Till a Garden Without a Tiller

1. Shovel or Spade

Using your shovel or spade, dig up the soil (at least 6 inches down) and use the head of the tool to break up compacted clumps.

2. Garden Hoe

Adopt a chop and pull method—swing down from hip height, then pull the soil toward you—moving backward or forward as you till.

4. Broadfork

The gardener steps on the flat metal bar to force the tines into the soil and gently rocks back to loosen the soil.

5. Your Hands

While hands can till the soil in a pinch, this method is not ideal nor recommended for larger spaces. Stick to smaller planters if you use your hands.

7. Cover Crops

A cover crop helps keep the soil usable. It renders tilling unnecessary, since these plants can lessen soil compaction and cut down on erosion.

8. Double-Digging

Dig a trench and remove the soil into a wheelbarrow. Aerate the the bottom of the trench and add compost. Dig a second trench, placing the soil from this trench on top of the compost from the first one.

10. No-Dig Method

This method leaves the soil alone to maintain itself naturally; you only add a top layer of compost as needed. With this technique, you only dig into the soil when planting or weeding.

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