Protect the soil from compaction
When you dig to plant a deep pot or to do a drainage test, look
at what the soil tells you. Is there a densely packed layer on top
of looser stuff? All the roots will be trapped above that, and
water will pool at the meeting of the two layers, drowning roots.
Dig or drill to loosen or punch through that layer. Cushion the
soil surface with mulch during the growing season and spread out
your weight when you work in early spring on wet soil so you don't
create new "hard pan."
Below, left: Loose soil was added (A) but nothing was done
to break up B, the densely packed "hard pan" created when the
property was developed for building. C, the soil beneath the hard
pan, is dark and fertile but roots don't reach it because there is
no air in layer B -- roots need air! -- and a root-rotting perched
water table often sits at the meeting of A & B..
Below, right: If the subsoil (black arrow) is a much
different color than the top, be careful with
Our feet put as much pressure on soil per square inch as a
bulldozer, and cold wet soil can pack down. Note the board Janet's
using to spread her weight where the soil is not yet warmed.