How do I go about improving soil in my garden?

Currently it is a large flower bed with 2 inch mulch of cedar chips. How and with what should I amend the soil? Do I need to remove the bark chips first or can I just mix everything into my soil? How deep should I dig it in? Will all this digging around the roots hurt my plants? Have good intentions but don't want to mess this up!
Thanks so much for any and all advise!
q how do i go about improving soil in my garden
Payson Arizona. Topsoil has been amended years ago and I think it drains too fast. The subsoil, about 20 inches down is clay.
  13 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on May 09, 2017
    You will need to move the mulch before attempting to amend the soil.I would put top soil,lime,and gypsum down. Remember soil amending takes time.

  • DORLIS DORLIS on May 09, 2017
    I would check with the country extension agent and take a soil sample to him/her. they can tell you exactly what you need.

  • Ellis Ellis on May 09, 2017
    I agree with Dorlis. Have your soil tested first--you have a sizable garden, so you don't want to add the wrong thing! If you don't have access to the county extension agent, a lot of better garden centers will do soil testing.

    What a gorgeous view you have!

    • See 3 previous
    • Diane Diane on May 12, 2017
      Thanks for input. Good ideas. Have started implementing them. The views are spectacular, thank you.

  • Cheryl Davis Cheryl Davis on May 09, 2017
    We "steal" our neighbors grass clippings and leaves. Work them into your soil throughout the year and can use them for mulch around plants to keep the soil moist. Find someone who has cows to get manure - let dry - work some of that into the soil, also. Sprinkle a bag of Gypsum to help break up hard soil.

  • Pam Walker Pam Walker on May 10, 2017
    Remove existing plants carefully leaving root clusters & soil together. Don't shake them off. Set them aside. Rake the mulch off of the entire bed. Create a border using a chalk outline. Till the soil. Using a tiller will provide you with the right depth you need. Rock the tiller back & forth until the blades are totally immersed in the soil will be the right depth. After tilling, spread about an inch of Peat Moss on top. Get some Triple 8 Fertilizer (we got ours at Walmart) & put a very light dusting on top like you would throwing chicken feed out to about 20-30 chickens. Till the area again to mix thoroughly. Border it with bricks, stones, concrete border blocks, etc. Plant your plants allowing space in between for growth. Add back in your mulch if desired. Water it generously but don't saturate it. The mulch & peat moss will absorb water so you won't havta worry about watering too often. The peat moss will also aerate the soil so your roots can spread more easily. That's it lol. You're finished. GOOD LUCK & GOD BLESS!! Hope this helps. :)

  • Shanna Patnode Shanna Patnode on May 11, 2017
    Used coffee grounds

  • Just peachy Just peachy on May 12, 2017

  • Diane Diane on May 12, 2017
    All great tips! Thanks so much!

  • Diane Diane on May 12, 2017
    Hi, there is also an additive called Mushroom soil. It comes from mushroom farms. Most nurseries have it. Work it into your garden dirt. You may need to do this more then once. Adding it in the spring while preparing to plant.

    • See 2 previous
    • Diane Diane on May 16, 2017
      Not sure if you received my earlier reply. It should not harm plants or roots. We have used it for years. Our garden has improved tremendously. Good luck 🌱🌻🌱

  • Cheryl Davis Cheryl Davis on May 12, 2017

  • Diane Diane on May 13, 2017
    No, we have added it to our garden the last few years. We had clay soil and this has improved it greatly. Good luck

  • Diane Diane on May 13, 2017
    Definately going to try it. Thx!