In this guide we’ll take a look at the best kids sandpits for the UK market.
I’ve compared design, features, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
In this guide we’ll take a look at the best kids sandpits for the UK market.
What is the Best Kids Sandpit?
In a rush? Here's my top choice...
A classic favourite for the little ones!
This Little Tikes Turtle Kids Sandpit is a firm favourite. The sweet turtle design makes a great sandpit: the shell acts as a lid cover and the flippers double as little seats. It can hold 68 kg of sand which is plenty to play with. It's extremely versatile and could be used as a sandpit, ball pit, water trough or pond!CHECK PRICE →
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Kids Sandpit Reviews
Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox Review
If this Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox isn’t an absolute classic I don’t know what is. It’s one of those toys that pops up time and time again – in gardens, nurseries and schools – and seems pretty deserving of its popular status.
First of all, you only have to take a look at the little turtle’s charming face to know it’s going to be a hit with the kids, but it’s clearly been well designed in other ways too, making it practical as well as fun to look at.
The green plastic is sturdy all the way around, but there are also two ‘fins’ that act specifically as seats, so children don’t have to sit directly in the sand if they don’t want to (although, let’s be honest, they’ll probably end up covered in sand either way).
It can hold 68 kg of sand in total, and is a good size to allow a couple of toddlers to play at once, measuring 98 x 110 cm. Whilst adequately big, it’s not too large either, and should fit on the majority of small patios if necessary.
For the most part, everything seems to work as you would hope. However, when it comes to the lid, there are both pros and cons. It’s easy to remove and keeps rain water out, but it is not ‘clipped’ down in any way. It might be necessary to secure it in place when it gets windy, as there’s nothing really to stop it blowing off. For the most part though, it’s waterproof and will keep the sand dry.
As with a lot of sandpits, it can also be used as a small paddling pool. If you choose against buying sand one year, there’s no need for the turtle to sit forlorn, unused in the garage; it’s versatile too.
- Relatively cheap to fill: two bags of sand will cover the base and four will fill it to a good level
- The bottom is built in and doesn't require a separate liner
- Bright and engaging turtle design
- Large enough for two toddlers to play together
- The lid keeps water out and the sand dry
- The lid is made of thinner plastic than the rest of the sandpit
- Whilst the lid tends to stay in place, it does not 'clip' on in any way and may need to be secured during windy weather
KidKraft Pirate Sandboat Review
Ahoy there! This fun, themed sandpit offers something a bit different compared to basic models. The KidKraft Pirate Sandboat is sure to be a winner with any pirate-loving little ones, functioning just as much a play fort than a sand pit.
And, fortunately, the design isn’t only for aesthetics, but it’s practical too. There aren’t many sandpits that come with a built-in sunshade, but the ‘sail’ of this ship/sandpit hybrid also acts as a parasol.
One particularly nice aspect about this ship-shaped sandpit is that it is still useful even if there’s no sand inside – in either the summer or winter it can still be used as a fort and (partially) sheltered hang-out spot.
It has a ground footprint of approximately 199 x 112 cm, which is big without being excessively large, and can be used comfortably by at least three children at a time. There’s even ‘on board’ storage for toys, be they sand-pit specific or otherwise.
This size can hold approximately 300 kg of sand, so at least four bags will be required, but more can be used for additional depth.
When it comes to construction, full assembly is required, although there’s no base included so that’s one thing off the list (the sand is contained by a clear plastic liner). Otherwise, the structure takes around three hours to build, and the final product is stable and stands up well against the UK climate.
The main shortcoming of this sandpit (arr, me hearties, there had to be one!) is the cover. Instead of a solid cover, there is a fabric mesh covering that goes over the sandpit when not in use. On this plus side, this is easy to attach because it clips on with poppers, but on the down side, it doesn’t really protect the sand from bad weather, and may leave enough room for cats and other animals to get in still.
