Film mulch has gradually been popularized to increase water availability to crops for improving and stabilizing agricultural production in the semiarid areas of Northwest China. To find more sustainable and economic film mulch methods for alleviating drought stress in semiarid region, it is necessary to test optimum planting methods in same cultivation conditions. A field experiment was conducted during 2013 and 2014 to evaluate the effects of different plastic film mulch methods on soil water, soil temperature, water use efficiency (WUE), yield and revenue. The treatments included: (i) the control, conventional flat planting without plastic film mulch (CK); (ii) flat planting with maize rows (60 cm spacing) on plastic film mulch (70 cm wide); (iii) furrow planting of maize (60 cm spacing), separated by consecutive plastic film-mulched ridges (each 50 cm wide and 15 cm tall); (iv) furrow planting of maize (60 cm spacing), separated by alternating large and small plastic film-mulched ridges (large ridges: 70 cm wide and 15 cm tall, small ridges 50 cm wide and 10 cm tall); and (v) furrow-flat planting of maize (60 cm spacing) with a large plastic film-mulched ridge (60 cm wide and 15 cm tall) alternating with a flat without plastic film-mulched space (60 cm wide). Topsoil temperature (5–25 cm) was significantly ( p < 0.05) higher in field plots with plastic film mulch than the control (CK), and resulted in greater soil water storage (0–200 cm) up to 40 days after planting. Maize grain yield and WUE were significantly ( p < 0.05) higher with the furrow planting methods (consecutive film-mulched ridges and alternating film-mulched ridges) than the check in both years. Maize yield was, on average, 29% ( p < 0.05) greater and 28% ( p < 0.05) greater with these furrow planting methods, while the average WUE increased by 22.8% ( p < 0.05) with consecutive film-mulched ridges and 21.1% ( p < 0.05) with alternating film-mulched ridges. The 2-year average net income increased by 1559, 528, and 350 Chinese Yuan (CNY) ha −1 with the consecutive film-mulched ridges, furrow-flat planting and alternating film-mulched ridges, respectively, compared with the control (CK). We conclude that the consecutive film-mulched ridge method was the most productive and profitable for maize in this semi-arid area with limited and erratic precipitation.