Garden Tip: Good Soil for Beautiful Gardens

Why is soil so important? Soil (dirt) is the foundation of your garden. It holds the nutrients and is the ‘house’ for the root systems. If you already have good soil that is rich in nutrients, dark in color and drains well, then you are well on your way to a beautiful garden! If you do not have good dirt, and if the planting site is in a good location (meaning it does not hold standing water), then you can make your garden foundation healthier with a couple of simple fixes.

You should be able to tell if your soil needs a little TLC by simply looking at the apearance of the dirt and the growth of your plants. Good soil looks dark, is fluffy but holds together and has moisture but is not wet. If your plants are looking weak, and if you are having a difficult time growing a beautiful garden, it’s worth starting at the bottom (the soil) and working your way up.


good soil vs bad soilThe difference between good soil and bad soil is visually distinct. Good soil (left) is rich and black. Clay soil (right) is dry, clumpy and light in color.


If your soil looks dry and is composed mostly of clay (see above right), or if it’s sandy and not holding together, you can add organic matter (compost) or black dirt to the soil. Organic matter, like compost and peat moss, improves the water/nutrient holding capacity of sandy soil, loosens clay soil and improves the health of your plants. Your plants need nutrients, and a good texture will help water and air travel through the soil to the root system. 

Three Steps to Healthy Soil

  1. Choose organic matter or black garden soil available at your local garden center, hardware store or nursery.

  2. Use a shovel, garden fork or rototiller to blend in your medium 4-6″ deep. Be careful not to damage existing plant roots.

  3. Plant your bulbs or plants and add 2″ of mulch to help retain moisture.


Starting with good soil will help you enjoy a beautiful gardening season!