It’s one of the best kids sandpits in terms of imaginative play, because even when it’s not filled with sand it can be used as a fort, and it will likely encourage kids to play some creative, imaginative games as well.
- Shady canopy protects kids from the sun whilst they use the sandpit
- The assembly instructions are clear and easy to follow, making construction simply a methodical process
- Enough space for three children to play together
- Built in storage for storing sandpit toys or other garden toys
- A couple of screws are exposed after installation and may need covering
- Included cover is mesh fabric which may not entirely protect the sand from either rain or animals
- Roof canopy dips and stores rainwater on very wet days
Andrewex Large Wooden Sandpit Review
A lot of sandpits leave children exposed to the sun on hotter days, but this Andrewex Large Wooden Sandpit features a big sunshade that covers not only the sandpit, but also the surrounding two benches.
Made from treated wood, it’s one of the best sandpits in terms of clever engineering as well; the parasol can be lowered to double-up as a cover, and the two benches fold in, to create a fully protected sandpit.
The parasol is waterproof, as well as good for creating shade, which keeps the sand dry and should also help protect little ones if they get caught in a sudden shower whilst playing outside.
Plus, it’s another versatile sandpit, doubling up as a picnic area even if there’s no sand inside. You could even put a table in the middle for this purpose. There’s also storage under the benches, so different toys can be kept inside, ready to be used when the sandpit is opened.
In terms of appearance, the colourful wood and striped canopy give off a real ‘beach’ vibe, and it’s relatively compact, with the sandpit itself measuring 101 x 101 cm – these are the ‘footprint’ dimensions when it is all folded away.
One thing that some parents may like, whilst others might not, is the fact that children can’t uncover the sandpit by themselves. Unlike other models that have covers which are easy to remove, an adult will be required here because raising the sunshade is not so simple.
Another thing that might be less-than-simple is the initial assembly; it can help to have a drill on hand in case some of the pre-drilled holes don’t line up properly. Putting the whole thing together should take around three hours.
It can hold between six to eight bags of sand, depending on how full you want it, but there’s no base, so the sand sits on a ground sheet. It’s therefore impossible to move the sandpit once the sand is in.
- Folds down compact with no extra parts - the seats and canopy all fold in
- Can double up as a shady lunch spot thanks to the benches and canopy providing a covered seating area
- Small footprint of only 110 x 110 cm when everything is packed away
- Toys can be kept in the built-in storage area
- Lowering and raising the canopy may require two people to keep it level, if it's not kept level it may get stuck
- Once the sand is in it's not possible to move the sandpit as it does not have a solid base
- When the sandpit is covered, the storage area can't be accessed
Hexagonal Wooden Kids Sandpit Review
If you prefer to have wooden accessories in the garden, this Hexagonal Wooden Kids Sandpit by Big Game Hunters is probably the most attractive and unassuming option featured here. Its natural finish blends in, unlike brighter options that tend to stand out, and it’s one of the best kids sandpits if you’re after something more subtle.
The hexagonal design, made of smooth sustainably-sourced wood, creates a lot of places for kids to sit. Each of the six sides has a wide wooden ledge, acting as a bench for children.
Measuring roughly 150 x 150 cm, it covers the largest surface area of the sandpits featured here. The depth is 26 cm and it’s suitable for children from 18 months.
To give an idea of size, you can fill it with two 15 kg bags of sand to achieve a depth of about 10 cm. However, you’ll probably want quite a bit more in there to make it more fun for the kids.
In terms of keeping the sand dry (after all, there will probably be at least a weekly downpour, even in the summer, given that this is the UK!) there is a geo-textile base sheet and a green cover.
The cover will likely require weighing down, with bricks or something similarly heavy, as there’s no elasticated edge for keeping it in position. Alternatively, purchasing a separate piece of tarpaulin might be a better solution, and more waterproof.
Overall, this is one of the best sandpits if you’re keen to avoid bright or plastic options. Its basic design allows for plenty of sand, and for several children to play at once.
