Digging over soil

I know this is a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

Whenever you watch Gardener's World, or similar and they talk about digging over the soil, adding compost etc. they always seem to do it with an empty bed where they've taken all the plants out and are ready to replant the whole thing from scratch

But, I won't be removing my old plants as I'm trying to establish the plants so is it just a case of digging around as best you can without causing damage to any roots? If so, what about bulbs that are in there? I can't remember where they all are.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 7,928

    You can just lay a layer of compost on the top (known as mulching) and the worms will take it down into the soil for you.  This is the essence of 'no dig' gardening.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks, Bob. My soil tends to be quite clumpy. Big lumps the size of apples. I try to turn it over with the fork to break it up a bit but I don't really want to go too deep because I'm worried about causing damage.

  • B3B3 Posts: 10,019

    You can just break up the surface a bit to give the worms a head start before adding your mulch or compost.

    Last edited: 11 September 2016 23:24:31

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • One reason I pick up the long handled Hoe is apart from leaning on it I hoe round the plants to get rid of those weeds that appear overnight and lightly disturb the top soil, the borders rarely get dug though are mulched and it works for me. If I do clear an area then yes it gets well dug with added compost and or manure well rotted of course. Vegetable patches can usually be cleared then prepared for the next sowing Borders just need a weed and a feed so hoeing and mulching does the job. Many of my shrubs and plants are over thirty years old the root ball must be over in Australia by now as they are never disturbed. The resident Blackbird gets all excited when it sees the hoe and is often hopping around dodging the blade as he she nips in for the bugs etc.


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