6 Methods to Prepare Your Garden/Homestead for Planting


Before you plant you need to prepare the land for planting. The classic method is to till the land but that comes with some disadvantages (degrades soil) if done annually. But what are the alternatives? Here are 6 methods (including one time tilling) to prepare your land for planting.

These methods are aimed at a small homestead or garden level. I'm not a farmer and if you are preparing acres of crop land then the methods here may not be ideal for you.

I'm going to list the 6 methods and provide a short summary but if you want more information then please check out my blog post--6 Methods for Preparing Land for Planting--this post covers more information for each method.

The 6 Methods

Here are 6 methods for preparing your land for planting.

  1. One-Time Tilling
  2. Mulch Alone
  3. Sheet Mulching
  4. Double Digging
  5. Solarizing
  6. Animals (focus on chickens and pigs)

I have used all these methods except for the last one on my homestead or for my day job as a restoration manager. But one big reason I want animals is to have them help me prep land for planting.

One-Time Tilling

This method is really exactly what the name says. You till the soil once but then switch to no-till after that. This way you get some of the initial benefits of tilling without the long term damage to your soil.

If you are getting a brand new area ready for planting this can be a good option.

Mulch Alone

I love mulch! To learn more check out this week's blog post all about mulching!

I tend to not use this method much since it takes so much mulch. I prefer to use cardboard first and then put wood chips or leaves on top of it. But using only mulch can be a good option.

But it will take at least 6 to 8 inches of mulch and you may need more to fully smoother existing vegetation like grass.

I did use this method in an area that was already clear and did not have much in the way of weeds. I only needed a few inches of mulch in that case and cardboard would have been overkill.

Sheet Mulching


Sheet mulching is one of my favorite ways to prepare land for planting. It is effective and I can get the materials for free--but it does take time.

To use this method you put cardboard, paper, burlap bags, etc. down on the ground first and then cover that layer with wood chips, fall leaves, straw/hay, etc.

It can work great but you do need a lot of cardboard/paper/burlap bags plus the top mulch layer.

Double Digging


I used this method a few times but it takes a ton of work--especially if you have rocky soil or like me clay soils.

With this method you dig out the top layer of soil and any existing vegetation first. Then you dig out a second layer of soil and put it off to the side. The top layer of soil is then put into the trench/hole and the lower soil is added on top.

The result can be deep soft soil ready for planting. I find it to be more trouble than it is worth but some people really like this method.



The biggest downside to this method is all the plastic--you need to use UV resistant plastic (greenhouse plastic is ideal). But it is very effective if the area you want to prepare for planting is sunny.

Just put the plastic sheet down over the ground and make sure the edges are all buried part way down so you get a good seal all the way around.

Now wait a few months. The result will be cooked plants and seeds. The area is ready for planting at this point. I would still mulch.


Using pigs, chickens or other animals to prepare land for planting can be a great option. They can clear vegetation, till the soil, and fertilize it all at once.

I don't have animals so I have not tried it out but there are a number of homesteaders on YouTube using some version of this technique.

Have any of you tried to use this method? How did it work out for you on your homestead?

How Do You Prepare Land for Planting?

I may not like double digging but this hedgerow is the result of the above double digging so it does work... just takes a ton of work!

So how do you prepare land for planting? Please leave a reply saying how you prepare land for planting. And if you like this post please upvote and resteem.

Don't forget to check out the blog post on my site which covers each method in a lot more detail.

Thank you!


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I am moving soon and the garden is concrete. This will be dug up but what the best way to rejuvenate this soil?💯🐒

The soil under the concrete will all be compacted. So the first thing I would do is try to get that improved. Tilling is one option but you can also try using a broadfork. I would then add some compost if you have it and then a layer of wood chips or leaves on top of that. This will build soil life which will help keep the soil from being compacted again. I would then plant potatoes, carrots, and other root type crops that will help loosen up the soil. Nitrogen fixing vegetables like beans and peas would also be a great first group of plants to plant.

Nice one! It's not a large area so should be easy. Will have to find a broadfork somewhere thanks for that tip. Yer I'll be adding compost on top possibly building some beds up too a lot to decide on yet. Thank again for the tips 💯🐒

Thanks, a great community here💯🐒