When your garden is very compacted from water, or worse, from water and neighborhood children (and sometimes clueless neighbors) walking through it, here’s what to do.
First put up a visual barrier so that the people know that it is not a good place to walk. A line of blocks, or even old tires works great. Then, improve the barrier so that they actually cannot walk there. A fence is good for this, but simply stacking the blocks or old tires taller will do as well.
Then you need to repair the ground. With your favorite pickaxe or shovel, dig deeply – a foot or more would not be too deep – when the ground is somewhat dry. When this has been accomplished, take your favorite organic matter (whether that is wood chips, cow poop, straw, grass clippings or whatever is handy) and integrate it with the soil. This will both improve the soil long-term and provide aeration in the short term. Now your plant roots will not be so hard-pressed (so to speak) to find food.
Now, raise the bed. Line the bed with a barrier at least 4 inches tall – the blocks aforementioned would work great. Add soil to the bed to raise it and help with drainage. The plants will send out new roots into the higher soil so they can breathe and keep their deeper roots where there is lots of food.
This technique was developed a long time ago by the ancient Italian and Iberian Romans, and perfected by the Iberian Roman L J Columella for application to grapes, but it works great for other crops too!