First Time Gardeners – Preparing Your Garden Soil


Due to the weather this season I am off to a slow start. My gardens are in need of attention, they not only need to be nourished but also require some extra soil. I have already raked out the leaves, pulled the weeds and trimmed away the dead stems from last seasons growth. 

My next step is to loosen the soil, it is best to do this when the soil is moist which should not be difficult this year with all the rain. First I turn the soil with a shovel and then turn in 2-3” of organic matter. Each year I add a mixture of manure, peat moss and top soil to amend the soil. Loose, fertile soil will encourage root growth and health plants.

New Flower Bed

When preparing a new bed the soil should be turned to an approximate depth of 12”, topped with 2-3” of compost (or a mixture described above) and turned into the existing soil.

Existing Flower Bed

When preparing an existing bed, turn 2-3” of compost into the top layer of soil. Be careful not to disturb the root system of existing perennials and shrubs. Another reason I like to work with a mixture (described above) is that manure can burn the stems of existing and new plants. 

Your garden is ready for planting!  Don’t forget to water when you are done. 

One final step to consider, many gardeners apply 3-5 inches of mulch to hold in the moisture and to prevent weeds. I actually prefer the look of the black soil. I try to walk through my gardens a couple of times a week pulling weeds as I go. I suggest taking a little time to weed often to avoid the dreaded job of weeding the garden. 

Get out there and get your hands dirty. Good Luck 👩‍🌾

Note: When preparing a new garden ensure you are not digging close to any utility lines. Call before you dig.