The Q&A Archives: Raised beds

Question: In Loudoun County we have very hard clay and rocky soil, I notice alot of landscaping is done by bringing in dirt and making mounds and adding plants to these mounds. Is this the best way to garden in this area or should I work hard to dig down and try to amend the existing soil?

Answer: The easy solution is to garden on imported soil but you can improve your soil and eventually end up with rich garden loam. Spread 4-5 inches of compost or aged manure over your garden bed, dig it in to a depth of 8-10 inches, level the soil and plant your plants. Then add another 2-3 inches of organic matter over the top of the bed to help suppress weeds. At the end of the gardening season dig the organic matter into the soil and add fresh mulch material. Repeat for a few years and you'll end up with the best soil in the neighborhood.

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