How to Prep Soil for Gardening

How to prep soil for gardening begins by first assessing your soil. Good garden soil is a dark brown color and easily falls apart when turned over. If you have such soil, a yearly addition of 2 to 3 inches of compost or an application of slow-release garden fertilizer is enough.

Poor soil is pale in color, may be porous and sandy or heavy and clay-like. Both types of soil should be amended generously. Add 4 to 6 inches of organic products, such as compost, sphagnum peat moss or a combination of top soil and amendments.

Before buying amendments, measure the length and width of your space to figure out the square footage of your area. Compost, top soil and sphaghum peat moss are available in bags in retail or garden centers. Look for quantity suggestions on the bag, based on square footage.  A shovel or spade will work fine to dig in the amendments.

When your area is quite large, you may want to rent a rototiller and/or order materials in bulk.  Bulk materials are ordered by the cubic yard, which is 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet, and delivery fees may apply. Plan ahead. Some areas restrict where materials can be dumped. You may need a wheelbarrow to move materials to the desired location.