The Q&A Archives: Soil Solarization to Kill Weeds

Question: We're looking for an organic way of killing weeds. Does covering the soil with a clear plastic work? How long do we use the solarization process and when should we start?

Answer: Soil solarization does work, but it takes several months and needs to be done during the hottest months of the summer. It's too late to do it now, but next spring you can cover the area with clear plastic to kill the existing weeds and weed seeds in the top few inches of soil. Another method of suppressing weeds is to lay an organic mulch over the bare soil to keep sunlight from penetrating, and keep weed seeds from sprouting. If you apply 3-4 inches of compost, leaf mold, or other organic material now, you can move it to the side when you plant next spring. Laying several thicknesses of newspaper first, then covering with organic matter will be a sure method of killing existing weeds and keeping the area weed free until you're ready to plant next spring. At that time you can turn it into the soil to help enrich the soil, then plant your flowers or veggies.

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