Simple Digging


Simple digging is a quick and relatively easy way to cultivate the soil and is ideal for working in a confined space such as a garden border filled with established plants.

The technique involves lifting out a spadeful of earth, dropping it back into its original position and then chopping it up with the blade. The chopped soil should be left for at least 3 weeks (or preferably over the winter) before it is used for planting; this will allow the soil to settle and will ensure that any recently disturbed annual weeds have chance to die off. The clods of earth will also be broken down into smaller pieces by the weather during this time, which will make it much easier for you to create a fine tilth for planting or sowing.


  1. Push the spade vertically into the soil. You will be digging the soil to 1 spade's depth - termed '1 spit deep'.
  2. Lever the soil out using the correct technique and posture.
  3. Twist the spade to turn the soil over and to drop it back in place. This will aerate the earth and encourage the breakdown of organic matter.
  4. Chop up large clods of soil with the blade and remove any perennial weed roots by hand.

Simple digging is good for most soils and is a useful technique for removing perennial weeds.