How to Till North Carolina Clay Soil


The singer who once wrote that breaking up is hard to do may have been a gardener in North Carolina. Although North Carolina has over 400 soil types statewide, piedmont soil with a heavy clay substrate is the most common soil found throughout North Carolina. The soil can be improved by mixing organic amendments such as compost into it. But first, you must break up the clay, which is slippery when wet and rock-hard when dry.

Step 1

Time your project for late spring when the soil is moist but not wet. Tilling wet soil will cause it to compact.

Step 2

If your soil is still wet, break it up by digging with a spading fork. Turn the soil over and break up clods with the fork.

Step 3

Allow exposed soil to dry in the sun and air.

Step 4

Mist the soil to soften it and then let it dry again.

Step 5

Rake the soil to break up the remaining clods.

Step 6

Break up the soil more thoroughly using a rototiller. At this point, you can spread organic amendments over the surface of your oil and turn them under with the rototiller. In the future, the presence of these organic amendments will make it easier to till your damp soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Spading fork
  • Garden hose
  • Misting nozzle
  • Rototiller


  • University of Califronia Extension: Managing Clay Soils In The Home Garden
  • University of California Extension: Clay Garden Soils Require Special Care
  • North Carolina State University: A Look at North Carolina Agriculture

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: Gardening in Cumberland County CAN be successful
  • North Carolina State University: Bed Preparation and Fertilization Recommendations
Keywords: tilling soil, clay soil, North Carolina soil

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."