She suggests three ways to prep soil from scratch: 

  • Till up your patch, sod and all, then remove the bits of grass and weeds by hand.
  • Remove and discard the sod then till the soil underneath.
  • Dig up the sod, flip it over and leave it on top of the soil for a few weeks for it to decompose, then discard what’s left.

You may get a mechanical tiller for about $200, a hand tiller for about $60, or an all-purpose garden spade for around $20.

If you already have a garden spot, Wood advises removing as many weeds as possible to “begin with a clean bed.”