How to Solarize Soil

By eHow Contributing Writer

Rid your soil completely of weeds, pests and diseases - without harmful chemicals. The process of solarizing uses the heat of the summer sun to raise the soil temperature high enough to kill the harmful organisms and seeds hiding in the soil.

Things You'll Need:


  1. Step 1

    Determine what kind of soil you have (see "Check Soil Drainage"). Soil that is either too hard (compacted clay) or too sandy can be remedied by adding organic materials such as homemade compost, manure or shredded wood products.

  2. Step 2

    Amend as needed (see "Choose a Soil Amendment). Lay a 3-inch layer of the organic matter over the soil and work it evenly into the top 8 to 9 inches of soil using a garden fork or a shovel. For soil that is extremely hard, dig down several feet to break apart the soil and layer in compost throughout the depth of the bed.

  3. Step 3

    Till and level the intended area of soil. The bed should be at least 2 feet wide to limit heat loss around the edges.

  4. Step 4

    Soak the soil thoroughly. This may take hours with a sprinkler attachment.

  5. Step 5

    Cover the entire bed with a single sheet of 1 to 4 mm clear plastic.

  6. Step 6

    Lay the edge of the sheeting in a trench and cover it securely with soil so no heat can escape.

  7. Step 7

    Leave the plastic in place for a minimum of six weeks, clearing away debris and rainwater that may accumulate on the plastic and block the sun's rays. The longer the plastic cover stays, the greater the benefits.

  8. Step 8

    Remove the plastic, and if there is still time left in your growing season, begin planting shallowly in the top few inches of soil. Save the sheeting to use again.

  9. Step 9

    Spread a layer of mulch over the beds to preserve moisture, suppress weeds and continue to add organic material to the soil as it breaks down. Ground bark or homemade compost work well and should be laid 2 to 4 inches thick.


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