Experienced gardeners use mulch as one of their top defenses against heat, cold and drought. Mulch gives soil the ability to soak up more water. It reduces water loss; a 4-inch layer on top of soil dries quicker than the soil, preventing the water from evaporating from the soil, according to the Texas A&M Extension Service. Plastic, an inorganic mulch or mulch not made from natural materials, is the only inorganic choice for vegetable gardens. Use its range of colored options for a variety of purposes.
Select a colored plastic mulch based on your needs--warming soil, weed control, deflecting heat or improving yields.
Apply black plastic mulch in the spring to warm soil. Use clear plastic to deflect heat during the hot summer. Some researchers speculate that colored mulches, through light reflectivity, can achieve improved taste and yield, according to the Penn State Department of Horticulture. Experiment with using red mulch under tomatoes or grow muskmelons on green mulch.
Shovel a 4-inch layer on top of the soil. Do not turn plastic mulch into the soil. At the beginning of the next season, remove the mulch if you choose to till the ground.