Moldy sand? Sandbox help please!

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  #1  
Old 05-30-06, 11:17 AM
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Moldy sand? Sandbox help please!

Hey all,

I recently built a 4' x 6' sandbox for our 2 yr old (sits about 4" in the ground). The sides are made of treated 2X10s (painted), the bottom is 1/4 plywood painted with exterior house trim paint to help prevent rotting. I also put a top on it, primarily to keep cats and other wildlife from doing their business in it at night, but also to keep rain/moisture out.

We had quite a bit of rain a couple weeks ago. Yesterday we took the top up and the sand was a bit damp, so apparently a little rain got in anyway. I took a shovel to loosen the sand a bit and after I got about 2" down the sand was discolored (almost looked black, not solid black, but defintely not normal sand color) and smelled REALLY BAD. It was so bad that I took all the sand out and dumped it.

Could this be mold from the moisture having nowhere to go? If so, what should I do to remedy this? I thought about drilling holes in the bottom, top, and sides to help the air circulate. The holes would allow more rain water to enter, so would this make the problem worse, or would they allow any moisture to escape and help the sand to dry. If they are small enough holes, they would still keep the wildlife from getting in (although insects could easily get in).

I've never built a sandbox like this before, so any advice would be appreciated. There is no way I'm going to let my kid play in something that smelled that bad, plus I don't want to buy 12 more bags of sand only to have to dump them again.

Thanks,
Mike
 
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  #2  
Old 05-30-06, 12:08 PM
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first question is why is it 4" in the ground? if you could just sit it on top of the ground it wouldnt get as much moisture in it.
 
  #3  
Old 05-30-06, 12:50 PM
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I've read a couple "how to's" on sandboxes and they've used landscape fabric (not the plastic kind) on the bottom to allow drainage and prevent weeds from growing. Seems your smelly problem was the moisture.

What did you use as your top cover??
 
  #4  
Old 05-30-06, 01:43 PM
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kerry - I put it recessed in the ground more for aesthetic reasons than anything else. Since it was an enclosed unit, I didn't think it would make much difference with moisture. Does having it under the ground not allow the wood to breath or something to that effect trapping the moisture that otherwise would have escaped?

DIY - I used another piece of painted plywood as the top cover (actually two pieces that fold open). I do have landscape fabric under the plywood bottom of the box (not for any particular reason other than I had it laying around and thought it might help keep moisture from rotting away the bottom). Perhaps I should just pull the whole thing up, take the bottom plywood off, and use a landscape fabric bottom? The only reason I used the plywood bottom was to keep my son from digging too deep and mixing the sand with clay and dirt.

This weekend, we are going to be putting stone block edging and filling in with pea gravel the area surrounding the current location of the sandbox (under deck stairs where grass won't grow well). Do you all think that just setting the box on top of the pea gravel and using only landscape fabric for the bottom will allow me to keep the top and still provide adequate drainage to keep the sand dry?

Thank you both for the comments and advice. Seems like a simple thing to deal with, but I'd rather redo this thing once rather than spend time (and money) with trial and error.
 
  #5  
Old 05-30-06, 02:41 PM
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Not a pro but definitely would go for no plywood on the bottom and only the landscape fabric. Google "build a sandbox" and read up on some stuff just to give you some ideas.
 
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