- Subtle wooden design blends in better with natural surroundings than colourful/plastic sandpits
- Large enough for approx. three children sit and play together
- The geo-textile base sheet keeps weeds out
- A 10 cm layer of sand can be achieved with just 30 kg of sand
- Two large ventilation holes on the cover let rain in
- The cover needs to be weighed down so that it doesn't blow off
- You may need a drill for assembly, as not all of the holes always come pre-drilled
Step2 Kids Table Sandpit Review
Options like the Kids Table Sandpit by Step2 offer different possibilities to standard sandpits; children don’t have to sit in the sand, they can engage in more ‘dynamic’ play, and it can even be placed inside if you have a large conservatory or similar space.
It measures approximately 91 x 66 cm and stands at around 41 cm tall, making it a good height for toddlers and small children.
The legs are sturdy meaning it can stand up to relatively rambunctious play, and it can hold approximately 20 kg of sand which goes to show how stable it is.
There are a lot of different features and design elements that make this sandpit table both versatile and exciting for kids. As mentioned, it can be placed inside or out, and it can also be filled with water to create a play trough if you don’t have any sand.
The lid has a moulded race track for toy cars, and secures onto the sandpit using elasticated ropes. It’s an effective way to protect the sand from cats, although some rainwater may still find its way in.
Two shovels, a bucket, and a two ‘scoops’ come included, which can be stored in the sandpit when the cover is on, ready for the next playtime.
It’s a good choice if you’d prefer your kids not to sit in sand (although, granted, they can still throw the sand everywhere by accident), and it’s a good height for children up to approximately six years old.
- Easy to put together, just needing to slot the legs into the corresponding holes in the table
- Heavy duty construction with sturdy legs that easily hold 20 kg of sand
- No need to buy additional accessories as two scoops, two spades, and a bucket come included
- Can be sufficiently filled with just under 20 kg of sand so you don't have to spend too much on sand
- The lid may still allow some rainwater to get in
- May be too low for children over the age of 6
Picnic Table & Sandpit Review
This Picnic Table & Sandpit by TP Toys is a great option for anyone short on space.
It doubles up as a mini picnic table, and when the lid is on, you can’t even tell that there’s a sandpit underneath.
The reason it’s good for small spaces is because it’s extremely multifunctional without being too large; the two trays that make up the sandpit can be filled with sand, or water, or simply used to keep craft supplies in. And it can also be used as a picnic table, of course.
Measuring 110 cm long by 102 cm wide, the benches are positioned 27.5 cm off the floor. The overall height of the table is quite low, at 49.5 cm, so you shouldn’t expect a full-size picnic table, but it’s ideal for pre-schoolers.
Four small children can sit around the table, either using the central and pit or doing at activity on the table top.
It’s constructed from sustainably-sourced pressure-treated pine/spruce wood. As a result, it doesn’t need to be treated again before assembly and should be protected against rot and insect infestation for several years.
Despite not needing to treat the wood, assembly can still take around three hours. The most important thing is to go carefully to avoid splitting the wood in the process.
Overall, this is a good table-top sandpit, especially if you don’t have much room for children’s activities. Given its many functions, as a a kid’s table, sandpit, drawing surface and water trough, it can save a lot of space compared to buying separate items.
- Relatively small so will fit either indoors or outside
- Space for up to 4 pre-school children to sit comfortably
- The plastic sand trays are easy to take out, making them simple to clean
- Can be used for both sand and water, as well as storing craft activities
- The bench is 27.5 cm high and therefore not too tall for younger children
- The wood can split during assembly so it needs to be put together carefully
- Not sturdy enough for adults to sit on
- May be too small for children older than pre-school age
Things to Know Before Buying a Kid's Sandpit
A garden sandpit is the next best thing to a day at the beach.
Children love them; they can get a bit messy and play using their hands. Sand pits also offer a great sensory play experience, too.
