How to improve your soil

Do it:

Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

15 minutes

Digging and forking through the soil allows you to loosen any compaction, remove weeds and debris as well as providing the perfect opportunity to add the organic matter. Plants need good soil conditions if they are to give the best results. Improving the soil with plenty of organic matter in the form of compost helps drainage and aeration on heavy soils and conserves essential moisture on light ones.

You will need

  • Soil
  • Garden spade
  • Garden fork
  • Garden rake
  • Organic matter in the form of compost or well-rotted manure
  • Fertiliser


Dig the soil thoroughly, breaking up large clods or lumps to relieve compaction. It is best to use a spade for soil that has never been dug. Previously cultivated soil can be forked through to the depth of the tines.

Add home-made garden compost, bagged compost or well-rotted manure. As a rule, add a minimum 5cm layer of organic matter over the surface before digging or forking it in.

Dig over the soil deeply again to incorporate the organic matter, mixing it into the soil to the depth of the spade or fork tines.

Tread the area, using your heels to firm the soil. If necessary, break up large lumps of soil with the back of a fork. 

Rake the soil to remove stones and any rogue weed seedlings. This will also create an even layer for planting or sowing.


Don't attempt to do all your digging and soil improvement in one go. It's easy to overdo it and strain muscles, even if you are physically fit. Most importantly, do some gentle warm up exercises before you start and stretches when you finish.

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