Tilling a garden before planting can allow for critical nutrients to settle in the soil before plants are added. However, the tillage process is gardening is not as straightforward as it may seem, and there are existing common questions about the practice.

how to till a garden

So, let’s take a look at a few of those questions (and answers) as we examine how to till a garden.

When is the Best Time to Till a Garden?

Improving existing soil through tillage is best done in the fall season. Adding soil amendments and tilling them in the fall allows them to mature in the ground throughout the winter and will prepare the garden to receive new plants the following spring. If you’re looking to create a new garden, you can begin tilling when the ground is warm enough and the soil is in a workable condition.

How to Till a Garden

1. Remove Debris

There’s a chance the area of land you’re looking to till is loaded with tall vegetation, long weeds, and/or debris. Leaving tall plants or other debris on the area of land that’s going to be tilled could stand in the way of a successful process and could damage your tillage equipment.

2. Perform a Soil Test

Tilling a garden is a great way to incorporate compost and other nutrients into the soil. Therefore, before planting, it’s a good idea to get a soil test and then amend the soil according to the results of the test.

3. Check Your Soil

Before tilling, collect a handful of soil and try to squeeze it into a ball shape. If it forms into a ball, poke it. If it stays together, your soil is likely too wet to work and could plug up your tiller with mud. On the flip side, if the ball of dirt falls apart when being poked, it’s likely in a good condition to be tilled.

4. Begin Tilling

If you’re using a tillage attachment on the back of a riding mower, raise the tiller and engage the drive. Then, slowly lower the tiller and drive forward. If the soil appears to be too fine after a pass, increase the travel speed of the tractor. If the soil is too rough, decrease the speed of the tractor. As always, be sure to follow all safety advice that’s on the equipment itself and inside the safety manual.

Equipment for Tilling Your Garden

If you’re interested in tilling a garden, there are a number of different equipment options that can be taken into consideration. Visit our tillage equipment page or contact your local John Deere dealer for answers to any questions you may have on the equipment or tillage process itself.

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