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Get the soil ready for planting


Learn how to use tools to prepare the soil, so it is ready for sowing seeds and planting.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Learn to choose the correct tools required for the task
  • Learn that for plants to grow well the soil needs to be carefully prepared

Essential background information


Gather gloves and tools you will need and make sure children are familiar with tool safety.


  • Gloves
  • Hand forks or large forks
  • Hand trowels
  • Hand rakes or large rakes
  • Kneelers
  • Buckets for weeds
  • Organic matter (home-made compost or bought in bagged soil conditioner)

Step by step

  1. Using forks, push the tines deep into the soil and carefully loosen, lift and turn the soil, breaking up any large lump with the tines.
  2. Remove any old plant material and weeds, making sure you dig out all the roots and shoots. Carefully shake off the soil from old plants and weeds over the beds.
  3. Collect old plants and weeds in buckets and compost what you can.
  4. Fill up buckets with organic matter using a hand trowel.
  5. Add in a bucket of organic matter to every square metre of soil and mix the organic matter into the soil surface using a fork.
  6. Now collect a rake. Rake the soil level, by moving the rake gently over the soil surface forwards and backwards in long strokes, gently tapping any lumps with the teeth of the rake.
  7. Return all tools to the tool stop or shed and clean off soil with a brush.

Hints & tips

  • Always to work from the edge of the beds so you don’t stand on the soil.
  • If you have to stand on the soil, use a plank of wood. Standing on this, work in a line, forking in front of you and then moving the plank backwards.
  • This activity forms part of the following growing topics: Earth Matters, Spring Seed SowingFocus on Fruit and Grow your own Lunch.

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