Polymeric Sand and FFL Principle #8: Reduce Stormwater Runoff.

Landscaping choices play a vital role in environmental sustainability. Each decision, from plant selection to paving materials, influences the health of our outdoor spaces. Polymeric sand is a common choice for filling paver joints, but does it align with Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles?

Polymeric Sand: Strengths and Limitations:

Polymeric sand is a mixture of fine sand, polymers, and binding agents that’s used to fill joints between pavers, tiles, or natural stone. Polymeric sand does a good job of keeping pavers in place and stopping weeds, but it’s not porous. That means water can’t soak through it, which goes against the eighth Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principle: Reduce Stormwater Runoff. This principle is all about using materials that fit your environment, especially ones that save water and cut down on runoff.

So, what is an alternative that better align with Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles? Let’s explore:

Permeable Paver Sand: Specifically designed to allow water drainage while stabilizing pavers. It conserves water and is more sustainable than polymeric sand. Paver sand is a crucial component in creating permeable pavement systems, which are designed to allow water to infiltrate through the surface and into the ground below. This helps reduce stormwater runoff, which is beneficial for managing water quality and quantity in urban areas. When it comes to options for permeable paver sand, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Typical Permeable Paving Cross Section

Considerations for Choosing Permeable Paver Sand:

  • Granule size: Coarse granules allow for better water permeability compared to finer. The bigger the granules, the better water flows through. However, note that larger granules may not offer effective weed prevention.
  • Material composition: (commonly silica or crushed stone) permeable paver sand is angular in shape. This helps the particles lock together, contributing to better stability. Manufacturers may recommend a specific compaction weight (measured in pounds per square inch) but generally, aim for gentle compaction to avoid crushing the sand particles and hindering permeability.
  • Strength: This strength ensures the pavement can withstand regular use and environmental stressors while effectively managing stormwater runoff.
  • Maintenance: Compared to polymeric sand, permeable paver sand may require periodic reapplication. Over time, natural elements and use can displace the sand particles, requiring you to add more to maintain proper joint fill levels and permeability.


Overall, selecting the right permeable paver sand is essential for the performance and longevity of permeable pavement systems. It’s advisable to consult with a landscaping professional or supplier to determine the best option based on your specific project requirements and local conditions. Remember, the goal is to promote environmentally friendly landscaping practices while also achieving functional and visually appealing outdoor spaces.


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Posted: May 29, 2024

Category: Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Lawn, UF/IFAS Extension, Water

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