Using temporary black plastic sheet mulch to kill weeds, clear land, and help create a productive vegetable garden. This is a technique used to create organic, no-dig vegetable gardens.
Keyword gardening tips, organic garden
Prep Time 1hour
Cook Time 30minutes
Total Time 1hour30minutes
Black polyethylene (polythene) plastic sheeting
Large stones, weights, or pegs
First, clear the area that you'd like to turn into a vegetable bed or entire vegetable garden. Cut the grass short, and dig up any shrubs or perennial weeds.
It's best to next lay two to three inches of organic compost on the ground. You can also spread the grass clippings, leaves, and any other finely chopped organic material. If you don't lay this layer, the ground will be bare soil when the process is finished and will need more work.
Spread the black plastic sheeting over the entire area you wish cleared. A second person helping will make this step easier, and avoid laying the plastic on a windy day.
Weigh the plastic down at all four corners, along the edges, and throughout the center. Ensure that wind is not going to pick the plastic up and send it sailing to the next county.
If you'd like to increase the amount of air and moisture reaching the soil beneath, pop small holes in the plastic with a pitchfork/garden fork. Doing this can help the soil biota beneath.
Leave the plastic in place for however long it takes to kill the grass and weeds underneath. In the summer it may only take two to three months, in the winter it can take double that. If you have a lot of tough weeds underneath, it may take up to a year.
Peel the plastic back, either all at once or a part at a time, to begin growing in your new growing space. If you've laid compost down first, the ground will be tilled by worms and soil bacteria and ready for planting.
Watch the video below to see how to use heavy-duty black plastic to kill weeds, alongside two other types of sheet mulch. Shows further before and after shots.
If you'd like to clear land the organic way, this is the easiest way to go. For more tips on starting a vegetable garden from scratch, head over here.