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Home > Types of Gardening > Backyard Gardening > Tilling in Backyard Gardening
Tilling in Backyard Gardening
Tilling in Backyard  GardeningThe effects of watering, settling, and pressure eventually compact the mineral particles in the soil, inhibiting water movement to various degrees. Soil must be loosened to allow air circulation to the roots. Plant roots require oxygen to function properly. Small air holes in loose soil allow efficient water drainage and the introduction and circulation of needed oxygen. Till, fork, or spade soil about eight inches deep to soften it and break up large clods. It is not necessary to over-prepare the soil - marble sized particles can be smoothed away with a rake.

Many gardeners damage soil by rushing to prepare it before it is dry enough. Test to see if the soil is dry enough to work. Take a handful from about three to four inches beneath the surface, and compress it into a ball. Toss it up and down in your hand or drop it on a hard surface. If the ball shatters, the soil can be worked. If it does not shatter, do not try to rototill.

Till as deeply as possible to break up the soil beneath. If a garden is tilled to the same depth each year, a hardpan layer may develop just below the usual tilling depth. Hardpan forms an impermeable "floor" where water accumulates and cannot soak through. Plants do not grow well unless this layer is penetrated and broken up.
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