How to Till Topsoil


Tilling is the process of loosening the soil by digging and turning over the soil. Tilling is only necessary for the first 8-10 inches of the ground, called the topsoil. When tilled, the ground is loosened, weeds are destroyed from being dug up in the process and the ground is prepared for amendment. Plants are better able to thrive in topsoil that has been soiled--the loose ground allows them to better establish their root systems. Usually tilling is done in the spring before planting. Till the areas you wish to plant in on a day when the soil is dry and warm.

Step 1

Till the soil with a rototiller or rake 8 inches deep, working until the soil is a workable consistency. If using a rototiller, let the tines dig into the soil until the depth is met. If using a rake, remove soil by breaking up the soil with the tines of the rake until the depth is met.

Step 2

Till soil, continuing in a straight line, completing one row at a time. At the end of each row, turn and continue tilling to the opposite side.

Step 3

Remove weeds and rocks from the soil by sorting through it by hand.

Step 4

Empty bags of compost or manure into a wheelbarrow.

Step 5

Shovel 2 to 3 inches of compost or manure onto the top of the soil, removing it from the wheelbarrow with a shovel and placing it on top of the tilled soil.

Step 6

Till the compost or manure into the soil by re-tilling the area, working in rows, until the area is completely tilled.

Step 7

Drag a rake back and forth across the soil until it appears even to level the soil.

Step 8

Water the soil well until it appears saturated.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Rototiller
  • Compost or manure
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow


  • Testing and Improving Your Soil
  • Denver County Extension Master Gardener
Keywords: till topsoil, amending soil, loosen soil

About this Author

Sommer Sharon has a bachelor's degree in IT/Web management from the University of Phoenix and owns a Web consulting business. With more than 12 years of experience in the publishing industry, her work has included "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "MORE," "Country Home," "Midwest Living," and "American Baby." Sharon now contributes her editorial background by writing for several Internet publications.