DIGGING TO BREAK UP THE
Digging improves soil drainage and helps the roots
of plants to penetrate more deeply.
If possible, dig in autumn
so that winter frosts
can break the soil down further.
If your soil is very heavy, avoid
digging when it is wet, as treading on it will compress
it and affect drainage.
Digging to just one spade’s depth, or single
digging, is adequate for most purposes; it does
not disturb the subsoil, and can be done on ground
which has been previously cultivated to a greater
First dig a trench about 10in wide and take the
soil to the far end of the bed; this will be used
later to fill in the last trench you dig.
off any surface weeds as you go, and place them
upside down in the bottom of the trenches, but
remove the roots of any perennial weeds.
layer of manure or garden compost to the sloping
face of the soil you have just dug out.
the next trench, placing the soil, upside-down,
in the initial trench, and add the compost or
Continue digging and filling in trenches
in the same way until you have dug over the entire
DO YOU NEED A DOUBLE DIG?
Double digging is time and labour-consuming, and
only worth considering if you are starting a new
border for long-term planting from scratch, and
the soil id seep to begin with.
are much the same as for single digging, but the
trench cut is twice as deep and wide.
WHEN TO FORK.
If your ground is heavy or stony, dig with a trench
fork – with wide, flat prongs and a strong,
reinforced shaft – instead of a spade.
In spring, when the
soil starts to dry and clods break down easily,
use a border fork for soil which was dug in autumn,
removing any remaining perennial weeds.
See our section on Garden
Tools for purchasing spades and forks online