Plan only as large a garden as you can easily maintain. Beginning gardeners often overplant, and then they fail because they cannot keep up with the tasks required.

Preparing the garden

Preparation-Direct Tillage

A new garden site can be successfully developed by direct tilling the existing sod. Initial site preparation can include moldboard plowing the site followed by rototilling. The soil must not be wet during any tillage operation. Tilling wet soil will damage the soil structure, affecting the soil’s productivity.

Garden sites can also be successfully developed by rototilling alone. Creating a garden site in an area of existing sod cover will require multiple passes of the rototiller. In general a 5 HP tiller, as a minimum, will be required. The initial tillage pass should be shallow, approximately 1-2 inches deep. Subsequent passes of about 2 inches in depth should be performed until the soil is tilled to a depth of 6-8 inches.

Row Orientation

An additional consideration is the orientation of the garden rows. Rows oriented north – south will receive more even exposure to the sun, minimizing the effects of plant shading. Attention needs to be paid to the slope of the garden area and the potential for erosion. Protection from soil erosion should take precedence over orienting rows for sun exposure. The use of organic mulches on erosion-prone sites may allow row orientation for maximum sun exposure.

Helpful Links


Preparing Garden Beds with Double Digging

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