Polythene used to cover small garden to kill weeds

Killing Weeds with Polythene

A benefit of a small area like the Tiny Patch is that you have a variety of different easy options to kill off weeds.

One that I prefer to use during this time of the year is the use of polythene to kill off weeds during the winter months.

The benefits of polythene are:
It’s cheap for a small area, or you could see who has some you could recycle.
It’s a chemical free option
It’s low maintenance

If there are benefits there are going to be some negatives:
Depending on what you believe in, plastic could be causing some harm to the environment
It’s a pain to sort out by yourself in large areas, or when it is windy
You will need something to weigh it down

If you were in a larger area or patch, your weed removal strategy might be something like this:
Rip out large weeds
Spraying the area with a broad spectrum or focused weed killer
Planting a cover crop. This will suppress weed growth and provide nitrogen fixing benefits to the soil
The cover crop will then be tilled into the soil creating a green mulch

Polythene used to cover small garden to kill weeds

How Polythene Kills Weeds

Covering your garden or pumpkin patch with black polythene kills weeds, using 2 different methods.

The first is blocking light. Light of course is a major component for any plant to grow.

Solarisation is the other part, even on winter days the sun heats up the polythene which in turns heats up the soil. Making the environment unsuitable and cooking the plants, weed seeds, bad soil pathogens. This can be achieved faster if using clear polythene. I like using black polythene during the winter months as it cancels out all the light as well.

Paving stone weighing down edge of polythene

My Setup and Experience

For the Tiny Patch I am lucky that one piece of polythene is enough to cover the whole area.

To weigh it down I use some paving stones that I ended up buying, as it was faster and easier to pay for them, then to track down some free ones.

Black polythene in NZ usually comes in two thicknesses 100 Micron and 200 Micron in the smaller pack sizes. Larger pieces can even come in 250 micron, and the thickness can be different again with the clear type.

Either thickness will work, but I went with the thicker one which is less likely to get puncture holes in it. Allowing me to use it for many years to come.

While effects of plastic on a garden or lawn can be seen in a very short space of time. Leaving it there for longer is ideal as the solarisation effect is greater.

The sooner you can get it set up, the better the results closer to the time when you are ready to plant.

Polythene on garden with water splash next to it

What do you prefer

What is your weed killing preference? What do you use, and how to you find other methods?

Leave a comment below.

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