How to Use Plastic in My Southern Garden


Southern gardens are characterized by long-hot summers and short, mild winters. Gardening in the South involves daily removal of weeds. If weed control is not attended to daily in a garden, the weeds can establish themselves and compete with garden plants for resources. One way that Southern gardeners can cut down on the amount of weeding they must do is to use plastic mulch to smother weeds in a garden.

Step 1

Select a location for your garden in full sun. Most vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight to thrive.

Step 2

Test your soil in fall before spring gardening. A soil test can tell you the pH and nutrient content of the soil as well as make recommendations for soil amendments. Most agricultural colleges through the South maintain soil-analysis laboratories in conjunction with their community and continuing educational programs. By contacting your local county-extension service, you will receive information on how to take and submit a soil sample.

Step 3

Break up your soil to a depth of 8 inches. Spread soil amendments over the soil to a depth of 4 inches. Mix the amendments with your soil using the rototiller. Most Southern gardens can benefit from amendments that include compost, manure and peat moss. You can break up clay soil with gypsum and raise the pH of soil with lime. You can lower the pH of your soil with sulfur.

Step 4

Cut plastic landscaping mulch so that it will fit in your garden. Tack down the edges of the fabric using landscaping mulch staples.

Step 5

Plant bedding plants in your garden after the last average frost date in your region by cutting a hole through the plastic for the plants. Dig a hole deep enough to fit the plant root ball inside. Fill in the soil around the plant roots and fold down the plastic around the plant.

Step 6

Cover the plastic with mulch to help hold in moisture under the plants and prevent the black plastic from overheating.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Scissors
  • Black plastic
  • Mulch staples
  • Bedding plants
  • Wood-chip mulch


  • NC State University: Using Plastic Mulches and Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Production
  • Mississippi State University: Mulching
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Plastic Mulch Cover for Vegetables

Who Can Help

  • The United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: mulching the garden, using black plastic, killing weeds

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."