The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

United Kingdom Gb

What are the advantages and disadvantages of prepping land by hand and machine ?



I prefer to do it manually!

There are lots of reasons for this.

I get the feel for the soil, I can weed as I progress, the manure goes where I want it and it is good exercise!

Mechanically I find it harder work!

I work numerous 30' x 5' 'beds and my soil is quite light!

I can push my spade into it a full spade depth without the need to use my foot to help it to penetrate.

(Although I do use my foot to make the process even easier!)

I find a rotovator tends to dig in and I always seem to be pulling it out, which can be heavier work than digging, and at my age I don't need this hastle!

Then there is the turning and maneuvering to turn it round at the end of the bed!

Then if I am only preparing a part of a bed these maneuvres are increased!

Then if there are any weeds that spread from root cuttings e.g. Couch,Dandelions and Creeping Buttercup to name but a few

I find that the pieces formed increase the problem tenfold after the 'single root' which manually; I would have pulled out relatively easily, is chopped up to form numerous 'root cuttings'

This is how I do it! In fact as I mentioned in another thread, I have already finished my winter digging as far as I can go!

I have done it this way for more years than I can remember!

In fact I was a part owner of the rotovator on our allotments years ago, but we have now got rid of it as most of the other plot holders found similar problems as I had.

So that is my opinion for what it is worth!

25 Oct, 2012


Exam time again? prepping for what? Derek.

25 Oct, 2012


Yup agree Derek exam time again!

25 Oct, 2012


By hand is slow but methodic; machine is quick but less efficient.

25 Oct, 2012


1. Machines create a 'pan' at the depth of the tines especially in heavy soil. This will prevent roots going deeper.
2. Machines break weeds and roots into small pieces so spreads perennial types like docks, dandelions and especially bad, horsetail.
3. Machines pollute the air, cost a lot to run and maintain, and often are as hard to use as wielding a good spade or fork.

1. Forking penetrates hard soil more easily.
2. Stainless steel spades enable you to turn over the soil to a greater depth.
3. As you dig or fork, you can easily pick out difficult weeds like the roots of couch grass or dandelions. This gets rid of them saving hours of weeding time later.
4. Using a rake you can develop a fine tilth ready for sowing. With a machine you still have to rake.

Alternatively, adopt the deep mulch or no dig system in which the worms do the digging and you concentrate on planting. It is nature's way and IF you can get the huge quantities of mulch needed, it is ultimately the least labour demanding form of gardening.

26 Oct, 2012

How do I say thanks?

Answer question


Not found an answer?