You may be surprised to find that using pea gravel instead of sand in your sandbox can provide many advantages to you and your family. There are a lot of issues that many parents have with sand, not the least of which are how messy it is, the potential health risks, and how expensive it is to get good, natural sand. So read on as we cover 7 reasons why you should use pea gravel in your kids sandbox.
1. Pea Gravel Doesn’t Attract Animals Like Sand Does
One of the biggest drawbacks of having sand in a sandbox is how attractive it is to animals. Cats in particular can be quite attracted to sand, often using it as a bathroom. Consequently, pea gravel is a better choice for sandboxes if you have cats in your yard or near your sandbox because pea gravel won’t be used as a restroom.
Sandboxes also tend to attract racoons and dogs, as well as some insects. And while it’s impossible to keep all little critters out of a sandbox with pea gravel, you won’t attract as many as you would with sand.
2. Pea Gravel Stays Put
Another reason pea gravel is preferable to sand in your sandbox is that it tends to say put. While sand gets stuck on everything, pea gravel doesn’t have that downside. This means that pea gravel is much easier to clean up and maintain than sand. You won’t need to worry about finding a bunch of sand in your child’s clothes, hair, and stuck to their skin after their session outdoors. You may find a couple of pieces of pea gravel, but these little stones are much easier to clean up than sand is.
Pea gravel also stays put in your sandbox better than sand does because it’s larger and heavier. This means if the wind blows or your kids accidentally knock pea gravel out, it’s less likely to scatter in the yard and onto other surfaces. It’s also less likely to get blown into eyes during playtime like sand.
3. It’s Easy to Keep Pea Gravel Clean
You may be surprised to find that pea gravel is easier to clean than sand in your sandbox. No matter what, your sandbox is going to get dirty eventually. You’ll have accidents like drinks spilled in the sandbox or maybe even leaky diapers. But instead of just throwing all the pea gravel out, pea gravel can be easily washed off using a simple bucket with holes in it and a hose. Plus, you don’t have to worry about having the pea gravel scatter everywhere like you would with sand.
Pea gravel also dries quicker than sand, so if you do need to clean your pea gravel, you won’t have to wait a long time to resume playtime with your kids.
4. You Don’t Have to Worry About Crystalline Silica or Tremolite
One of the big concerns many parents have with sand is the potentially harmful dust particles. Crystalline silica has been shown to be a dangerous carcinogen, and tremolite is linked to cancer. And unless you find natural sand that has been checked and is certified not to contain these dangerous particles, pea gravel is much safer.
Pea gravel does not contain these particles, and you can even get pea gravel that doesn’t have any dust, which is hard to find when buying sand. Any kind of dust can irritate growing lungs and may cause asthma attacks or breathing problems for the little ones.
5. Pea Gravel is Cheaper Than Sand
Aside from cleanup and health concerns, there’s the question of price. You can find builder’s sand for around the same price as pea gravel, but builder’s sand isn’t generally safe for use in a kids sandbox. This kind of sand is usually very dusty and has a range of different sizes, meaning it’s not like the sand you’ll find on a pristine beach.
So if you want sand that is low-dust and that’s certified not to have any dangerous particles, you’ll be spending a pretty penny filling up your sandbox. Pea gravel, on the other hand, is significantly cheaper. You can get bags of pea gravel for between $4 and $8 apiece. It takes most people between 6 and 10 bags to fill up the average sandbox. Kid-safe sand, on the other hand, costs between $15 and $30 per bag.
6. Pea Gravel Has a Unique Texture
While it may not feel quite the same to stick your toes in pea gravel as it would in sand, and it may not be possible to create a sandcastle with pea gravel, these little rounded rocks have their own attraction. Unlike sand particles, kids can pick up and inspect a piece of pea gravel, feeling its texture and checking out the varying colors. And no two pieces of pea gravel have the exact same texture, so they’re great for the curious minds of kids.
This means kids like to play with pea gravel. They can make mountains out of it, they can scoop it up and transfer it in shovels, buckets, and toy trucks, and they can have fun feeling the varying textures of all the different pieces.
7. Pea Gravel is More Shock-Absorbent
There’s a reason why many playgrounds use pea gravel around the play structures: it’s more shock absorbent than sand. Sand can get packed down pretty tight, which means it doesn’t have room to compress when a kid falls on it. This may not be a top priority for a sandbox, but it’s something to consider, especially if your kids are at an age where they’re starting to get a little rowdy.
Pea gravel has many benefits over sand: it’s cleaner, cheaper, more shock absorbent than sand (especially if your kids are getting rowdy) and gives children the same social and motor-function benefits as sand. It also won’t get tracked into the house and clog up the washing machine like sand will. For those looking for a more sanitary and cheaper alternative to sand for a backyard sandbox, pea gravel is the way to go.