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I'm new to gardening, and I decided that I am going to create a new garden bed in my yard. The problem is, I began tilling without knowing of the damage that can be done by tilling very wet soil. Now I've got a muddy mess in my yard and I'm worried I've ruined the area. If I let the area dry for a few days then till again, would that help remedy the situation? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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    What kind of soil do you have? I really, really hope that it's not clay.
    – Jurp
    Apr 10, 2022 at 15:24

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Well, going at this without much information, I'm pretty sure that you've accidentally destroyed your soil's tilth, and there's no quick fix for that. More tilling won't help at all and can even make things worse.

You can try this test to see how bad things are (maybe the weather has already done this for you) - pick a spot and water it very well, perhaps an inch/2.5cm in an hour or so. If after that hour you have ponding on the soil, then the soil's structure has been destroyed. You could try adding compost, etc. and LIGHTLY tilling, but it won't change anything until it decays, and even then it won't do much because you'd have to add yards and yards of compost to have much improvement. Covering the soil with woodchips from an arborist also helps, but we're talking YEARS of chips to get tilth in maybe the top 1-2"/2-5cm.

One caveat on the test I mentioned above - do not do that test if you're uphill from a neighbor. There was someone in my neighbor who hired "landscapers" (i.e. "two guys with a skidsteer and no experience or education") to revamp their landscape. These guys ran their skidsteer all over the yard after 3 inches of rain, then tilled it and seeded a lawn. Two days later it rained heavily again, and the homeowners received a visit from the police because the rain (and grass seed) ran off their impervious landscape downhill into a neighbor's basement. Much angst and money-changing-hands ensued.

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