Florida Storm Prep: Alternatives for Sandbags

sandbags available in florida

Sandbags are usually convenient (and free!) from local distribution sites when heavy rains or a storm is on the way. But what do you do when sandbags sites aren’t open, you can’t pick up sandbags during operating hours or storm prep falls on a holiday weekend (I am talking to you Elsa) – you think outside the box! ….er bag?

There are other options to deter flood waters besides sandbags. Here are a few of our favorites:

Bags of Soil or Mulch

Some emergency management departments actually recommend using bags of soil or mulch in preparation for heavy rains. Bags of landscape soil or mulch are typically plastic, not woven like sandbags, so they don’t allow water inside the bag … or your home. Plus, if they do have to step up to the plate and keep water out, they won’t be terribly heavy to relocate once the storm has passed. Have you ever picked up a wet sandbag? Neither have I, because I asked my husband to do it for me. Now we are almost to the fun part: if you decide to use bags of soil or mulch instead of sandbags, you can reuse the bags in your lawn or garden for future projects! That is why bags of soil or mulch are my favorite option for water deterrent.

Spray Foam

Its formal name is: expanding urethane foam, but it is commonly known as spray foam. The City of Tampa tested a few different sandbag alternatives and spray foam proved to be the most effective to minimize water intrusion. Quite an interesting experiment, but it makes sense as a solution. However, it is probably not my favorite sandbag alternative, because if you don’t have a lot of clean up after the storm, you are guaranteed to have to clean up all the spaces you sealed with spray foam.

Yoga Mats

Stop laughing. Yoga mats were widely used after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas during the summer of 2017. They are thin and typically made of a spongy rubber, so they are perfect for filling small gaps, plus they expand after they are placed. If you didn’t make good on your resolution for better health in 2021 and your yoga mat is gathering dust, now is its time to shine!

Plastic Bags with Dirt

Take a trash bag or reuse a plastic grocery bag and fill it with dirt. Easy enough, right? You can tie the top of the plastic bag or use duck tape to keep it sealed. This alternative is basically a sandbag in disguise, but if time is of the essence, this will get the job done.


Using a plastic or poly tarp is an excellent option for keeping water out of your home. Use a tarp at the front door or another entrance and hold it in place with bricks or concrete building blocks. Tarps can easily be used again for many projects if water intrusion is not a problem or they can be used if there is damage to your home or roof as a result of the storm.

If there is no room on your to-do list to add “pick up sandbags”, consider utilizing alternative options to protect your property from unwanted storm water. Big Earth is open and ready to help you prepare for the storm with a variety of materials and ideas.


Bagged Soils

Top Soil 1cu Bag


Bagged Mulch

Brown Mulch