Illustration for article titled Can Rotting Wood Really Help Plants Grow?Photo: NayaDadara (Shutterstock)

The combination of Earth Day and the spring pandemic outbreak could leave you looking for ways to get outside, connect with nature, and plant new life. If you’re like me (a person who has no evidence of a green thumb) you need all the help you can get keeping these plants alive. Fortunately, there are some simple hacks you can use to set up your garden for success right from the start.

TikToker The crispy city dwellerOn the one hand, according to the “hill culture method”, one swears to prepare his garden beds before planting. Here’s how to make a hill bed and how to put up a leg in the horticultural department.

What are Hugel beds?

Hill beds follow the hill culture planting method. You begin by building a mound from a pile of old wood buried underground to mimic the natural growth environment for the plants in the wild. The Permaculture Research Center explains the process in detail the natural process that the method tries to recreate:

“Wood waste (and other debris) that falls on the forest floor can easily become spongy, absorbing rain and slowly releasing it into the surrounding soil, making that moisture available to nearby plants.”

Mimicking this type of environment in your garden should, in theory, help plants thrive and save you from the hard work that comes with it.

Raised beds require less work

If you’re creating sunken garden beds, there are several steps to follow when the land is tilled to make it more hospitable to new plants. Planting prep includes killing current vegetation, turning the soil by digging at least a foot, and much more. With a raised boxYou can just use fresh soil and skip digging and tilling altogether.

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Reuse your old wood

Hunt down old wood before you put it in the dirt. You can either look for sticks, logs, and dead leaves (and other items you might toss in a compost heap) or reuse old wood that you have lying around.

The best wood for this job will rot a bit. Newer wood can interfere with this Nitrogen content in the soil, Manipulating the natural balance needed for plant growth. The rotting wood, on the other hand, supplies the soil with nutrients and contributes to its conservation proper drainageThis will give you the perfect amount of moisture to cultivate plant growth. For a visual representation of the process, see The crispy city dwellerThe video shows you how he uses hill gardening in his own raised beds.