Soil Preparation

Organic amendments will help correct soil deficiencies in a new garden plot.
DIG147_Plant-tone-organic_s4x3

DIG147_Plant-tone-organic_s4x3

In many new housing developments the topsoil has been scraped away and sold, or heavy equipment has compacted the soil. You can help correct your soil's deficiencies by adding soil amendments such as compost, manure, peat moss and other organic material. Inorganic amendments – such as sand, phosphorus or gypsum – may also be necessary. Broadcast amendments over the soil to a depth of 2" to 3".

Your soil may also benefit from the addition of a slow-release fertilizer. Greensand, a popular amendment, contains potassium, iron and other nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. Gypsum supplies calcium and is said to loosen clay soils.

Once you've broadcast the amendments over the soil, use a rake to distribute them evenly. Use a rototiller or cultivating fork to incorporate them. Dig into the soil as deeply as possible: at least 12" to 18".

Never dig or till wet soil – you could destroy its structure. Hold a ball of soil in your hand and compact it. If it crumbles easily, you can cultivate the soil. If the ball stays compacted, it's too damp, and you should wait another day or two.

Once you've incorporated the amendments, you're ready to plant.

Next Up

Soil Preparation for Perennials

Perennial plants live in the same place for many years, so it's important to start them out in good soil.

Fertilizer Facts

Learn key basics about fertilizer that will help you select the right type based on your soil composition and growing conditions.

The Benefits of Compost

Often called "black gold," compost is valued for giving plants a boost when added to the soil of garden beds. Learn how to give your compost pile the jumpstart it needs.

Fall Soil Preparation

Learn how amending garden soil in the fall can make things a lot easier come spring.

Simple Soil Tests

A few simple tests can determine what you need to do to help your soil and improve your gardening results.

Organic Plant Health Care

Learn how to add some compost and compost tea to organic plants instead of fertilizer.

Organic Garden Additives

Instead of using store-bought chemicals, organic gardeners take a simpler approach to fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Effective versions of each can be mixed up using ingredients already close at hand and a basic kitchen blender.

Organic Gardening

Learn about some of the unusual but effective practices of organic gardening.

An Eco-Friendly Way to Win the War against Weeds

Keeping weeds from crowding your squash crop doesn't have to mean lots of harsh chemicals. Here are some natural, easy solutions from DIY.

How to Make Compost Tea

Give your garden the benefits of compost and organic fertilizer with less work by brewing and using compost tea.

Stories We're Following

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.