How to till soil by hand

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How to till soil by hand

How do you even begin to think about tilling a small garden without the use of a tiller? While the task can seem quite daunting, with just a few tools, and some basic preparation, you will have that small garden tilled in no time.

Tilling is just going to make it easier to get those seeds planted and give them the best possible chance to grow some roots and really get established nicely. 

Now there is always the alternative to tilling which is called a no-dig garden or no-till garden.

No-dig gardens can work just fine, but they can also come with their fair share of challenges. The thought behind them is that you are leaving your topsoil in its natural state and you can build a healthier topsoil with organic fertilizers and or compost. Plus the obvious fact of not having to do the actual work of tilling or digging. That in itself is interesting. 

But most of the time it’s really not an option to start a garden in a no-till fashion. Your plants and vegetables are just going to be bigger and happier in a garden that has been properly tilled. 

Besides, it is almost impossible for a plants roots to really get deep into the soil and establish itself. Basically, if you aren’t tilling your garden, you are not going to get the best results that you would had you just tilled your garden to begin with.

Here are a few ways you can till your small garden by hand.


Use a quality garden hoe

manual hoe doesn’t really cost much and you’ll be able to till the top layer of your soil relatively easily. Manual hoes are a great tool for loosening the soil for planting, and you can use them for planting seeds, covering seeds, and weeding. Use a push-pull hoe if you’re only wanting to get rid of weeds and till only a small amount of the top of your soil. It’s already hard enough to till your soil by hand, so do all you can to make it easier on your body. The added handle on this garden hoe really makes a big difference to reduce the strain on your body so you can work longer with less fatigue. And the 54″ shaft gives you added reach. That’s the smarter way to do yard work.


A shovel

If you have a clay or rocky soil, you may want to look into specialized methods for that as this isn’t something that you will want to try with a shovel. If you have a sandy or relatively loose soil then a shovel will work just fine. Mark your area and dig away. Start small and take your time. Flip the soil and break it up thoroughly. 

Raised Beds

If you really don’t want to till, or maybe you just can’t, build on top of it! If your soil is so poor that you cannot grow straight into it, grow on top of it in a raised garden bed. You can get a basic cloth garden bed like this one that is both economical as well as extremely easy to set up. You can get a wood raised bed in almost any color or species of wood that you could want. Or you can go with a metal raised bed to get more of a country feel to it. 



This cloth bed is both inexpensive and very easy for anyone to set up.

This wooden raised bed not only looks great, but gives you plenty of space for all of your favorite vegetables.

This metal raised bed gives you that nice country feel as well as something that is well made.


A Pitchfork

A pitchfork is going to work really well if your soil is relatively loose already. It’s going to be able to break up the soil fairly easily with less work than other hand tools. You will be surprised just how easy it is to till your soil with this method. 

A Garden Weasel


The garden weasel line of products really will help you get your soil tilled effectively. They have several products that will all make less work out of that garden preparation that we all dread doing. They are ergonomic and well made so you won’t have to worry about them breaking after a few seasons.



When thinking about tilling our garden, we rarely think about doing it by hand, but with some of these techniques and tools, you can easily till your small garden in no time at all. You won’t need a big expensive piece of machinery to get it done and you probably already have the tools you need in your shed right now. Thank you for reading How to till soil by hand. Here are some other articles you may enjoy.

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