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Synthetic Mulch

Plastic row cover and red mulch Synthetics are becoming a common alternative to organic mulches. Ranging from biodegradable magazine wrappers to hi-tech polyethylene products, these help warm the soil, retain moisture, and even provide some frost protection. While sun-loving plants will benefit most, many crops will do much better when these products are used. Keep them away from trees and shrubs.

Black plastic mulches, and especially new near-infrared-selective plastics can also suppress weed growth: the latter allows warming solar rays to reach the soil, but denies any useful light to weeds trapped below it. Both products may be left in place over a season to help sterilize a section of garden.

Simply layer the plastic over the soil and poke holes where seeds will be sown or transplants are to be placed. Rainwater will not penetrate in large amounts, thus protecting from over-watering, but additional water will often need to be supplied, and is easiest using a soaker hose or similar system.

Topics Referenced

Trees and Shrubs
Water and Irrigation

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