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How to improve your soil

Boost your soil quality by digging, forking and mulching, in our easy soil improvement project.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
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To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

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.

On the veg patch or areas of bare soil, consider growing green manures – these are seedling crops that are dug back in to enrich the soil. Don’t dig soil for the sake of it. Once planted, the ground can be enriched by mulching and allowing worms to help incorporate it.

Related content:

Grow better plants with this guide on improving your soil.

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You Will Need

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

Step 1

Digging over the soil

Digging over the soil

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

Step 2

Adding organic matter

Adding organic matterAdd 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. These organic fertilisers are more beneficial to soil bacteria than inorganic compounds.

Step 3

Digging in the organic matter

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

Step 4

Tread the soil to firm it back in

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

Step 5

Raking the soil to remove weeds and stones

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

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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.

Spade