The Q&A Archives: Soil amendment

Question: We are prepping an area of our yard that was pretty much destroyed during home renovation. Right now the soil is pretty much just sand. We can get free compost from our city dump. Is this what we need to add to the sand to make good planting beds? If not, what? How much (of whatever) should we add and how deeply should we till?

Answer: Compost is a great soil amendment, especially for sandy soil. The general rule of thumb is to spread 4-5" of compost over the soil and dig it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. This is where most of the roots of annual and perennial plants will grow, and it's a good depth for shrubs, as well. After tilling the amendments into the soil, leveling the bed and planting, spread another 2-3 inches of organic matter over the bare soil around the plants to help suppress weeds and slow evaporation.

Good luck with your new beds!

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