To mulch is to cover the soil with two objectives in mind: increasing the moisture retention of your soil and keeping the weeds at a minimum. As far as those two objectives go, no mulch works better than black plastic mulching.
Well, black plastic mulching is exactly that. Covering the soil with heavy gauge kaveera (the kind of black plastic used in construction for house foundations) for purposes of keeping the soil moist and weeds at bay.
The airtightness keeps evaporation away while the black colour of the plastic keeps the weeds starved of light resulting in their death. For as long as the plastic is in the garden, there won’t be any weeds.
As any agronomist or green-thumbed person will tell you, any time you keep evaporation down in your garden, the result is that the plant roots remain in the nutrient-rich layer just below the surface instead of having to dig deeper following the water.
Roots tend to be more stressed the deeper they go, and the result is a miserable garden in your backyard.
So why is it uncommon? According to Mike Ssali, an agronomist based in Kampala, people are not exposed to it in this country, and those who know about it find it expensive.
He says: “I have used it in the past and I found it quite expensive.
A square metre of heavy-gauge plastic (black) goes for shs5,000 and more. And most plastic on the market doesn’t last long. So it needs constant replacement.”
However, for the cool city dwellers who demand nothing short of a green backyard, black plastic mulching needs to be given some serious consideration.
The cost of buying a dozen square metres of plastic will be worth it when your compare it with how much you will have saved in watering and weeding.
Black plastic and watering
Ssali says even with black plastic mulching, watering will still be needed for optimum soil moisture.
“The best watering when you have black plastic mulching is drip irrigation. Sprinklers will be useless for obvious reasons.
Perforated hose pipes beneath the plastic are the best and only option of watering.
For those who are growing vegetables in their backyards instead of flowers, this mulching option is great for you. “For anyone growing things like lettuce [in the backyard], black plastic mulching is the best choice of mulch,” he says.
Newly planted trees
Black plastic mulching is a great choice when you have newly planted trees.
The obvious reason is that the plastic keeps almost all the much-needed moisture in the soil for the tender plant to be pampered at all times. No wind or sun will take away the much-needed water in the soil.
As all good mulching goes, the area immediately around the the stem should be left free to allow freedom of growth. The same case applies with black plastic mulching. If you plan to stand flower pots in your backyard garden, you must make sure that the soil beneath the pot is plastic-free or else, it will stifle rooting.
Black plastic is the best weed remedy. White plastic works well in keeping the soil moist, but it won’t stop weeds from sprouting. That is why black plastic is the real deal.
If what you want to keep green is one tree, you need to follow the general rule of mulching and cover the ground as far as the plants canopy goes. The canopy of the tree always tells you how wide the root network of the plant is.
With zero possibility of weeds and minimal watering, black plastic mulching saves you so much time and money which you can in turn use to do relax in your garden. Black plastic mulching might be rare but it doesn’t need to be. It’s advantages are simply no-brainer.