bunker sand has to be the perfect size to provide the stability and cushion golf courses need.

Golf course maintenance is a challenging enterprise for even the most experienced superintendent. In addition to maintaining the height of the grass blades and condition of the tees, there is also the state of the bunker to consider. It may not seem like a huge undertaking to the untrained eye, but make no mistake, there is much planning involved in creating and maintaining the perfect sand trap. One of the issues to be carefully considered is the particle size of the bunker sand itself. Continue reading Size Matters: Why Bunker Sand Particle Size is Important

Home topdressing – Unmatched lawns use topdressing

home topdressing
Topdressing the the secret ingredient to a show-stopping lawn.

You take pride in your home and one of the first things anyone sees of it is your lawn. Green, lush and fertile should be your first goal. It’s the envy of the entire neighborhood. Your secret? Topdressing. For new homeowners out there who want to get in on the action, I’m going to explain the power that topdressing can give them. Continue reading Home topdressing – Unmatched lawns use topdressing

Why a Dust Free Arena is a Must: Proper riding arena sand keeps your riders (and horses) safe

riding arena sand
Keeping your riding arena sand dust free

Whether you’re a trainer, rider, or superintendent, you want the arena to be as dust free as possible. The only way to do this is to look to a quality riding arena sand mix or blended equestrian footing. Not only will this keep the facility looking professional, but you’ll also avoid those major health concerns. More than the importance of saving money is the health and well-being of everyone involved in your arena.

The condition of your riding arena sand is critical to the health and safety of your riders (and their horses) In fact, there are many, many reasons to keep the dust at bay. Here are the top five. Continue reading Why a Dust Free Arena is a Must: Proper riding arena sand keeps your riders (and horses) safe