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How to Improve Garden Soil

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil – but you don’t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

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Good soil is the key to successful gardening, and the key to good soil is organic matter. It's what makes soil loose, dark, and rich. The organic matter that gardeners use most often is compost. No matter what you're growing or what kind of soil you start with, compost will make plants grow better. Clay soil will drain better. Dry, sandy soil will hold more water. In vegetable and annual beds, add more every year before planting. In shrub and perennial borders, mix it in before planting. Heavy clay is difficult to till up, so amending it may not be easy. The trick is to do it when the soil is at just the right level of moisture, slightly moist, so that a clod will crumble when squeezed. A power tiller is far better than trying to amend soil manually. Rent one if you don't own one. Once you get soil amended for the first time, it will never again be as difficult to work and future amendments will be a snap. Most garden centers sell bagged compost. Another source is municipal compost, which is usually high quality and inexpensive if you buy in bulk. Good soil is the key to successful gardening, and the key to good soil is organic matter. It's what makes soil loose, dark, and rich. The organic matter that gardeners use most often is compost. No matter what you're growing or what kind of soil you start with, compost will make plants grow better. Clay soil will drain better. Dry, sandy soil will hold more water. In vegetable and annual beds, add more every year before planting. In shrub and perennial borders, mix it in before planting. Heavy clay is difficult to till up, so amending it may not be easy. The trick is to do it when the soil is at just the right level of moisture, slightly moist, so that a clod will crumble when squeezed. A power tiller is far better than trying to amend soil manually. Rent one if you don't own one. Once you get soil amended for the first time, it will never again be as difficult to work and future amendments will be a snap. Most garden centers sell bagged compost. Another source is municipal compost, which is usually high quality and inexpensive if you buy in bulk.