There are a huge range of sandpits on the market, suitable for a range of ages and garden sizes. It helps to know what to look out for, when searching for the best sandpit, so the following information should help you to make an informed decision:
Knowing how a sandpit can benefit your child can help work out what type of sandpit to look for. Here are a few ways that using a sandpit can be beneficial to children’s development:
First of all, starting with the very basics: sandpits provide another fun activity that will entertain the kids. They can be played with by kids on their own, as well as when friends are round. Plus, they’re a great item to have if you run a childminding business!
Playing in a sandpit with a friend is a great way for children to develop social skills and learn how to play and share with others.
They’re also ideal for creating ‘contained mess’. The sand usually (more or less) stays within the sandpit, meaning that playing in a sandpit can require less tidying up and preparation than indoor activities. This also allows children to have the freedom to play as they wish, without the normal restrictions and confines involved with making a mess.
What’s more, sand is so versatile that it offers kids the chance to be very creative and imaginative. It’s always great to find activities that encourage children to play and be inventive.
Some of the sandpits in my reviews below are not only limited to being used as sandpits; they can be extremely versatile, multifunctional items to have in the garden. You can find sandpits that double up as picnic areas with benches and shaded canopies, as well as themed play areas and paddling pools.
These not only benefit children by providing them with lots of possibilities for activities, they can also benefit you as well. Multi-functional items can save space and money because you don’t need to purchase separate toys.
Finally, sandpits offer an opportunity for children to partake in sensory play. But what is that and why’s it beneficial?
Sensory play refers to any type of play that encourages children to use their hands and their senses – touch, smell, sight and hearing.
A lot of the time these sensory activities will encourage children to think more analytically about what they’re doing, drawing conclusions and creating hypotheses.
Playing in sand allows children to experience different textures, whilst exploring how their actions have an effect on the world around them. They also need to learn new vocabulary and communication routes in order to talk about the sand and its movements.
There are a lot of different designs available when it comes to sand pits – they’re not just square plastic containers on the floor anymore! Here are a few of the styles available:
Sand tables may not be what you immediately think of when you think ‘sandpit’. But they are often extremely popular with children.
As the name suggests, these sandpits stand on table legs, positioning them at standing height for your child. They can be used both indoors and out and are easy to cover and tuck away when not in use. When covered, they usually act as a standard table, suitable for drawing on or playing other games.
Sand tables are compact, versatile, and can make playtime more dynamic compared to sitting in a sand pit. They’re generally less messy than ground-level sandpits (although children can still throw the sand over the sides!) because kids don’t sit directly in the sand.
One drawback of these tables is that the height is not generally adjustable, meaning your child may grow out of it quickly; you may not get as many years use from a table sandpit as a standard ground-level model.
A ground level sandpit is great if your child loves sitting in the sand – they will get to enjoy the feeling of the sand between their toes! However, this does tend to mean they end up pretty messy…!
These sandpits are great to allow children to have a fully immersive sandpit experience; they’ll likely play for longer periods in a ground-level sandpit than at a sand table. However, you will need to buy more sand for a ground-level sandpit.
Ground-level sandpits are really only suitable for use outdoors, so there will be rainy days in the summer when they’re out of action. This also means that the sand can get wet with rainwater if the lid is not sufficiently waterproof.
Be warned – if ground-level sandpits are not well covered, they can be used as litter boxes by wildlife and local cats.
Gone are the days when sandpits were purely sandpits – now they can be turtles, pirate ships, racing cars, fairy-tale castles… the list goes on.
If there’s a particular theme that you think will really inspire your child, you can likely find a sandpit to match it.
Themed sandpits tend to be a bit larger, particularly if we’re talking about castles, ships and cars, so they’re a bit more of a commitment in the garden. They’re also more of a financial commitment too.
However, these sandpits will often be extra enchanting and inspiring for children. Plus, you can often find themed options that are entertaining even when they’re not filled with sand – acting as a play fort or hangout spot.
