When summer finally comes back around,children are eager to play in their sand boxes once again. The sand they play in should be clean and pest free. A thorough cleaning before summer arrives and maintenance throughout the summer months is important for the welfare of children.
Things You Will Need
Mint or Basil
Litter scoop or slotted spoon
The first step in maintaining a sand box is to cover it somehow. A sheet of plywood works well for this. The thicker the plywood the better so animals can't make their way under it by bumping it out of the way or ripping it off like they may do with a tarp. Animals can be very persistent about getting what they want. The plywood should be sanded to prevent splinters and treated so it won't warp, rot and splinter due to the elements. Make a family craft project out of painting the plywood in fun ways to add a little fun to the cleaning chore. Keep the sandbox covered whenever children are not playing in it.
Clean the sand completely with an unused cat litter scoop or a large slotted spoon. While sifting through the sand, also spray straight vinegar into it. This will "clean" the sand and it works well for keeping insects, especially ants, out of the sand. If the sand box is large, this can be a daunting task so be sure to ask for help and take breaks. After the initial cleaning, it may only be necessary to spray the sand lightly with vinegar and mix it in once a week while cleaning out any debris as long as there are no pest problems.
Dig out an area approximately 12 inches from the sides of the sandbox. Plant mint or basil around the sandbox to repel summer insects such as mosquitoes, flies, ants and fleas. The mint will also repel rodents. Be sure to pinch off the flowers when they begin to grow so bees will not be attracted to the area. The plants will be fine if repeatedly pinched back to a height children can easily step over. Because these plants are edible, they won't harm the overly curious child who takes a bite or two of the leaves.
Spreading used coffee grounds in the soil around the plants will not only provide them with an organic fertilizer, it will help keep slugs and snails away because they don't like crawling over the grittiness.
Consider using cinnamon, it can also be laid out, in a solid line, around the outside of the sand box. Ants are exceptionally adverse to plain cinnamon and won't cross the line. The drawback with this method is that it will need to be repeated often unless you use cinnamon sticks. Even the sticks will need to be replaced periodically.