Children love to play outside, especially in the sandbox. Unfortunately, other creatures – like ants, mosquitos, and ticks – also enjoy playing in the sandbox. Rather than allowing unwelcome critters to nibble on your child, you take steps to keep pests and insects out of your sandbox.
Cover the Sandbox
When no one is in the sandbox, keep it covered. Use a hardcover with a snug fit to keep bugs and small animals (like local outdoor cats) out of the sandbox. The cover will also prevent rainwater from pooling and mosquitoes from reproducing in the stagnant water. If you get water building up on the cover, remove the cover immediately following the rain.
Rake Your Sand
Many insects make their homes by burrowing into soft dirt and sand. To keep unwanted critters from getting comfortable in the sandbox, rake the sand regularly. Raking the sand will move insects out from below the surface, encouraging them to leave and find a new home. Raking also turns over wet sand, and bugs and germs hate sunlight and heat.
You can encourage your children to help you by buying them child-sized rakes. Keep bugs out of your sand by having one rake for your sandbox and another for other yard tasks. Another fun activity that will help do the trick is to throw colorful rocks in the sand and give your kids sifting toys. Your kids will love panning for jewels, and you’ll be able to remove any bugs very easily.
Use Natural Repellants
Insects and other pests do not like some spices and herbs. While raking the sand, add cinnamon to prevent flies and fruit flies from making their homes in the box.
You can also grow herbs around the sandbox, but not right next to it. Pests don’t like mint, lavender, basil, and rosemary, so adding them to your yard near the sandbox can help. Do not grow catnip near your sandbox, as it could draw cats who could turn an uncovered sandbox into a giant litter box.
If your sandbox is near a green area that fills with weeds, take care to clean the area regularly. Vegetation can attract pests that will find your sandbox. Planting herbs near the sandbox can help, but don’t let other attractive weeds and plants flourish with the ones meant to repel pests.
Don’t forget to weed in the sandbox, as plants try to thrive everywhere they can. If properly installed, you should have put garden fabric under your sandbox, which is great for keeping weeds from sprouting up. Clean the top and the sides to prevent mold and mildew from building up and attracting pests that like it.
Get New Sand
Sand can get old quickly, especially if it’s been infested. Replace your sand regularly to keep it fresh and clean. You should replace the sand every one or two years. You can clean the sand between the changes with a mixture of water and dish soap. Put the mixture in a watering can and sprinkle it over your sandbox. Then, rake the sand to mix the soapy water into it.
When you replace your sand, stay away from builder’s sand as it has chemicals like fungicide and silica for use when mixing it with cement. Instead, buy sand made for sandboxes. If you get sand from the beach, it could have ticks and other unwanted critters in it.
If you’re removing and replacing sand in your sandbox, definitely consider recycling! You can use the old sand for your compost pile or as a filler in your flower beds and pots. Add sand to your pea gravel to help with drainage. You should also be able to take sand to your local yard-waste recycling center. If you aren’t sure what to do with it, ask your local gardening supply store what to do with it.
Create a Barrier Around the Sandbox
Another useful tool for preventing pests and insects from getting into your sandbox is to sprinkle a non-toxic bug repellent around the outside of the sandbox. You can find non-toxic bug repellents at your local gardening supply store. We like this option from Spritz as well. You can also put cinnamon and cornstarch around the perimeter to keep ants from crawling into the box.
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Avoid putting any chemical-laden bug repellents in and around your sandbox. Many have insecticides that can make children and adults sick if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.
Check the Box
Some pests, like carpenter bees and termites, make their home in wood. If you have a sandbox made of wood, you might find unwanted guests in the box itself. Some wasps use wood fibers to make their nests, so you might see stinging insects around the sandbox.
Check the box regularly for invaders, especially since bugs like untreated wood, which is the safest choice for the walls of a child’s sandbox.
No Food Allowed
To keep your sandbox free of unwanted pests, make sure no one eats or drinks in the sandbox. Any bit of food left in the sandbox will immediately attract ants, flies, and other bugs.
If you put cinnamon in the sandbox, the pleasant smell might encourage your children to bring their food to the sandbox. You’ll want to put your foot down here and tell your children and their friends not to eat the sand in the sandbox. Despite your best efforts, you never know what lingering bacteria and other nasty things live in it.
Taking care of your sandbox will keep your children safe and can extend the life of your play area.
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