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How to Clean Soil to Plant Seeds

By Lucinda Gunnin ; Updated September 21, 2017

Regardless of how much time and effort you may put into your garden, starting with poor soil will yield poor results when it comes time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Thankfully, a few relatively easy steps can be taken to make sure your soil is as ready to care for your plants as you are when the time comes.

Use a soil-testing kit to determine the viability of your planting area. Plants can be picky about the type of soil they will grow in. Levels of acid, amounts of nitrogen, and presence of ground pollutants can all directly affect the success of your garden. A soil-testing kit will tell you what you have to work with and then you can check the preferred requirements of the types of plants you wish to grow.

Break up the ground. Use a rotary tiller to cultivate the soil in the area you want to seed. This should optimally be done approximately two weeks before the time you intend to plant your seeds. This will not only break up the soil for easier planting, but it will also bring up any dormant weed seeds buried in the area.

Give the area a good soaking. Cultivating the area will bring quite a few dormant seeds up to the surface. By watering the area thoroughly, the freshly turned unwanted seeds will begin to sprout in about a week's time.

Spray the area down with a general purpose herbicide. Killing off all the unwanted vegetation will prevent it from competing for resources with your plants.

Cultivate the plot again just before planting. Using a rotary tiller to break up the ground will loosen and aerate the soil, allowing your seeds to have the easiest time growing and making for the best crop.


Things You Will Need

  • Soil-testing kit
  • Rotary tiller
  • General purpose herbicide
  • Hose

About the Author


Lucinda Gunnin began writing in 1988 for the “Milford Times." Her work has appeared in “Illinois Issues” and dozens more newspapers, magazines and online outlets. Gunnin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Adams State College and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.