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Soil and Compost

  • How do I prepare healthy soil for gardening?

    Healthy soil is alive with beneficial microorganisms, fungi, and earthworms that promote nutrient exchange and guard against pathogens, increase moisture capacity and reduce plant stress. Ideal soil has a loamy texture, complex structure, good fertility, and adequate drainage. You can buy quality soil in bags or in bulk, or save money by preparing your own soil mixture.


  • How do I improve soil drainage and aeration?

    Soil drainage and aeration are key factors to plant growth and a successful garden. After setting up your raised beds, loosen the ground below 8-12 inches using a turning fork or shovel. If the ground is very hard or mostly clay, a drainage layer of loose round gravel is recommended. The drainage layer should be equal to about 10-20 percent of the total depth of the raised bed, e.g. 1-2 inches of gravel for an 11 inch tall bed. If setting up beds on non-absorbent surfaces such as concrete or severely compacted dirt, use slatted planter bottoms to provide excellent drainage for gardens on rooftops, driveways and parking lots.


  • Do I need to dig or prepare the ground below raised beds?

    No digging is required if your raised beds are tall enough to allow plant roots to grow, or if the soil beneath the beds is healthy, with adequate drainage. If the ground is compacted, it is recommended to loosen the soil with a turning fork or shovel, and add a drainage layer of loose gravel to the bottom of the planter. For raised beds on lawn, it is sometimes necessary to smother the grass before filling the beds with soil.

  • Where can I buy soil for raised beds?

    Soil mixes can be bought in bags at most garden centers and nurseries. Bagged soil is usually more expensive, however, than buying soil in bulk.  Bulk soil is sold by the cubic yard and available at some nurseries, farms and specialty shops selling landscape materials. It can usually be delivered to your home for a fee. Bulk soil is cheaper at higher volumes, so plan ahead and purchase all the soil you will need, along with any other materials, such as gravel for drainage, wood chips for pathways, and straw for mulch.

  • How much soil do I need to fill my planters?

    Consult the price tables on each product page to determine out how much soil you will need to fill your planters. Soil capacities are given in dry gallons, cubic feet, and cubic yards, where appropriate. Give us a call at (503) 802-9292 for more planter sizes or if you need help figuring soil volumes for custom raised beds.