Some of the best sandpits are multi-functional, offering opportunities for many different kinds of play.
There are sandpits that double as forts, as mentioned above, or tables, picnic benches, crafting zones and water troughs. Larger ground-level sandpits can also be used as paddling pools.
Given that the sandpit may not always be full of sand (you will need to empty it out occasionally), it can help to have a model that has other functions too.
One of the nicest things about sandpits is that they come in a range of sizes, so you should be able to find one that fits the space you have available.
Basic ground-level sandpits generally fit into small corners of the garden, but other designs can be bigger. You should carefully measure out how much space you have available, no matter what design you’re going for. When buying online, it’s easy to get caught off guard when it comes to the size of a product. Physically marking out the space required, using the dimensions in the specification, is the best way to get an accurate idea of size.
When it comes to ground-level sandpits, a sandpit of around 100 x 100 cm should be a suitable size for two children. A sandpit of minimum 150 x 150 cm should be suitable for three children.
With table-top sandpits, you will have to assess on a case by case basis to see if they are suitable for your child. The height of the table may not be adjustable, so the specifications need to be checked carefully to see if it will be too low or too high for your child.
If you’re short on space in your garden, buying a multi-functional sandpit could be a good move. Sandpits that double as tables could be a great option, for example. This way, you can be sure to get the most use out of it even when it’s not filled with sand.
Alternatively, if you don’t have much room, it can be a good idea to buy a self-contained plastic unit (with a base) that can be packed away when not in use.
Looking After the Sand
The play sand in sandpits shouldn’t be left to stagnate. You should rake the sand regularly to allow it to aerate. This will also allow you to pick out any rubbish or debris that you see.
If the sand doesn’t get washed by the rain, rinsing it occasionally with water will help keep it clean. This is why it’s important for sand pits to have sufficient drainage. Sandpits with a solid base may not have good drainage, so you may need to replace the sand more often as you won’t be able to rinse it.
The sand should be replaced periodically, regardless. Every one to two years you should buy new sand so that you are not constantly using the same stuff.
You should pack the sandpit away when it’s not in use during the summer months – even if this means leaving the structure out but storing the sand. Leaving the sand out for too long will risk it getting damp and eventually mouldy.
That’s the best plan, but of course it’s not always practical. You should therefore still ensure that the sandpit has a good waterproof cover to protect the sand from rain in the summer. This will give you a bit of leeway as you won’t have to gather up the sand as soon as the weather turns bad.
Try to only use the cover on dry sand. If it starts to rain and you want to put the cover on to stop the sand from getting more wet, remember to take the cover off again when the rain stops so that the sand can dry.
Tackling Bug Problems
Sandpits can require a little more upkeep than you might expect. Occasionally, insects get in and, whilst they don’t tend to cause too much of a health concern (unless they bite) it can be nicer to keep them out.
Replacing the sand will get rid of any insects that are present. Before doing this, you should work on making the lid of the sandpit more secure, and sealing any gaps, so that they don’t come straight back in.
Another method that some people employ is adding a bit of cinnamon to the sand. That’s right, cinnamon. Cinnamon is a natural insect repellent and can easily be raked into the sand. Of course, you must make sure that this will not encourage your children to eat the sand.
If you are leaving wood outside, you should make sure that it has been sufficiently weatherproofed. If the sandpit is made from pressure-treated wood, it will be protected from the weather and insects for a few years.
In general, you should make a habit of treating wood every few years to stop it from rotting.
If you opt for a plastic sandpit, try to find one which is protected against UV. If it’s not, the sun will cause it to fade and crack.
Staying Aware of the Sun
Sandpits can encourage children to spend a lot of hours outside, which we love. However, this does come with its own health hazards. In particular, sandpits can be very exposed to the sun which can cause sunburn.
