Cover the black plastic sheeting with a 4-inch layer of organic mulch. Push the mulch to the edges of the black plastic so they aren’t visible. Smooth the mulch into an even layer. The mulch helps hold the sheeting in place and adds an extra layer of weed prevention.
Cover the entire area with black plastic sheeting. Cut strips that fit in the area. Overlap strips one or two inches to prevent weeds from poking through the gaps, advises Sunset.com. Use small rocks to hold the sheeting in place until you have covered the area completely.
Cut holes in the black plastic sheeting to fit over existing plants that you want to leave in your landscape.
Surround Existing Plants
Weeds are the nemesis of gardeners everywhere. They decrease the visual appeal of your yard and steal valuable moisture and nutrients from your other plants and flowers. If you are looking for the best ground cover to prevent weeds, consider black ground cover sheeting as an option that will help prevent those pesky weeds from making an appearance in your garden.
Moisten the soil where you want to put the ground cover sheeting. Use a garden hose to dampen the soil, but don’t use so much water that the dirt gets muddy and soggy.
Install Plastic Sheeting
While the black plastic sheeting and mulch will control the majority of weeds, you may still see weeds appear where the plastic overlaps and around the existing plants in your garden. Pull these weeds immediately, advises Oregon State University. Young weeds are easier to remove than those that are more established.
The sheeting starves weeds of sunlight, which helps prevent their growth. When used correctly, ground cover sheeting is an effective way to prevent weeds and maintain the beauty of your outdoor space.
As mentioned in the helpful tips post. Go scrounging. See where new houses are being built or where somebody is having bulk bags of soil/sand/gravel or whatever delivered. Ask if you can
A weed membrane won’t stop Horse Tail unfortunately.
Dave Humby Posts: 1,088
Last edited: 07 August 2017 15:37:47
Dave Humby Posts: 1,088
polb Posts: 198
Dave Humby Posts: 1,088
Ok, I’ll give that ago, thank you!
Horse / mares tail is a nightmare and grows through pretty much everything unfortunately. Even concrete. I managed to keep it at bay at my last place but it was a permanent struggle. There’s lots of posts and advice here on the forum if you search it out. It’s very deep rooted and any root broken off whilst trying to dig it out will regenerate. After ‘bruising’ the plant I used to apply Roundup Root and Stump killer with a few drops of fairy liquid added which would help the Roundup stay in contact with the weed longer.
In case you were wondering, the plastic only dries the soil out when used in very large sheets. In smaller areas, like the one I’ve just dug over, the soil is moist and worms and other soil creatures seem unaffected. There’s also, information floating around on the internet about how plastic sheet mulch can negatively affect soil organisms and the garden. If any reduction of soil life does occur, it is only temporary, as I and many others have seen in a real-world scenario. The study that folks refer to is one conducted by Washington State University; a study that may be flawed due to the testing method.
After removing any last weeds, the ground under the plastic could be ready for immediate planting. That is, if you’ve applied a layer of organic compost to the ground before you put the plastic down. If you haven’t, you can apply it to the bare soil now. The best way is as a 4-6″ layer of mulch, to create a no-dig garden. That mulch will also cover any seeds that are lying at the soil’s surface and will stop them from germinating.
This is exactly how I created my own vegetable garden and it saved me an incredible amount of time and energy. It’s the main way that I recommend clearing land without using herbicides since it’s suitable for organic gardening and also, pretty easy. The before and after photos below show how I covered the entire area and then gradually peeled the plastic back. Bit by bit I transformed a weedy plot of land into a beautiful and productive veggie patch. You can see more of my garden, and learn about two other types of sheet mulch in the video at the bottom of this piece.
You might also spot dead plants at the soil surface. Desiccated or slimy grass and weeds. Apply the mulch directly on top of them since they won’t grow. Worms and other soil bacteria in the compost will break them down into nutrients in no time at all. If the plants look fleshy still, then they could still be alive. That was the case with dock weed in my garden and I manually dug them, and their long taproots, up. Any tough weeds like that I put into a container and either dispose of them or leave them to eventually break down.
Cons of using black plastic to kill weeds?
Once the excitement of starting a new garden wears off, the questions begin. One of the most common is ‘How do I convert a piece of lawn, or overgrown allotment, into a productive garden?’ The best way to begin is to remove any unwanted features and vegetation, especially perennial weeds. If your goal is to grow organically, there’s an easy way for you to do this — kill weeds with black plastic. The technique is called sheet mulching, and once you lift the plastic, your land will be clear for cultivation.
Some weeds will survive and even after a year of being covered, the dock on my plot is still alive. They show up as white and yellow stems as I lift up the plastic so they’re easy to spot and dig up. Slugs and other pests are easy to see when you lift the plastic too. Take the time to remove and destroy them and you’ll save yourself the pain of them multiplying and eating your veg.
In an area that was just weeds is now a new slightly raised bed. I used timber salvaged from my old plot to build it and filled the inside with soil and compost. You don’t need to convert the land into raised garden beds afterward — that’s just my choice since I garden on a slope. What you will need to do is add a 3-6″ layer of organic matter such as garden compost, rotted horse manure, and rotted mushroom compost to the soil. You can simply spread it on top and let the worms do their work. From weedy land to garden bed, all it took was black plastic, garden compost, and a bit of time.
Leave the plastic on the ground for 2-3 Months
You can get heavy-duty black plastic (polythene/polypropylene) sheeting in other colors. I’ve seen it in a light blue color before and this is also fine for using to kill weeds and clear land. It can be more of an eyesore than black, but if it’s thick enough, no light will get through it either.
After clearing most of my plot using this method, I had just one last weedy corner to tackle. The photos in this piece are from that corner, and to help get it ready for growing, I covered it, and the compost pile beside it, with a layer of heavy-duty black plastic. This is the kind of material that you’ll find used as pond or roof lining and will survive the elements. Thin black plastic, like bin-liners (garbage bags), is not suitable since it easily rips and shreds. Blue tarps and clear or light-colored plastic aren’t great either since some plants will still grow under it.