We Cause Soil Compaction
Soil, whether it is clay, loam, or sandy, can become compacted whenever it is repeatedly walked on or driven over by any vehicle from a riding mower to a car or truck. When we walk behind our lawn mower or sit on our riding mower 20 to 25 times a year, we are compacting the soil under the turfgrass. If we regularly walk or stand in our garden beds (especially if the soil is wet) we are compacting the soil under the flowers and shrubs.
A roto-tiller can be a very helpful tool in establishing a new lawn or garden bed. It is not a tool that should be used routinely year after year to prepare a vegetable garden. Soil that is finely broken up by a tiller is much more likely to become compacted, just from the pressure of rain.
Add Organic Matter When Tilling or Digging
Soil that is tilled while working in organic matter such as peat moss and tilled soil that is covered with mulch will not become compacted so quickly if at all. When planting plants in compacted soil, it is important to make the hole two or three times wider than the root ball so that the roots have some room to expand. You need to also mulch that plant so that the earthworms and beneficial soil microbes can break down the compaction around the hole that you dug.
Mulch Avoids or Fixes Compaction
Even without digging, a soil that is compacted and is mulched with 3 to 4 inches of organic material will in a few years have a growing population of earthworms and soil microbes that are perfectly capable of breaking up that compaction.
Aerating Or Spiking Compacted Soil
Double Digging Compacted Garden Beds