How to Use Plastic Mulch

Overview

Plastic mulch is the term used by commercial farmers for the placement of thin plastic sheets over the top of the soil surrounding crops. Plastic mulch is inexpensive and a useful means of recycling plastic; however, plastic mulch cannot break down into the soil like natural mulches and will not add any nutrients to the soil. Plastic mulch may also negatively affect soil ventilation if not properly installed.

Step 1

Select your color. Black plastic mulch prevents weed growth by blocking out sunlight from reaching the soil. Clear plastic mulch increases the soil's heat by magnifying the sun's rays. Increased soil heat is especially useful when planting winter crops to encourage vigorous growth.

Step 2

Prepare the soil with any desired enhancements, such as fertilizers and composts. Cover the soil with a 1-inch layer of hay. Use a rake to spread the layer evenly. The hay will act as a spacer between the plastic mulch and the ground, allowing room for aeration and moisture evaporation.

Step 3

Cut the plastic mulch into strips of your desired length.

Step 4

Secure the mulch to the ground using landscape hooks. Landscape hooks press into the ground, similar to tent stakes.

Step 5

Cut out holes for the plants. The hole should be twice the radius of the plant's stalk. This ensures the plant's immediate root system is exposed to light and air.

Things You'll Need

  • Hay
  • Rake
  • Scissors
  • Landscape hooks

References

  • NC State University Horticultural Leaflets: Using Plastic Mulches and Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Production
  • Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: Use of Plastic Mulch and Row Covers in Vegetable Production
Keywords: plastic mulch, using plastic mulch, proper mulching installation

About this Author

Steven White is a privately contracted software engineer, web developer, and tech support representative. He has 3 years of experience providing technical support for AT&T broadband customers. He is currently a Master's of Software Engineering student and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with others.