How to Till a Garden without a Tiller

The millennium-old practice of tilling land comes with many benefits yet is exceedingly tiring, and time-consuming. What of discovering a hack that saves you dozens of efforts?

  • Whether you are a staunch believer of tilling or otherwise, you can retire your tiller – like rear tine tillers. We want to unearth some ways in which you can prepare your garden without a tiller.

You can avoid tiling by removing the weeds and covering your land with god’s blanket (mulching). (1) Layout your garden well (2) kill the existing weeds/grass (3) much/ lay organic matter (4) plant.

Details: How to Till a Garden without a Tiller 

1. Layout your garden

The first step is to determine where to host your garden. Layout your garden’s size and shape well, clearly determining the walking areas and planting sections.

  • This makes necessary the use of stakes, strings, and measuring tapes to determine the exact layout of your garden.
  • For you to correctly determine the layout of your garden, first you have to determine the goals of your garden.

What are you willing to plant there and how much of it? We recommend the use of a gardener planner to successfully handle such concerns.

Using the Garden Planner

The garden planner solves a number of your headaches like helping you determine what to plant where and when.

  • It has a lot of ready-designed objects like compost bins, sheds, fences that are dropped right to your garden.

Objects include sheds, fences, and compost bins, which can be adjusted to fit your space. Click on the plant you want to add, and then on the place where you want to plant it.

Hold and drag your mouse to draw a block or row. As you add plants, the space required is clearly shown by a colored space around the plant.

The tooltip feature displays the number of plants that can fit in that area. Related: Front Tine vs. Rear Tine Tillers

2. Kill the existing weeds/grass

Secondly, you need to kill weeds or grass to ensure it doesn’t shoot up anymore.

  • Although some chemicals have been used in the past to kill weeds, we recommend using methods that don’t harm your soil.

Well, you have two sure options namely tarp and newspapers.

New papers

Grab your pieces of newspapers and a bucket of water. Dip the newspaper into the water and use them to cover the weeds, at least 2 newspapers thick.

  • The purpose of a wet newspaper is to make it stick on top of weeds.

Just like a carpet, covering weeds with a layer of newspapers prevents sunlight and oxygen from reaching the soil to smother weeds that are already sprouting.

It also prevents growing weeds from penetrating in search of sunlight.


The other option is to spread a tarp over the area you have designated for your garden. This will be smoother and kill every existing weed.

The tarp has to remain there for a couple of weeks depending on the season of the year and before planting. The concept is similar to that of using newspapers- to thwart any development of weeds.

3. Lay the organic matter/mulching

Next, start laying down your organic content. Be sure to use easily biodegradable materials such as rotten leaves, straw, aged manure, compost, or weeds you removed from your garden.

Preferably, a combination of a few of these materials can work way better, but be careful not to use mulches that contain weeds such as Bermuda grass.

Our research led us to discover that using organic nitrogen sources namely, MILORGANITE helps facilitate the breakdown of the materials as well as add more nutrients to the soil.

  • You can comfortably stop there with organic content, or else you can go an extra layer with shredded wood chips.

It helps with additional bulk. When your organic material is in place, strive to keep it moist to help the materials break down and integrate into the soil.

The beauty of retiring your tiller is that the weeds are buried deeper with every additional layer of much every year.

Eventually, you will get an incredibly spongy layer of nutrient-rich soil that is beneficial for the growth of healthy plants.

Cover your soil now with some grass. Mulching not only helps in killing your weeds but also controls soil erosion while improving soil moisture retention and water infiltration capacity.

You could plant cover crops as an alternative to mulching to create a living mulch.

The right timing for organic matter

We recommend that you start this process at the start of the fall. This is because your organic content will have sufficient time to decompose and form an amazing layer.

  • However, in case you are still late, don’t dismiss the whole idea of a no-tiller garden.

No, you still can proceed with your process as you still can have a great harvest. Only that your soil may take a little longer to reach its full yield potential.

4. Plant

After laying the organic content and it has decomposed thoroughly, just pull away from the material where you want to plant or sow your seeds/seedlings.

Check that no foot and cart traffic to your no-tiller garden to preserve the sponginess that has been created over time.

What’s the right time to plant?

We recommend that you plant at the onset of spring because by then it will be a lot easier.

  • Your soil is not hard to dig as you simply run the edge of your hoe over it while planting according to the gardening tool.

No bending for long hours and no digging for each plant. Then use your gardening tool to put back the dirt/ nutrient-rich soil around each plant. Adequately cover your plants to the roots.

Enjoy the Fun of Tilling Your Garden without a Tiller

No-tiller gardening is quite a reprieve from the back and leg pains associated with tilling. And you end up with healthy crops or your favorite vegetables.

Although the benefits of not tiling take a while to be fully realized, anything worth having is certainly worth waiting for. Enjoy your gardening!

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