Soil Solarization

Elimination of weeds without weed killers

Eliminating weeds-soil-solarization
Garden weeds

For many gardeners, one of the greatest challenges that can really be a killer, and an eyesore is having to deal with the elimination of weeds. Weeds do not only take away from the beauty of a well-designed garden and landscape but weeds also present other problems which include.

Weeds compete 

  • With plants for water
  • Robs the soil of nutrients
  • Is a hiding place for insect pests
  • Can promote disease
  • Compete with garden plants for sunlight
  • Weeds are considered invasive and will take over your garden
  • Causes a drop in crop yield
  • Compete for garden plant space
  • Weeds are a resting place for mosquitoes

Soil Solarization

Methods of eliminating weeds

There are many ways to control the growth of weeds. I remembered as a landscape contractor many years ago clearing weeds from the landscaping sites. It was really hard work, digging and pulling weeds.

In fact, pulling weeds was something that I hated and I always looked forward to getting past this that part of the garden project to getting on with the fun stuff like installing plants and grass just to name a few.

Here are ways to eliminate weeds

  • The use of weed killers or herbicides
  • Natural products such as homemade treatments
  • Using mulches
  • Installing ground covers
  • Growing a thick healthy lawn
  • Hand pulling
  • Using a garden hoe.
  • Tilling your soil
  • (Biological control) The use of animals such as sheep, cows, goats, and horses to graze on large areas

When using weed killers remember at all times to follow and read the label because the label is the law. When handling these chemicals safety is always first, weed killers are poison and should be treated as such. Store weed killers in a secure place that is well ventilated away from children and pets.

Soil solarization Advantages

Soil solarization is a pretty cool and effective way of controlling weeds, parasitic nematodes, bacteria, and fungi. This method or technique can take care of a host of problems.

How soil solarization works

1. This method works best when using a site for gardening. Clear the area of rocks and other debris.

2. Next, with a garden hard rake, rake the area.

3. Then use the straight edge or the back of the hard rake to smooth or level the area. This is very important for this method to be effective.

4. Wet or moisten the area with water. Keep reading to find out why.

5. Use a clear plastic tarp which can be purchased from your garden center.

6. Spread the plastic tarp over the entire area to be planted and lay the tarp evenly with the soil.

7. Gently pull the plastic, make sure there is no wrinkle or raffle in it.

8. Pin or secure plastic to the soil surface with garden clips along the edges, if you don’t have clips then rocks  can work as well.

The reason to wet the area before placing the plastic on the soil surface is the plastic covering the soil will become extremely hot, the plastic will cause the soil temperature to rise from the sun’s heat + the wet soil.

Note: This practice is most effective during the summer months when the temperature is high.

This will cause the soil to reach a boiling point or begin to bake, the soil will also be sterilized. This heat will kill all life forms in the soil so you will be starting with almost perfect soil.

10. The longer the plastic stays down the more effective this method but as a set rule wait for 4-6 weeks before removing plastic. Some persons prefer to leave the plastic as mulch and just make holes in the plastic to sow seeds or install plants.

The final word

This method of weed control is very effective and is used by many gardeners to control weeds and other soilborne inhabitants in a natural way. Patience is the key here so it is worth the wait. Give this method a try and reap the rewards of a soil that is almost perfect which will give you a head start on those garden projects.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

7 thoughts on “Soil Solarization”

  1. I had not heard of soil solarization, but I like this method! I do have one question. What if I already have plants in place. Can I put the tarp around the plant and basically do the same thing, or will this kill the roots of the plants that are in place? This is kind of like when people put down weed guard and then do the landscaping on top right? Great information!

    • Hello again Matt’s Mom. Soil Solarization is pretty amazing and is and eviormentally safe way to get rid of weeds. Yes you can place the plastic around your plants just leave sufficient spacing around your plants so that the water and fertilizer  can get to the plants roots. Hope this help and all the best.

  2. I am sure I have seen this covering in gardens before, but just didn’t know that it was Soil Solarization. It seems like a tedious method, but can be effective. Any method without the use of chemicals is definitely safer and healthier. Is it better to use this method before planting or after planting?

    • Hello so happy to see you. Soil Solarization is pretty amazing. It is best to use this method before planting because it can take care of a host of problems all at once.  

      Killing two birds with one stone
      Soil solarization Advantages

      Soil solarization is a pretty cool and effective way of controlling weeds, parasitic nematodes, bacteria, and fungi. This method or technique can take care of a host of problems. Hope this helps. All the best to you and have a good day. 

  3. Hi Norman,
    Eliminating weeds is definitely the most tedious aspect of gardening. I intensely dislike the idea of using chemical weed killers. And, I’ve experienced minimal success with a variety of “natural” weed killers. Soil Solarization sounds like an effective treatment plan to prepare the ground initially and I’m going to give this a try. Thanks for the info!

    • Hello Linda so good to see you. Soil Solarization is a great way to take care not only of weeds but a host of other problems. All the best with your gardening and please let me know how it goes. have a good day.


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