Without the right soil, a garden can be doomed from the very start. Top soil, as the name suggests, is the upper level of earth. It should be full of nutrients, moist but not overly wet, and should be broken up well enough to allow seedlings to break through and form solid roots. Top soil full of clumps will make planting difficult and will put your plants at risk. Dealing with these clumps will help ensure a productive and healthy garden, whether you're planting flowers or vegetables.
Water the soil so that it is evenly moist and easy to manage. If necessary, wait for it to dry out a little bit after watering. Make the soil wet but not muddy.
Mix in sand with the soil if it is particularly hard or contains clay, such as the dirt found in the Southeast United States. The sand will also help prevent against erosion, which is a bonus.
Break up clumps with a shovel, hoe, rake and/or tiller. Softer clumps can be broken apart using your hands.
Add store-bought top soil, fertilizer and compost to prevent future clumping. This will also increase the overall health of the dirt and whatever plants you are attempting to grow.
Continue to water, fertilize and monitor your garden once you've planted. Make sure to break up clumps when you see them, first using just your hands if possible. This will prevent the disruption of growing vegetation.