Answer: Most soil is improved by the addition of copious amounts of organic matter (a six inch layer is not too much) such as compost, old rotted leaves, or aged stable manure and bedding. This helps improve the soil structure and feeds the soil. A perennial bed might have the soil worked to at least twelve inches, annuals would do well with soil loosened down about twelve inches and organic matter worked into the top six inches. Plants differ in their needs for fertility, moisture, and pH so it is wise to select plants that match the soil you have rather than try to amend the soil drastically to suit incompatible plants. This is particularly true for long lived plants such as trees and shrubs. You might wish to run some basic soil tests and find out what type of soil you have and what your soil is (or is not) lacking and then improve and amend it based on the results. Your county extension (431-7260) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results.
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