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plastic to stop weeds from growing

Plastic to stop weeds from growing

The plastic used for controlling weeds is called plastic sheeting. Black plastic, sometimes used for vegetable gardens, serves the purposes of mulch and helps warm the soil. It’s particularly useful for plants that need warm weather and warm soil. Using plastic for gardening also has some drawbacks.

Plastic Sheeting

Landscape fabrics function like plastic sheeting for blocking weeds. The fabric has the advantage of allowing water, nutrients and air through. As with plastic sheeting, landscape fabric lasts longer and looks better when it’s covered with a layer of another mulch. Add 1 to 3 inches of gravel, lava rock or bark to improve its ability to retain moisture and insulate plant roots.

Breathable Weed-Prevention

Laying plastic on garden areas helps smother weeds. It retains soil moisture, too. A disadvantage is that it interferes with water reaching your plants. If you’re using an automatic watering system, make sure the emitters are beneath the plastic. After clearing the garden plot of weeds, lay the plastic sheeting and cut slits for the plants. Spread mulch, such as bark or gravel, over the plastic. This slows down the breakdown of the plastic. Plastic sheeting can warm the soil too much for plants that do better in cool weather.

Thin plastic sheets can kill weeds and prevent future weed growth in your vegetable or ornamental garden beds. Solarization methods use plastic to prepare new beds, while mulching with plastic stops further weed growth after you plant. Plastic also retains soil moisture so you can use less water, while warming the soil in cool weather.

Soil Solarization

Any amendments or fertilizer should be added to the garden before you install the plastic. After installation, soluble fertilizers are the only amendment you can add easily. After the soil is prepared and any drip systems are installed, lay the plastic over the soil surface. Overlap the edges by 6 inches so weeds won’t grow between the joints. The outer edges require anchoring so they don’t blow up. You can place rocks or soil on the edges, or anchor them down with garden staples. Cut a hole in the plastic for each plant, making it large enough so you can plant the roots without the plastic resting against the stems.

Mulch Installation

Clear plastic can stop weeds before you put in your new garden bed. Sunlight passes through the plastic, and the heat becomes trapped, effectively cooking the weeds and seeds near the soil surface. You must till in any fertilizer or amendments before you solarize, because tilling afterward can turn up deeply buried but still viable weed seeds. After moistening the soil, cover the bed with 2- to 4-ml plastic. It takes four to six weeks of intense sunlight to kill the weeds, so use this method during the hottest, sunniest part of summer.

Plastic to stop weeds from growing

All you have to do to kill weeds with plastic sheeting is to cover the area with the sheeting; black polythene plastic sheeting or the like, flat on the ground. Weight or stake the plastic down.

That’s it. If you like you can poke some small holes in the plastic to allow air and moisture to escape but it isn’t necessary. Allow the sheeting to stay in place for 6 weeks to up to 3 months.

The plastic is laid down during the hottest months and left for 6-8 weeks. During this time the plastic heats the soil to such an extent that it kills any plants beneath it. At the same time the intense heat also kills some pathogens and pests while inducing the soil to release any stored nutrients as organic matter breaks down.

As to whether you should clear or black plastic sheeting for weeds, the jury is somewhat out. Generally black plastic is recommended but there is some research that says that clear plastic works well too.

How does Plastic Sheeting for Weeds Work?

Yes, you can kill weeds with plastic. The technique is called sheet mulching or soil solarization and is a terrific organic (yes, the plastic is environmentally unfriendly but it can be saved for reuse over and over) and no fuss way to rid a potential garden space of weeds.

Solarization can also occur in the winter, but will take longer.

So you want to start a new garden space but it is so covered in weeds you don’t know where to begin. If you want to be a good steward of the earth chemicals aren’t an option, so what can you do? You’ve heard of using plastic sheeting for weeds, but can you kill weeds with plastic? It makes sense that you could prevent garden weeds with plastic, but can you kill existing weeds with a plastic tarp? Keep reading as we investigate how to kill weeds with plastic sheeting.

Can you Kill Weeds with Plastic?

You may have heard of or even have in your landscape, plastic sheeting laid under bark mulch or gravel; one way to prevent garden weeds with plastic, but can you kill existing weeds with plastic sheeting?

Once you remove the plastic sheeting, grass and weeds will have been killed off and all you need to do is add some organic compost into the soil and plant!