How to - Techniques

Three ways to prepare your planting beds

Karen York
Photography by
Cybèle Young (illustrations)

Determine what kind of garden you need and use these tips to get it ready for new plants

prepare-your-beds-3.jpgDougle-digging new beds
If your soil is really compacted and undernourished, double-digging is the traditional solution. It’s heavy work but the good news is you only have to do it once. It involves digging out a trench one spit deep (a spit equals the length of a shovel blade) across the end of the bed and piling the soil along the outer edge. The subsoil in the bottom of the trench is loosened, and compost or well-rotted manure worked into it at a rate of 20 to 25 percent of the volume of soil removed. A second trench is then dug alongside the first, using the soil taken from the second trench to fill up the first trench. This is repeated across the entire planting area, with the soil from the first trench being used to fill the last one. Break up the soil as you go, and remove any weeds and rocks. Subsequently, you should need only to mulch and top-dress with compost, letting the worms do the work of keeping the soil nice and friable.


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