Prepare Soil for Gardening: 5 Steps in Land Preparation

Newly Built Raised Vegetable Beds, Empty Beds with Prepared Soil

Soil preparation is an extremely important step for gardening. You might be thinking that gardening is an easy job by just digging a hole and plant your seedlings. Although it’s easy for most cases, but it is not always the case. You will have to properly manage your plant requirements and soil is the main source to fulfil the plant requirements.

You must need know that which soil is best for the plants and then prepare the soil according to this. If you want to obtain the best plant growth and production then you will have to follow appropriate steps to make the soil healthy and beneficial.

Mostly, beginner gardeners give up just because they can’t achieve their desired results in gardening. It’s because they don’t know even the most basics conditions for growing the plants.

One of the most important factors among them is a land preparation. If you prepare your land properly then you will obtain phenomenal production.

Do you know the procedure of soil preparation? Well, either you are a beginner or an expert gardener, this guide will explain 5 steps of land preparation in details. After reading this guide carefully, you will be capable to prepare soil like a professional gardener.

5 Steps in Land Preparation

You should first analyze your plant requirements to prepare the soil. Here are some examples that can help you find the requirements for your plants.

 Step 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5
PlantChoose Location /
Soil condition
Soil Health
(pH Level)
Soil TextureSoil NutrientsBest Soil Composition
BasilFull sun /
6.0 to 7.5MoistN-P-K Fertilizers &
Organic matter
Raised bed shape
ParsleyPartially sunny /
6.0 to 7.0LoamyN-P-K Fertilizers &
Organic matter
Pots & Bed with rows

Now as you know the requirements for the plants, as mentioned in the table, we will now prepare the land according to these. You will learn 5 steps in land preparation from basic to advance.

You will learn about the ideal pH and how to maintain that for your crop. Moreover, you will learn the complete composition of different chemical fertilizer for soil preparation such that which, why and how to add these fertilizers during the soil preparation to obtain maximum and beneficial results. Finally in last two steps, you will learn about the importance of soil structure, soil composition and soil amendment. So prepare soil by following these steps. If you follow all these steps then you will obtain advantageous and incomparable crop.

Step 1: Choosing the best garden Location

Location for planting does matter for the ideal growth. Do you think is it better to sow your crop on a random spot even without selecting a suitable place? No, not at all. You must select an appropriate place for planting your crop. Keep in mind the following points for choosing the best suitable site for your crop.

Plants in Sunlight

Preparing to grow a small tree on a sunny spot

To achieve the best results, your crops should obtain sunlight for at least 6 hours. It is best not to grow your crop under the shades. You might be thinking that shades are necessary for a few crops to protect them from a very hot climate. Yes, few crops require shades. However, in a specific time span, they also require sunlight for ripening the fruits. So there is no escape from sunlight. Therefore, you should grow your crop in a sunny spot where they may have direct sunlight and when shades require you can protect them by utilizing the shades. Greenhouses have the capability to get and prevent shades as per requirement. If you can purchase greenhouse then its best for gardening.

Picking up a good drainage site

You should provide well-drained soil to your crop for ideal growth. Never ever grow your crop on the soil which holds water every time. After the rain, where water is pooling then it’s mean that soil is not well-drained. Ideally, your garden land should be flat otherwise waterlogging can be occurred in your garden. Waterlogging is a severe problem and it will destroy your crop.

Avoid root system by digging

Low Section of Young Man Preparing Soil on the Garden

During land preparation, a tree’s root system can create subtle problems for the gardener. If you have enough space for gardening, then try to grow you crop 10-20 feet away from a tree. However, if you have small space then you can check the roots by digging the land. Where you don’t find any root, you can start planting. So try to avoid from root system as much as possible.

Step 2: Determining Soil Health

After selecting an appropriate place, next step is to test your soil for the pH and either land contains the best nutrients or not before land preparation. Which steps you should take to improve your soil. This will allow you to improve the fertility of the soil if required or prevent you from overloading it with different nutrients.

By testing, you can figure it out the pH of soil, amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Moreover, you can also test for soluble salts and soil texture, etc. However, these tests don’t reveal the possible diseases, insects and chemical residues.

How to test the soil?

Farmer Measuring Soil in Zucchini Plantation

There are two simple but important ways to test the soil. Firstly, the soil test kit is commonly used for testing the soil which is really inexpensive. If you have a small garden then it is recommended for you to purchase this from a local garden store beside your garden.

Secondly, you can contact the Local Cooperative extension service office of your country. These offer free or fairly cheap services to test the soil. For professional gardeners, this is a recommended method.

Appropriate pH for the soil

To measure the pH of the soil is very important before planting the crop. The pH affects the availability of minerals and nutrients and shows that either a plant is capable to absorb and regulate the enough amount of nutrients from the soil or not. Different plants require different level of pH. However, in most cases, the pH of the soil should be around 6.0 – 7.5. A very high or low pH leads to poor growth or even worse in some cases.

The pH range varies from 0 to 14. 0 shows extremely acidic, 7 shows normal and 14 shows extremely alkaline. Usually, the pH of the soil doesn’t hit the extreme level. In most of the cases, soil pH falls somewhere between 5 and 9.

How to adjust the pH of the soil?

