Many have been eagerly awaiting Spring so they could plant their vegetable garden. As soon as the soil can be worked, the garden can be tilled. Tilling the garden needs to be done correctly to benefit the health of the garden and resulting harvest.

TillerCredit: by Ras67

Things You Will Need


Lawn Mower


Safety Glasses

Garden Gloves


Composted Manure

Organic Materials

First determine if the soil is ready to be tilled. Test for warmth by sticking a finger into the ground, if your finger becomes uncomfortably cold, wait until it warms up. Test to see if soil is too damp. If it is sticky and clumps do not crumble when poked with your finger, it is too wet. Tilling before the soil is ready leads to compaction which causes drainage and aeration problems.

Rid the area of all rocks and debris that the rototiller will encounter. If the area  is a new garden site, stake off the area. Mow the grass as low as possible to make it easier. If it is an existing area where a winter cover crop was planted, mow the crop as low as possible. The intensity of your task will determine the appropriate rototiller for your needs. Stores such as Ace Hardware, Lowes and Home Depot will have one to suit your needs. You can also rent them.

Spread compost, composted manure, organic materials and fertilizer over the area. This will be mixed down into the soil, you should aim for a depth of 12 inches. Don't mix in fertilizer if planting more than two weeks later as the fertilizer will leech out.

Avoid compaction developing in the soil by completing one row at a time. Do not rush the machine, take the time to make sure everything is mixed into the soil at the desired depth. 

Work as if you were mowing the yard and do not go back over the row. Double tilling also leads to compaction later on.

Tips & Warnings

Wear gloves, appropriate footwear, clothing and safety glasses while using a rototiller to prevent injuries.