Preparing and Improving Garden Soil
Review these five ideas to improve your garden soil, to learn more, click here.
Basic Steps Will Help Improve Most Soils:
1) Timing: Work the soil in the fall or the spring when it is moist, but not wet. Test the
moisture content by taking a handful of soil 3 inches deep from the garden. Squeeze it firmly and
drop it on the sidewalk. If the ball shatters it is a good consistency to work.
2) Organic Material: Adding organic matter to soil will do the most to improve the soil
structure, workability, and productivity. Look for inexpensive organic matter such as leaves
gathered in the fall, needles from conifers, sawdust, bark chips, and composted materials.
Manure can be used, but may contain weed seeds. Peat moss is effective, but can be
3) Rototilling: When the soil is dry enough to work, spread a thick layer (2 to 6 inches) of organic material and some
nitrogen fertilizer over the soil. A rule of thumb for nitrogen is 1 quart of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) per 100 square feet
of area, per inch of organic material. Rototil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Do not over work the soil to a fine dust. Leave
marble-sized particles and then use a rake to pulverize large clods and level the area.
4) Soil Amendments: Lime should never be added to our alkaline soils in Utah. It is used in humid areas to help
neutralize acidic soils. Gypsum is sometimes promoted as an alkali cure. It has its place in reclaiming sodic soils, but will not greatly alter soil structure or workability. The best soil amendment is organic material.
5) Hauling Soil: It is generally better to work with the soil you have. Soil brought in may have other, more severe problems. It may bring in weed seeds or cause interface problems in the garden. To raise or cover an area, inspect the fill soil, if possible, to make sure it is desirable.
Possible Organic Material
|1. Sawdust and/or||Horse Stables; Cabinet Ships; Saw Mills|
|2. Leaves||Fall leaf collection; Neighbors|
|3. Wood chips||Tree care companies; Garden centers|
|4. Compost||Landfills; Garden centers; Backyard Pile|
|5. Peat Moss||Garden Centers|