How to Amend Your Soil

A beautiful garden starts from the ground up


Greg Speichert of Hill Top Gardens at the University of Indiana shows us how to amend soil in this informative video. Indiana has a lot of clay-heavy soil.

Clay soil exists in much of the United States. It becomes oversaturated during rainy seasons but retains little water during dry spells—both of which cause problems for many plant species.

How to Improve Soil

Soil is a combination of organic material, silt, sand, and clay. Clay is a special problem in that it can become very hard, too wet, or too dry very easily.

You’ll need

  • Sand
  • Hard work cloth
  • Wood chips, sifted
  • Compost (click to learn how to make great compost)
  • Leaves, wet or dry
  • Shovel
  • A rototiller, if you have one
  • Heavy-duty clothes

Steps to amend soil

  1. Break up the ground. The best recommendation is to do “double digging,” which means to loosen the ground to the depth of two shovels.
  2. Add the sand to the ground.
  3. Add your organic matter one at a time, and mix it in (wood chips, compost, and leaves—the order doesn’t matter).
  4. Turn everything over, and incorporate all materials evenly, mixing it together with the sand/soil mix.
  5. If you have one, use a rototiller to till the soil; otherwise keep using your shovel with the double-digging method, or use a broad fork or some other tool to help break everything up.


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