How to Plow and Till a Garden


Planting a garden is not as simple as putting seeds into the ground, watering and hoping for the best. A properly prepared garden makes the growing season more productive and reduces the chance of disease and nutrient depletion. Part of proper soil preparation is the tilling, plowing or turning over of soil to help aerate the gardening area and add organic material. Proper tillage creates the right conditions for seed germination and improves the soil.

Step 1

Test your soil's pH level with a home pH tester or send soil samples to your local university extension to determine the nutrient needs of the soil. Purchase the correct fertilizer for your soil's needs.

Step 2

Break up the soil in the garden using the hoe. Test the moisture content of the soil by stepping in it. If the soil sticks to your shoes or the hoe, it is too wet to be tilled. When the soil crumbles into small pieces by hand, it is ready for tilling.

Step 3

Add fertilizer to the top of the soil. Run the rototiller along the gardening area to mix the top layer of the soil together with the fertilizer until the entire area has been touched by the rototiller blades. Do a pass in each direction to ensure proper mixing.

Step 4

Run a rake along the tilled soil to even it out and aerate it properly. This prevents compacted soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Till every other year to prevent compacted soil and loss of nutrients.

Things You'll Need

  • pH tester
  • Hoe
  • Rototilling machine
  • Rake
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Illinois: Spring Color Starts Now
  • AZ Master Gardener Manual: Soil Preperation
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Planting the Vegetable Garden
Keywords: plowing the garden, tilling the garden, soil preperation

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.