The Art and Science of Soil Preparation for Healthy Gardens

soil preparation is essential for a healthy garden

The soil in your garden is half rocks and minerals that were reduced to small particles, and half organic matter: dead leaves, grass, insects, plants, etc. As experienced Greenville landscaping contractors know, there is no perfect soil with just the ideal proportion of these elements. This is why careful garden soil preparation is essential for all your plants to thrive.

Let us explain the beautiful art and precise science of making your soil adequate for nourishing all your trees, shrubs, plants and flowers.

First Step: Assess the Type of Soil You Have in the Garden

Soils come in three types:

  • Sandy – it has a gritty feel to the hand, because it contains large rock particles
  • Silty – in contains medium sized rock particles and feels soft and smooth to the touch
  • Clay-based – it has very fine particles and feels sticky (like play dough) when wet and rubbery when it is moist

The ideal soil composition has a mix of all these three types and it is called loam. Thankfully, this is exactly the type of soil found throughout all South Carolina.

Now that you have identified your type of soil, you can start preparing it for your garden. Here are the essential tasks you need to perform:

1. Remove Rocks and Debris

If you are just breaking ground for the first time, you must remove anything that could prevent your plants from growing. Old roots, rocks, plastics and other wastes that may have been embedded in the soil are the enemies of a beautiful garden.

It is hard work, but it is a labor of love. Once the soil is clear, it is one step closer to becoming your magical garden.

2. Loosen the Soil

Garden soil preparation continues with loosening, up to a depth of about 8 inches. This will allow seedlings and other newly planted shrubs and plants to develop a healthy root system.

The roots keep plants firmly anchored to earth and retrieve nutrients from the soil. Thus, you need to give them a good helping hand while they are young and frail. Otherwise, the roots will not be able to reach deep enough into the soil, and the plants will not thrive despite your best efforts.

applying mulch helps protect the soil from weeds taking root

3, Nourish the Soil with Organic Matter

Any experienced Greenville landscaping contractor will tell you that you should not rely only on the organic matter naturally occurring in the soil. It is quite possible that the soil was previously used as a lawn, which often depletes it of many nutrients.

Also, your own plants will continue feeding on the soil. And the rate of consumption far exceeds nature’s ability to replenish the soil with organic matter. You need to give mother nature a helping hand and spread compost on the soil.

Ideally, you should apply a 1-3 inches layer of compost every year, preferably in spring or fall, before planting your garden.

4. Add Some Mulch

Mulch is essential for garden soil preparation because it seals in the moisture and protects the useful microorganisms that live in the soil and help plants thrive (much like the healthy bacteria in the human gut).

Also, adding mulch prevents weeds from growing, so that you won’t have to spend a lot of time weeding your garden. As for the types of mulch you should use, it depends on what you grow in your garden.

For the vegetable patch, use leaf-based mulch, such as composted leaves from last autumn and grass clippings. If you have flower beds and shrubs, they favor wood chips mulch. It also gives the garden a neat, rustic look.

5. Avoid Soil Compaction

Last but not least, avoid gardening immediately after a heavy rain. When you step on the wet soil, it will become compacted, and this is detrimental to microorganisms, because they cannot get sufficient oxygen.

Plus, hardened compact soil is more difficult to work on than loose soil.

Contact Our Greenville Landscaping Contractors for Help with Garden Soil Preparation!

From natural soil nutrients to complete garden design, our experienced Greenville landscaping contractors are ready to help you anytime you need us.

No job is too big or too small for us, so call us today to get a free estimate at 864-635-2560!


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