Getting soil ready for the spring vegetable, flower or fruit garden requires making sure the soil drains well, has enough nutrients and is loose enough for plant roots to develop. This requires knowing how acidic the soil is and breaking apart the soil so that it is loose and friable. Soil amendments are added to improve the soil's texture and drainage, ensuring your garden is disease free, and it is a welcoming place for your plants to grow.
Test the pH of your soil to determine whether it needs acidity amendments, recommends the Arizona University Cooperative Extension. Soil testing requires sending soil samples from your garden to a soil testing lab, usually at a local university, or performing your own pH test using a home testing kit, following the packaging direction. Lab results will tell you how much and what kind of fertilizer amendments such as lime or sulfur are required to balance your soil's acidity.
Test the moisture of the garden soil before tilling or otherwise amending it, recommends the Arizona University Cooperative Extension. Take a handful of soil in your hand and squeeze it. If it sticks together in a ball it is too wet. Prepare the soil when it crumbles freely in hand.
Add 2 to 4 inches of organic material to the surface area of the lawn, suggests the Texas A & M University Extension. Organic matter includes leaves, compost, peat moss, grass clippings and bark.
Till the soil with the organic matter spread on top, down to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. Work to the 10 inch depth using several passes to prevent damage to the tilling device.