Water sometimes pools on the surface of black plastic mulch. Poking a few holes allows the water to drain into the soil, but too many holes makes it easier for weeds to penetrate through the plastic and invade the garden bed. Plastic also warms up the soil. Although this is beneficial in cool weather or early in the season, it can stress plants during hot weather. Covering the plastic with a 1-inch layer of straw helps cool down the bed. If you use plastic in an ornamental garden, a thin layer of bark mulch can camouflage the unattractive plastic. Dispose of plastic at the end of the growing season, because it won’t decompose in the garden or in a compost pile.
Black plastic works best on annual beds, because the plastic will tear and require replacement every year. Red plastic is sometimes used for annual vegetable crops such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), which may benefit from the red reflected light. The plastic blocks both sunlight and oxygen from reaching weeds, so they can’t germinate or grow. Holes in the plastic allow your desired plants to grow and receive sunlight. Plastic doesn’t allow moisture penetration, however. Installing a drip irrigation system over the top of the bed before laying the plastic is preferable; otherwise, you must water each plant by hand where the soil is exposed at the base of the plants.
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.
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.
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.
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.
But at the same time as it breaks down, you will need to replace it on a fairly regular basis. You may find that unless you put landscaping fabric or plastic under it, you will still see a small quantity of very brave weeds poking through any holes.
GROWING TIRED OF WATCHING the weeds in your garden grow faster than your veggies? It’s a common garden dilemma. And it’s common for proactive gardeners (like yourself) to look for a way to put an end to this cycle. Looking for a way to keep the weeds at bay without resorting to spending a lot of time on your knees or working with a hoe. But do any of them actually work?
This roll of black sheeting can easily be adapted for use as landscaping plastic and at 12 feet wide is sure to cover a large area of your garden in a hurry. Each roll is 100 feet long each roll provides a lot of coverage. At 6 millimeters, the plastic is thick enough to take significant abuse without falling apart.
Covalence Plastics Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting
It is perfect for smaller plants that will in time grow large enough to provide more shade that will also help to keep weeds out of your garden.
Unlike some “wood” mulch, Scotts never uses wood pallets or old construction debris to make this mulch. It is made from natural recovered forest products that do not contain harmful chemical or nails.
The Jury is Still Out
Mulch is one of the oldest forms of weed prevention short of getting down on your hands and knees so you can pull each weed complete with its roots out of the ground. Depending on the type of mulch you intend to buy, it can be a great way to control the weeds in your garden naturally.
It is available in a range of colors that are guaranteed to stay vibrant all year long. Each bag measure 2 cubic feet for maximum coverage. It should be spread 3 inches thick for maximum weed prevention while still allowing moisture to reach your plants.