Gardening Basics: 4 Steps On How To Till Soil

A rake tilling soil

Many beginner gardeners tend to skip tilling because it is either they know little to none about it, or they take it for granted. Regardless, there are certain situations that require you to till your soil to keep it in pristine conditions.

Tilling is a requirement for specific soil and plants, for others you don’t necessarily have to till. Below we will go over the fundamentals of tilling and also cover the 4 simple steps on how to till your soil. Let’s get to it!


What Exactly Is Tilling?

Tilling is the process of preparing your soil before planting in it. This process can be done in several ways including digging, raking, stirring, hoeing, and many more.

In agriculture applications, you will see tillage tractors for this.  The purpose of tilling soil is to effectively mix organic materials into your soil. Tilling also helps control excess weeds from growing any further and also loosens parts of the soil for easier planting.

In addition to those attributes, tilling breaks up crusted soil as well, which prevents oxygen diffusion that is harmful to the microorganisms in your soil and to your plants as well.

A tractor tilling soil.


When To Till Your Garden?

It is highly recommended that before you learn how to till your garden, you must know the right time to do so first because it is not all the time that you need to till your garden, and there are certain conditions you want to avoid as well.

Most gardeners choose to till at dry conditions, just enough for the soil to be warm enough for tilling. Not following these two conditions will only do more harm than good to your soil and plants. So, do not think about risking it at all.


How To Know If Soil Is Dry Enough For Tilling?

Crumple the soil and see if it falls apart after opening your hand. If it falls, it is in the perfect condition to be tilled. If not, then it is simply not the time for tilling.


How To Know If Soil Is Warm Enough For Tilling?

Stick your finger in the soil and if you cannot hold your finger in for at least one minute because it’s too hot, then that is an indicator that it is too hot to be tilled. If you have a measuring tool, see to it if the temperature of the soil is around 15 °C. Temperatures around that are compatible for tilling.


4 Simple Steps On How To Till Soil


1) Find A Good Area

Finding a decent area where you can work with ease is the very first step to successful tilling.

Locating your soil to a good area where there will be no disruption such as pests, animals, and others, will make it easier for you to work with your soil. Have a close inspection as well to see if the area you have chosen is suitable for soil to be added.

A perfectly tilled backyard
Image From: Stratosphere

2) Start Tilling In One End

The same you would mow your lawn, you do the same formation with tilling as well. This creates an organized path of tilling.


3) Till Thoroughly

Take time to till your soil as efficiently as possible to make the most out of your efforts. Improperly tilling or not doing it right will only destroy your soil in the long run, which means your plants could die and you will have to start all over again.

So, to prevent this you must take time and consistently till correctly in each row.


4) Be Consistent The Entire Process

It is highly recommended that you do not go back and forth with tilling, this is because excessive tilling will only ruin your soil by making it compact. So, you must be consistent in tilling correctly from start to finish to avoid complications.

a gardener tilling dirt while wearing brown boots on his feet
Image From: Love To Know

Frequently Asked Questions About Tilling


Can Tilling Damage Soil?

As mentioned, tilling can damage soil if not done right.  Moreover, the process alone involves destroying soil structure already.  It can increase soil compaction as well since it breaks apart everything. There is a lot of harm tilling can do to your soil. So, make sure you do it right to prevent all of these from happening.

How To Till Soil Without A Tiller?

You can dig a trench in your garden. It can be 12 inches deep or less if you’d like. Use a wheelbarrow to put your soil in, and dig another 12-inch trench.  Turn it over until properly tilled.

Should You Till Soil Before Planting?

Yes you definitely should, and make sure the soil is properly tilled because if not, then you might want to reconsider proceeding because this can only do more harm than good to your plants.

Can I Till Wet Soil?

It is discouraged to till wet soil because it will only lead to compaction. This is the reason why tilling should be done when soil is hard and warm.

Can I Plant Right Away After Tilling?

This is a great question! You should wait for the soil to stop forming clumps first, and also wait for it to dry up. There is also a chance that weeds might start growing.  Make sure to remove weeds before you start planting to avoid complications as your plants grow.


Final Thoughts On How To Till Soil

By now, chances are, you are stuck in between if you should or should you not till your soil. This all goes down to personal preference. The way I till my soil is by doing the steps above with consistency as my main focus so that I do not turn my soil compact.

Tilling can be risky, and it does take some time and effort. You can use tilling tools to help you if you want to save some time. But if you find that tilling is simply not for you, then do make sure to continue soil maintenance as your plants heavily depend on your soil’s condition.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask below!

About Ador Flores

Greetings! My name is Ador Flores, and I have been in love with nature ever since I was young. I bet you can agree when I say that mother nature tends to astonish you as well. While I may not be able to create mountains, waterfalls, and other majestic landscapes in my backyard, one thing is that I can for sure mimic nature by having a beautiful garden at home. Just from this simple mindset, it did not take long for me to turn gardening into a passion - a passion that changed my life forever. With the experiences I have had with gardening throughout all these years, I can definitely assure you that gardening is for everyone and I would love to share with all of you guys how fulfilling it really is! With the help of Seasonal Preferences, let us all become better gardeners and continue to promote a green and clean environment!

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