Plastic mulch has increased in popularity in recent years primarily due to the variety of colors and how it affects crops. Black mulch warms up the ground while clear plastic mulch keeps it cooler. And certain colored mulches through light reflectivity have shown to increase yields. Melons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, okra and squash are all vegetables that appear to benefit from the use of plastic mulch with increases in yield, quality and earliness according to the North Carolina State University Extension. Use more than one layer of mulch for extra protection from weeds and to increase the intensity of color and possibly warm or cool the ground even more.
Till the area you choose to mulch with a rake or rototiller. Dislodge all rocks and weeds and remove by hand. Throw weeds into a trash container and move rocks to another area of your yard.
Apply a 1-inch layer of compost to the top of the soil to amend it and increase its fertility. Till the area again to incorporate the compost into the soil.
Rake the soil until smooth.
Water the soil until moist.
Start with the roll still rolled up and lay sheets of 3 to 4 feet wide plastic mulch to cover a standard row. For smaller gardens, use large sheets that cover the entire area.
Weigh down the first end of the plastic with large rocks, bricks or another heavy object from your yard. Unroll to the opposite end and cut the plastic mulch with scissors. Weigh down the opposite end with a heavy object.
Add additional layers by unrolling the same size layers of the mulch and weighing down until finished adding layers.
Bury each end of the plastic mulch by digging a trench with a shovel, placing the edge of the mulch in the trench and packing the soil around it. Or continue to use the rocks to weigh down the mulch edges.