How To Add Garden Soil (13 Proven Ways)

Soil is the foundation of a healthy garden, and the health of your garden soil is directly related to the quality of your produce. 

A rich, fertile soil will produce healthier plants with higher yields and help you avoid costly pest infestations. But how do you get started on such an ambitious task? Here are some easy ways to begin improving your garden’s soil today:

7 Super Cheap ways to add Nutrients to your Soil
Top 5 Proven Ways to Add Garden Soil
Improve Garden Drainage
Add Garden Lime
Add Garden Edging
Add Color to Your Garden
Add Instant Color to Your Garden

Know Your Soil

Soil is a mix of minerals, organic matter and air. It’s made up of mineral particles, organic matter and water. 

Soil texture refers to particle size — clay, silt and sand being the three main types — but it also contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are important for plant growth.

If you have sandy soil, you can add more clay by mixing in compost or peat moss; if your soil is too wet or too dry for plants to thrive in it alone (and not everyone uses pesticides), consider adding some bagged mulch from a garden center to help retain water until your plants are established enough to thrive on their own without any added fertilizers or amendments at all

 If your soil is too acidic, plants might not be able to get the nutrients they need to grow. Add garden lime to balance the pH, and make soil more alkaline. Learn more about adding garden lime to improve your soil fertility and plant growth.

Add Organic Matter

Organic matter is any material that was once living and has been partially or completely broken down. 

This includes plant and animal tissues, as well as decayed plant and animal remains. When the organic matter breaks down into smaller particles, it becomes humus.

The benefits of adding organic matter to your soil are:

  • Increased water-holding capacity (ability to retain moisture)
  • Improved drainage (the ability for water to penetrate a substance)
  • Better aeration (air movement through the soil)

Benefits of Adding Organic Matter to Your Garden Soil

Benefits of Adding Organic Matter
Helps retain soil moisture
Provides nutrients for plants
Improves soil structure
Attracts beneficial soil organisms
Enhances soil’s ability to buffer pH
Increases overall soil fertility
Reduces soil erosion and runoff
Improves plant growth and yield

Adding organic matter to your garden soil is an excellent way to improve soil health and fertility. It provides a variety of benefits, including retaining soil moisture, providing essential nutrients for plants, and attracting beneficial soil organisms. Organic matter also helps to buffer pH, reduce soil erosion and runoff, and improve overall soil structure, leading to improved plant growth and yield.

Balance Your PH

To ensure that your garden soil is ready for planting, there are some steps you’ll want to take. One important step is to balance the pH of your soil by adding lime or sulfur as needed.

Soil pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline (basic) the soil is. It can range from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline), with 7 being neutral. Most plants prefer a pH between 6 and 8. 

To determine if your garden soil needs adjustment, use an inexpensive kit from a home improvement store or online retailer like Amazon, which will test for pH in as little as 10 minutes without having to send samples off with an outside lab and waiting days for results back!

Excess water in your garden can lead to root rot, fungal growth, and other problems. Improve garden drainage by adding organic matter, using raised beds, and more. For more tips on improving garden drainage, check out our comprehensive guide.

Get To Work Composting

Now that you have a compost pile, you can start adding kitchen scraps and yard waste to it. This is the best way to improve soil in your garden. 

Composting is the process of decomposition, where organic materials break down into humus and other nutrients for plants. It’s basically a natural recycling system that produces rich, dark soil for plants to grow in.

Composting can be done either with a pile or bin; both methods work well and require very little maintenance on your part. 

Simply put all of your yard waste (grass clippings, leaves) into one area first; then add kitchen scraps (fruits and vegetable peels). When these materials are added together they create heat enough heat to kill any weed seeds or disease organisms that may be present in the trash heap!

Practice Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the practice of growing different crops in a given area in sequential seasons to reduce pest and disease problems, improve soil fertility, and thus increase yield. It also has the potential to reduce the risk of soil erosion by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted crops.

To keep your garden healthy and productive, follow these three rules:

  • Rule #1: Don’t plant your tomatoes where you planted onions last year! (And vice versa!)
  • Rule #2: Do not plant your cucumbers next to corn! (Or beans!) This can cause cross-pollination between the two plants and you don’t want that!
  • Rule #3: If you grow vegetables, try not to plant them all in one spot unless they’re compatible with each other. For example, broccoli does not do well when planted near tomatoes because broccoli’s roots can hinder tomato growth; likewise for lettuce which tends not to grow well near radishes due to similar temperature requirements.

Garden edging gives structure to flower beds, creates clean lines, and helps keep grass and weeds out of your garden. Learn about adding garden edging like a pro with our tips that include using stones, bricks, and other materials.

Lay Down Mulch

If your soil is sandy or rocky, you may want to lay down a layer of mulch before adding the new soil. Mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. It can also help keep down strong winds that might otherwise blow away your topsoil. 

There are many different types of mulch available from wood chips and shredded bark to leaves and grass clippings.

Benefits of Laying Down Mulch in Your Garden

Benefits of Laying Down Mulch
Helps retain soil moisture
Prevents weed growth
Insulates soil against temperature changes
Adds valuable organic matter to soil
Prevents soil erosion
Protects against strong winds
Reduces soil compaction

Laying down mulch in your garden is a great way to improve soil health and protect your plants. Mulch helps to retain soil moisture, prevent weed growth, and insulate soil against temperature changes. It also adds valuable organic matter to your soil, prevents soil erosion, and protects against strong winds. Finally, mulch can reduce soil compaction, leading to healthier plant roots and better overall plant growth.

Start A Cover Crop

Cover crops are a great way to improve your soil, but they can also be a bit overwhelming. Here’s how to start one:

Get a few different types of cover crops, and plant them in rows with at least 6 inches between plants (but closer is better).