After testing your soil, you will obtain the level of pH for your garden soil. If your soil pH is in the ideal range which is 6.0 to 6.5 (slightly acidic) then you don’t need to do anything. If your soil pH is high then lower the pH by adding peat, sulfur and different organic compound like compost or manure. If a soil test shows low pH then you can increase pH by adding lime or wood ash.

Step 3: Get required Soil Texture and Type

After testing the soil, you will be able to adjust the ideal pH level and essential nutrients for the crop. Prepare soil which is another important factor to attain exemplary crop. For example, soil having too much water can be a cause of fungal infections and resulting as root rot. On the other hand, if there is a deficiency of water, then it can be a cause of malnourished and resulting as dehydrated plants. There are three types of soil so different crop has different types of soil requirements.

Clay Soil

If you have clay soil then prepare soil by adding well-rotted compost, peat moss and add coarse sand to add texture to the soil. Garden soil should be well-drained to prevent from waterlogging.

Sandy Soil

If you have sandy soil then you should add peat moss, human and aged-manure, some extra nitrogen alongside sawdust. Moreover, you should also add heavy clay soil for the improvement of garden soil. Prepare soil such that water pooling can’t occur even after the heavy rainfall.

Silt Soil

To improve the nutrients of the silt soil, add well-rotted compost, aged horse manure, and coarse sand.

Common soil amendments

After fixing the soil texture everything is perfectly setup for growing vegetables

While preparing your soil, you should be familiar with these amendments and amend your soil when needed.

  • Compost: It lowers the pH of the soil and increases the nutrients.
  • Lime: It raises the soil pH and helps in loosening the soil.
  • Manure: It is a good conditioner and adds nutrients into the soil.
  • Peat Moss: It helps to retain water in the soil and have the ability to lower the pH.
  • Topsoil: it is not used alone and works with other amendments and use to replace existing soil.
  • Sand: it is used to improve the drainage of the clay soil.
  • Bark: By utilizing this you can improve the soil structure.

Step 4: Adjust Soil Nutrients

Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (P) are primary and essential nutrients for plants growth. When you buy a chemical/ synthetic package of fertilizer, then you can see three values parted with dashes like N-P-K. Each number specify the net percentage weight of these nutrients in the package.

Nutrients in the life of plants found in the soil.

Importance of Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is an extremely important element for soil. So enough amount of nitrogen should be added into the soil during soil preparation. It promotes stem growth and strengthens the leaf. It is a cause of dark green color such that it can be found in broccoli, lettuce, and herbs, etc. If you want to provide nitrogen to your crop naturally then add aged manure and apply alfalfa meal or seaweed. Fish and blood meal are other rich sources of nitrogen.

Importance of Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is a very essential element for soil. So enough amount of phosphorus should be added into the soil during soil preparation. Phosphorus is crucial for root development and early stages of plant growth. Moreover, it is also essential for the formation of seeds and fruits. For example, it is important for cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. Rock phosphate and bone-meal are the rich sources of phosphorus.

Importance of Potassium (K)

Potassium is an extremely important element for soil. So enough amount of potassium should be added into the soil during land preparation. It promotes root development and resists against diseases and stress. Moreover, it enhances the flavor and textures of fruit. It is crucial for garlic, turnips, radishes, and carrots. For increasing the potassium into the soil, add greensand, gypsum and wood ashes.

The most important point, every gardener should keep in mind, that don’t add an excessive amount of chemical fertilizer to the plant. Instead of benefits, it damages the roots and lessens the availability of other compounds. You can apply natural organic compound because these release their benefits slowly. However, don’t add fresh manure into the soil because it can also burn the roots and can be a cause of various diseases.

Step 5: Adjusting the soil Composition

Adjusting and composition of different organic compound are extremely important for garden soil. You have already learned about the importance of pH for the best growth of any crop. How to maintain the ideal pH level for the healthiest crop by adding the fair quantity of lime and sulfur if necessary. After testing, you figure it out that either clay, sand or another topsoil you should add to prepare the soil to attain the best possible mixture for your garden soil. Garden soil should contain a fair amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus as you have learned in this guide. If your test reveals the deficiency of oxygen in the soil then you should add gypsum or perlite which aerate the soil to improve oxygen content for garden soil.

Addition of organic material to prepare soil

Adding organic soil fertilizer

You can add organic material into the soil as much as you want. However, for preparation of the best garden soil, there should be half soil and half organic material. Organic material contains shredded brown and green leaves, vegetables, fruits scrap, and horse manure. You can also add wood chips into the soil. Although you can add fish and meat as an organic material into the soil, we recommend you not to add these scraps into your soil.

Mix organic material and soil with a shovel

Mostly, beginner gardeners don’t mix organic material with the soil well. After adding organic material into the garden soil, always make sure to prepare soil. Mixing may take 2- 3 times. For mixing, you should turn the soil again and again with stiller or shovel. If it’s not mixing well, you can add water slightly. This good mixture will grow the best lush green crop.

Flatten the surface and make bed or rows

Newly Built Raised Vegetable Beds, Empty Beds with Prepared Soil

After mixing the organic material with the soil, you should flatten your garden soil and keep your soil loose. You should walk onto the specified walkways. The distance between two seedlings various from crop to crop. Some crops require raised bad for their ideal growth, so try to provide them. Now it’s totally up to you, that which crop you want to grow. So try to plant them apart according to their requirements in different rows.

Now that, you know complete details of land preparation for the healthiest crop. If you follow these steps then you will obtain matchless yield.

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