Do I Use Black Plastic Under My Mulch or Not?

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Landscaping can enhance the overall appearance of a home, making it feel more welcoming. When landscaping, many homeowners aim to create relatively maintenance-free gardens or lawns, such as not having to pull weeds on a regular basis. Black plastic can be beneficial in some of these landscaping projects.

Identification: Black Plastic

  • Black plastic is used in landscaping to prevent weeds or plants from coming through the mulch, acting as a barrier between the mulch and the ground. This prevents the mulch from composting into the ground, while also preventing weeds from occurring. Black plastic is available in many different widths and lengths. It is also available with or without perforated holes. Black plastic can be used with either organic mulch (bark, wood chips) or inorganic mulch (gravel, stone).

Benefits of Black Plastic

  • Black plastic is extremely beneficial for use beneath inorganic or organic mulch. The plastic does not allow any air or sunlight through, which kills any weeds or unwanted plants beneath it. It also prevents future unwanted plants from occurring. When properly laid, the plastic also helps retain an even ground temperature, which can be ideal for growing certain varieties of plants.

When Not to Use Black Plastic

  • In some instances, it may not be beneficial to use black plastic beneath the mulch. For example, in a vegetable garden, the plastic will not decompose. However, there is seasonal landscaping fabric that can be used which biodegrades. It, combined with organic mulch, can be tilled into the soil at the start of the next season. This adds to the nutrients in the soil, which is beneficial to the garden during the following season.

Alternatives: Black Landscaping Fabric

  • Amateur gardeners or those new to the gardening world may not realize a difference between black landscaping fabric and black plastic. Black landscaping fabric can also be used beneath mulch with much success. However, landscaping fabric allows for more breathing room in the soil as well as allowing water through the soil. Much like plastic sheeting, they come in a variety of lengths and widths.

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