How to Rototill Clay Soil for a Garden


According to Ohio State University, the first step to improving the quality of garden vegetables is to improve the soil. Soil that is heavy clay retains water and will not allow plants to grow well. Soils such as this appears rock hard when dry and slippery when wet. To improve the soil, the first step is to mix soil amendments into the garden with a tiller. But care must be taken when tilling clay soil.

Step 1

Wait until clay is not too wet to till or too dry. Dry soil is rock-hard and difficult to till. Tilling wet soil will compact the soil and create clods that stick together.

Step 2

Break up the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 8 inches by running the roto tiller in sections over your garden.

Step 3

Spread compost over the soil of your garden to a depth of 2 inches.

Step 4

Turn the compost into the soil by running the rototiller over the garden soil again.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Spading fork
  • Compost


  • Oregon State University Extension: Growing Your Own
  • Garden Soil
  • University of California: Managing Clay Soils in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Campbells: Managing Clay Soils
Keywords: rototiller operation, clay soil, amending the garden

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.