Till the End of Time: Five Smart Tips for Tilling Your Yard

If your garden or soil is packed down and devoid of life, it might be time to give it a good till. Many people feel it is crucial to till their gardens in order to keep things fresh from season to season. When tilling, a gardener digs deep into the soil to mix new, enriched soil with old, depleted soil. Tilling aerates the soil, makes it easier to manipulate later, and offers a great way to apply fertilizers deep into the ground. Take a look at the following tilling tips to get the job done and avoid any common mistakes:

tips for tilling yard

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons via MantisYard


Till at the Right Time

The garden can be tilled in fall or spring, depending on the gardener’s preference, but the ground must be dry and warm to ensure good tilling. Otherwise, tilling may increase the likelihood of soil compaction and drainage or aeration problems. To make sure the ground is suitable, the gardener can collect a ball of soil in their hand and poke it. If it falls apart, it is dry enough. If the gardener sticks their hand or finger a few inches into dirt, and it feels uncomfortably cold, it is too cold to till.

Work in Rows

It is only necessary to till an area once. To prevent over-tilling, mark the area that needs tilling, begin in one corner, and work in rows. You can mark your rows with string, or wooden stakes, just make sure you have clearly designated areas so you don’t forget which areas have already been tilled. This will help you avoid over-tilling.


Some gardeners like to use a method called “double-digging”. It means that a gardener digs halfway down, sets that dirt aside, and churns the next level. When the spot next to that must be dug, the gardener digs halfway down and puts that dirt on top of the spot they just churned. At the end, the very first shovelful of dirt goes on top.

How Deep?

Some plants would benefit from being planted in a garden tilled at different heights, but the average tilling depth is 6 to 8 inches. Tilling to this depth will put the new, rich soil in a suitable position for most plants.

Preventing Erosion on Uneven Ground

Because the soil becomes loosened during tilling, some people worry about erosion. A garden on uneven ground is most prone to erosion. To make this least likely, the gardener can leave a space untilled perpendicular to the tilled rows. This will leave hard dirt in place to slow down any movement, preventing erosion and leaving an extra space for the gardener to walk on.

By tilling at the right time, working in rows, and digging deep enough, you’ll have a successful till for the season. Be sure to try double digging, and don’t forget to plan against possible erosion. The professionals at Western Turn Farms Ltd. who specialize in turf in Vancouver, suggest you always use organic soil that is environmentally sustainable and free of toxins. No matter your gardening style or preference, it can be good to give the area a good till every now and again in order to breathe new life back into the area.

Erin Emanuel