The Q&A Archives: Sterilized Soil

Question: How do I sterilize soil? (I have a big pile of dirt that contains all sorts of growing things. I want to use the dirt to fill in other areas, but do not want to transplant the vegetation.

Answer: There are several approaches to controlling weeds in a dirt pile. You will find that many of the annual weeds are uprooted and killed during the process of moving and spreading the soil. Existing weeds can be removed by hand or by using herbicide containing glyphosate. It is especially important to remove perennial weeds prior to planting into the soil. Keep in mind that buried weed seeds will not germinate for the most part unless they are brought near the surface. They can then be killed as they emerge either with herbicide containing glyphosate or by disturbing them at a very young, small size by raking or hoeing. You could also cover the spread out soil with clear plastic and solarize it to kill the weed seeds near the surface, but this process takes several months and must be done during the hottest part of the year.

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