Flower Gardening - Soil Preparation

Flower SoilAfter removing grass and weeds, loosen the soil and add organic matter to the flower bed. Soil preparation is the most important step to growing beautiful flowers.

Once you have killed, removed or smothered the existing vegetation (see Clearing A Flower Bed), you can begin to work the soil or loosen the soil and prepare the flower bed area for planting flowers. This can be done with a tiller or by hand using a spade and garden fork. If the soil is very compacted or has never been worked, you may want to rent a large, powerful tiller to do the initial passes. Thereafter, a lightweight tiller or a spade should be sufficient. After the first year, you should not need to till the soil again.

How Deep to Loosen Soil

For annual flowers, loosen the soil down at least six inches, for perennial flowers with their deeper root systems, ten inches is better. Break up big clods, remove larger rocks and any roots as you go.

Add Organic Matter to Flower Bed Soil

Now the most important step: Work in organic matter such as compost, well rotted stable manure and bedding, rotted down autumn leaves, or whatever organic material you have available locally and at a reasonable cost. A layer several inches thick is not too much to add at one time, and a six inch layer is better. Organic matter is the best amendment you can use to improve either a clay soil or a sandy soil. It is easier to add organic matter now, before you plant, than at any other time.

The organic matter will help keep the soil both aerated and moist all season as well as help feed the soil slowly as it breaks down over time. Plant roots grow best in well prepared soil, and the better the roots the better the overall growth and flowering performance. So don't skimp on this critical step (see More on Adding Organic Matter).

How to Prepare Clay Soil For Planting Flowers

If you have heavy clay soil, you might also add a small amount of coarse builder's type sand or fine grit. But add this only in addition to the organic matter. Without organic matter, sand plus clay yields brick when dried!

Source: http://flowergardens.suite101.com/article.cfm/soilpreparation