Water them regularly until seedlings emerge. After that, keep the soil moist until the first harvest this will help prevent weeds from growing up around your new plants.

 If you’re planting in the fall or wintertime and want to avoid getting too much frost on the leaves of your cover crop, you may need to cover some areas with black plastic sheets or other sorts of tarping material so it doesn’t get too cold for long periods of time when nothing is growing underneath yet!

Once your cover crop has been growing for about two months (and has started turning brown), it’s time for harvest! This is easy: just pull up all those lovely green leaves off every stalk before turning them over into another section where there aren’t any yet

Adding color to your garden can create a more vibrant and inviting space. Discover 14 proven ways to add color to your garden, including planting colorful flowers, using bold garden art and furniture, and more.

Water Your Garden Soil Right

This is where things get a little tricky. You’ll want to water deeply and infrequently, meaning that you should apply enough water so that the soil is quite wet (but not drenched) for a few days after, then wait at least a week before watering again. 

The amount of water depends on the type of soil you have more sandy areas will need less frequent watering than heavy clay ones. 

Some plants like more moisture around them than others; if you’re unsure about how much water your plant needs, check its tag or consult an expert before deciding on a program for your garden’s needs.

The best time to water plants is in the morning before it gets too hot out there; this allows them time over night to dry off so they don’t get diseases from sitting in puddles all day long

Amend With Compost

Compost is a great soil amendment for your garden. It’s made from organic materials like leaves, grass clippings and food scraps. 

Compost improves the structure of sandy soils, making them better at holding water and nutrients. It also helps clay soils drain more easily, preventing compaction and improving drainage.

Composting is easy to do on your own and less expensive than buying bags at the store–just get yourself some plastic bins or piles of sticks (for air circulation) and fill them with yard waste such as grass clippings or leaves in fall or winter when they’re not needed for mulch or fertilizer (or compost them right away). 

Water occasionally as you add more materials so it doesn’t dry out until it’s ready to be used in springtime!

 Don’t have time to wait for plants to grow? You can add instant color to your garden with pansies, petunias, and other blooming annuals. Check out our guide on adding instant color to your garden for quick and easy ways to brighten up your garden.

Amend With Manure

Manure is a great source of nutrients, but it can also have the opposite effect if you don’t know how much to add. Adding too much manure will increase the acidity of your soil and make it harder for vegetables and fruit plants to grow, so be careful!

To use manure in your garden, add it in layers over time. This will help build up organic matter and nutrients slowly rather than dumping everything all at once. 

It’s best to wait until fall or spring when temperatures are cooler before adding manure because if you do this during the summer months it could burn your plants’ roots and leave them unable to absorb water properly due to limited root growth. 

You can also add other organic materials such as leaves or grass clippings after harvesting vegetables from your garden beds in order not only provide more nutrients but also improve drainage!

Amend With Peat Moss And Coconut Coir

Peat moss: A type of soil amendment made from decaying organic matter, peat moss is often used in gardening to increase the overall water holding capacity of your garden. 

This means that it will help hold moisture in the soil and keep roots healthy, which is important for plants that need consistent access to moisture.

Coconut coir: From coconut husks (the shell left behind after you’ve eaten all the meat), this fibrous material has been processed into a spongy material that can be used as an effective addition to any garden’s soil. 

When added, it helps ensure air circulation around plant roots while also improving drainage by adding more aeration between particles in your existing soil mix.

Amend With Sand Or Perlite For Drainage Issues

If you have a sandy soil and are experiencing drainage issues, you can add sand or perlite to your garden bed. 

Sand and perlite are great for increasing drainage because they have large spaces between the particles that allow water to pass through quickly. However, adding sand or perlite will not help with aeration or water retention in your garden beds.

Amend With Topsoil For A Quick Fix

If you don’t have the time or money to invest in a full garden soil mix, topsoil is an acceptable substitute. Topsoil is made up of brown materials, including composted leaves and other decomposing plant matter, that adds nutrients and water retention to your existing dirt. 

Topsoil can be purchased at most gardening stores or home improvement centers, but it can also be found free on Craigslist if you’re willing to put in some legwork. 

Just make sure that the topsoil you find actually looks like dirt; if it has large chunks of rock mixed in with the sand and clay (which is better for drainage), leave that alone!

Topsoils should always be mixed with existing soil before planting anything into them because they often contain very high levels of nutrients which may burn your plants’ roots if you don’t dilute them first.


We hope this guide has helped you learn how to amend your garden soil, whether it’s for new garden beds or an existing one. 

If you have questions about how to amend your own soil, feel free to reach out to us! We love helping people get started with their gardens, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have along the way.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about garden soil:

Prepare, Amend, & Fertilize Your Garden Soil: This article covers everything you need to know to get your garden soil in tip-top shape, from testing and amending to fertilizing and more.

All About Garden Soil: Learn about the different types of garden soil, how to test and improve soil health, and more.

Improve Your Garden Soil: Discover 18 tips for improving your garden soil, including using compost, mulching, and more.


What is garden soil?

Garden soil is the top layer of soil in your garden where plants grow. It contains organic matter, minerals, and nutrients that are essential for plant growth.

Why is garden soil important?

Healthy garden soil is important for producing healthy, thriving plants. Good soil provides plants with the nutrients they need to grow, holds moisture, and supports the root system.

How can I improve my garden soil?

There are many ways to improve garden soil, including adding compost, using cover crops, rotating crops, and testing soil for nutrient levels.

When should I fertilize my garden soil?

It is best to fertilize your garden soil in the spring before planting. You can also fertilize again during the growing season if needed.

Can I reuse garden soil?

You can reuse garden soil if it is healthy and has not been infected with disease or pests. Before reusing soil, it is important to amend it with compost and other organic materials to restore its health and fertility.