Besides seeing your plants grow (or harvesting your vegetables, if you have a vegetable garden), one of the most enjoyable aspects of gardening is putting them in the soft soil. But the manual labor of preparing that soil—breaking up clods, raking, and aerating it—not so much. You have to get the soil ready before you plant. Gizmodo explains how to work the soil:
If last year’s bumper crop has depleted your soil’s nutrient content, you’ll need to amend it before planting again. The process of amending soil involves adding materials in order to augment or modify the soil’s physical characteristics. Sandy soils, for example, need amendments that increase its water and nutrient holding capacity, while clay soils need amendments that improve its aeration and porosity. Pick up a soil test kit from your local home improvement center to determine the plot’s pH balance. This, in addition to the type of soil you have, determines the type of amenity you’ll need. Make sure you bring a small bag of soil with you when you go to buy the kit and save yourself the return trip to buy the necessary amendments. Once you do have all the amendments you need, it’s just a matter of digging up the top 6 to 12 inches of existing soil, thoroughly mixing the materials in, and then raking them level.
Mix coffee grounds into your soil while you’re at it to deter slugs and other pests, as well as put a smile on acid-loving plants. If you’re preparing a particularly weedy area for planting, try using a piece of cardboard to get rid of the weeds en masse or these DIY weed killers to keep weeds from sprouting.