Even on cloudy days the sun’s UV can creep through the clouds, so there are a few steps you should take to keep your child safe and happy. Here are some suggestions:
- Place the sandpit in a shaded area, be that under a tree, or in the shadow of a fence.
- Choose a sandpit that has a built-in canopy. Some canopies have UPF ratings which mean they block out UV rays instead of just creating shade.
- Check the UV index on very sunny days and don’t allow children to play in the sandpit in the middle of the day if it is very high.
Generally speaking, sandpits are either made of wood or plastic. Plastic sandpits tend to be self contained with a built-in base. Wooden sandpits can take on many more different forms.
Some people find wooden sandpits to be more pleasing to the adult eye than plastic ones. Unless painted, they are often neutral colours that blend in well with the garden.
There can be more variety with wooden sandpits a they can be built in as a part of a fort or climbing frame.
Generally, wooden sandpits don’t come with a built-in base so the sand will need to be placed on a ground sheet.
In terms of putting them together, wooden sandpits require more assembly than plastic models. You may need an electric drill to make holes if they aren’t pre-drilled. Plus, wooden sandpits likely won’t be able to be taken down over winter (unless you intend to painstakingly disassemble and reassemble it every year). You’ll need to treat the wood every couple of years to stop it from rotting.
Plastic models are usually more colourful than wooden ones, and may be ‘friendlier’ for younger kids. They don’t tend to have any sharp edges or hard surfaces in the same way that wooden sandpits might.
They’re also extremely easy to set up, generally requiring no assembly.
Plastic sandpits are often cheaper than wooden ones and they don’t require any maintenance. The most important thing is to make sure that the plastic is UV resistant so that it doesn’t crack or fade when exposed to the sun.
Finally, of course, there is the environmental impact of buying plastic. Some plastic sandpits are made from recycled materials but may or may not be able to be recycled themselves. It’s worth checking how you can dispose of the sandpit before you buy it – you may find one that is better for the environment than another.
Kids Sandpit FAQs
The best option is to buy play sand, intended for use in sandpits. Most DIY shops and large toy shops will sell this type of sand. It’s often cheaper to buy it in bulk in large bags, so consider stocking up. You should never use builder’s sand as it can contain additives and preservatives that could be dangerous for your child’s health. In addition, builders’ sand can stain clothes and is too coarse. You can use also use kiln dried sand, but this is quite fine so doesn’t make the best sandcastles!
Most sandpits state that they are suitable for children of 18 months +.
This seems about right – you want to make sure that your child will not eat the sand, and that they will appreciate the experience and the change of texture. Of course, you should always supervise children when they use any kind of equipment, just to make sure they are playing safely.
There are a couple of main steps to follow for basic sandpit maintenance:
- Regularly rake the sand in the sandpit in order to aerate it.
- Make sure to rake down to the bottom layer of sand – this can often get damp and shouldn’t be left to stagnate.
- Clear any debris or rubbish out of the sandpit.
- Cover the sandpit (when the sand is dry) in order to stop any cats or wildlife using it as a litter tray.
- If you do have to put the cover on when the sand is wet or damp, take it off at the next available opportunity to let the sand dry.
- Pack the sand and sandpit away for winter.
- Replace the sand entirely every 1 – 2 years.
- Rinse the sand often, when possible. If the sandpit has sufficient drainage, and does not get washed by the rain, use clean water to rinse it through every so often.
- If your sandpit does not have drainage, you will not be able to rinse the sand. You should change the sand more often.
Yes, your sandpit does need drainage. The sandpit needs to drain naturally to prevent it from becoming waterlogged in rainy weather. If there is no drainage, water will sit at the bottom of the sandpit and cause the sand to turn damp and mushy. It may ultimately grow mould.
Plastic sandpits may or may not have a drainage hole. If there is no drainage, you should change the sand more often. As will all sandpits, you should also frequently rake the sand in order to aerate it. This will help stop damp sand from sitting at the bottom.