The Q&A Archives: Poor Soil

Question: Hello, my builder sold all of the topsoil in my neighborhood. What can I do to improve the soil for both flowers, and a garden. I drink coffee, I seem to think that I can add the grounds to the soil to improve it? What else can I do?

Answer: What you report isn't all that unusual, but it sure makes it hard to have a decent landscape! The best thing to do is incorporate lots of organic matter to improve what's left of your soil. If you start out small, it won't seem so expensive, or so labor intensive. Begin by identifying the places where you want to grow flowers and veggies. Stake out the area and spread 4-5" of organic matter (compost, shredded leaves, aged-manure, etc.) over the top of the bed and dig it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. After you've planted, spread an additional 3-4" of organic matter over the bare soil. This will help suppress weeds and will release nutrients into the soil as it decomposes. At the end of the growing season dig this mulch material into the soil and put fresh organic matter over the top of the bed. After a few years of this practice you'll end up with wonderfully loamy garden soil.

Best wishes with your new gardens!

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