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Keeping your garden and lawn healthy can be tricky. You don't have to reach for the weed killer though. If weeds, soil-borne diseases and pests are posing a serious problem, learning to solarize your soil surface can help.
This all-natural technique utilizes the sun to heat the soil, kill lawn weeds and fight off a variety of different issues, including a pest problem or soil-borne pathogen issue.
Use this guide to learn more about soil solarization today. You'll be surprised just how easy it is even if you've never done any serious lawn and garden maintenance on your own before.
Level Your Garden and Soak with Water
Learning how to solarize soil is just a simple three-step process. You will need at least six weeks during the hottest part of the year to create solarized soil.
The first step is to level your garden or raised bed by clearing all rocks, debris and plant material. This step may take some time in a large garden or backyard, but it is required for proper solarization.
Once your work area is clear, grab a garden hose and soak the garden soil to a depth of at least one foot. Ample soil moisture is essential for creating solarized soil.
The next step in the process is to lay down plastic. For this, you'll be using clear plastic sheeting, a silage tarp or a standard plastic tarp to help you create healthy soil. Here's how to lay down plastic properly:
- Lay down the plastic in your work area. Work carefully to ensure smooth edges if you're putting plastic in a raised bed.
- Pull the plastic as tightly as possible across the surface of your work area or raised bed.
- Use staples to secure the plastic in place. Securing your clear plastic sheet or plastic tarp in place with staples will keep wind, rain and weed seeds out, while effectively trapping the heat you want.
Tip: Make sure you don't have mounds of soil piled up when you're tackling your yard or raised bed maintenance before solarization. Solarization works best when all of the soil is an equal distance from the plastic. This will provide proper heating to the entire area.
Remove the Plastic and It's Ready
Over the warm summer months, your soil temperature will rise when covered with plastic sheeting or a tarp. This process of soil solarization should help you get rid of perennial weeds and other common garden issues without soil fumigants.
Before you can remove the plastic, you'll want to wait six to eight weeks for the soil solarization process to take place. After six to eight weeks have passed, you should have healthy soil that's ready for planting again.
All you need to do is remove the plastic and figure out what you want to plant in your garden or raised bed.
Soil solarization works in all types of gardens, making it a great choice for big backyards and serious fruit and vegetable growers. Soil solarization is especially effective in raised beds. With a little bit of patience, this process will help give you a bountiful harvest next year, whether you're growing fruits and vegetables, beautiful roses or native plants around your home.
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