The Q&A Archives: Solarizing Soil

Question: I recently turned and enriched a 10x 50 area for a new border. Weeds are germinating. I remember reading that if such an area were covered with clear plastic for 6 to 8 weeks it would kill the weed seeds. Do I need to eliminate the weeds that have already germinated before covering or will the heat kill them too?

Answer: 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 your new flowers in the spring. Or, you can turn it into the soil, plant, and then add more mulch material in the spring. Either way your new flower border should present fewer weed problems next spring and summer.

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