Using Plastic Mulch in Your Garden Using Plastic Mulch in Your Garden

Plastic mulch is popular in gardens for many reasons. There are several types of plastic to choose from, and they all have their own benefits. If you are considering using a plastic material for mulch, here is some basic information you should be aware of.

Pros

Using plastic mulch can increase the temperature of the soil. This is useful in areas that have shortened summers, or for gardens that are started indoors as seedlings. The plastic will increase the growing season by several weeks, which is beneficial for vegetables that require a long season.

Plastic mulch will also remain loose, allowing adequate oxygen to reach the roots. Using organic mulch can sometimes suffocate the root formation, making for less than desirable crop production. Because the plastic creates a more breathable base, the plants will not suffer from rot in the root systems. Weed control is much easier when using a plastic mulch too.

Cons

Plastic mulch can be more costly in the beginning. Although, if you are using the mulch for vegetables you can make up the profits with a earlier harvest. It must be removed each year before tilling. Some plastics are not bio-degradable, and the ones that are can take years to break down.

Plastic mulch will require more work as well. The soil needs to be monitored almost daily until the garden has established. The soil is more likely to erode between the mulched areas, meaning more maintenance to prevent this.

Mulch Color

Plastic mulch is available in several colors. Black plastic mulch is one of the most popular types, and it works well in any garden. Red plastic mulch is also available, and is used most commonly with tomatoes. It can also be useful for other fruits and vegetables where early ripening is desirable. Silver mulch will help expand the root system, providing larger blooms in higher quantities. Blue mulch tends to work best on squash, cucumbers, and melons. The mulch color makes a difference because of the difference in the way light reflects and absorbs with different colors.

Plant Varieties

There are many types of plants which will benefit from plastic mulch. While it's most commonly seen with vegetable gardens, it can also be used successfully with many flowers and shrubs. Sunflowers will benefit from the higher soil temperatures that plastic mulch provides. Many types of ground cover plants benefit from the plastic mulch as well. With vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, melons, okra, sweet corn, some beans, peas, eggplant, pumpkin, onion, and squash all excel with plastic mulches. 

Laying it Out

What you are growing will have a lot to do with how you will place the plastic mulch. The most common way to do this is to prepare the soil first. Plant the seeds, and allow the seedlings to begin to develop. Once they are developing you can begin to lay out the mulch. It will usually be laid out in strips between the rows of seedlings. The mulch will need to be anchored down once in place. 

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