Winter weather extremes are impossible to predict, but your plants shouldn’t take the brunt of the snow, ice, bitter cold temperatures, winds, or flooding rains. It’s clear that the winter of 2023 is going to be unusual in many areas. From bomb cyclones in California to no snow and weeks of spring-like temperatures in Vermont, the changes are stressful to plants.
For all of the money and energy you put into weeding, trimming, and shaping your trees, shrubs, bushes, and flower beds, you should take equal time to protect them. Tarps must be an important part of your plan to keep your plants safe from winter weather. Explore the different tarps you can use to protect your plants and gardens.
Untreated Canvas Tarps
Have you been wrapping your shrubs and bushes in burlap? Switch to untreated canvas for a little more protection. Canvas tarps do get wet and do deteriorate slowly over time, and there are treated canvas tarps out there which may be more tempting to you. Avoid treated canvas in your garden as the wax and oil coating isn’t great for plants. Instead, use untreated canvas until winter ends. At that point, remove the tarp, put it in the wash, and thoroughly dry it.
Not only do you get untreated canvas tarps in sizes up to 40 x 40’, but the tarps also come in dozens of colors. You can add a splash of color to your yard during the drab winter months.
Blue Poly Tarps
Blue poly tarps are stronger and last longer than untreated canvas. Wrap shrubs in blue poly tarps to protect smaller branches from ice and snow. Spread the tarp over the shrubs and use a rope to secure the ends around the bottom of the shrub.
While blue poly tarps are not waterproof, that’s what you want. Some air is allowed to flow around the shrub, which is good for its health. When spring arrives, remove the tarp as soon as buds begin to form.
Purchase blue poly tarps in sizes up to 100 x 100’, which is helpful if you have long rows of shrubs to protect.
Clear PVC Tarps
Do you have beds with spring-blooming vegetables and fruits like garlic, asparagus, and rhubarb? Consider covering those beds with a clear PVC tarp to help them get the sun they need to grow. You can put cement blocks down, spread the tarp across the top of the blocks and weigh it down with more tarps. This elevates the level of the tarp by several inches to create a greenhouse-like environment for them to grow when snow, if you have any, melts in the late winter.
PVC tarps also help shield spring bloomers like crocus, tulips, and daffodils from heavy snow. As areas like Buffalo, New York, received approximately 8.5 feet of snow in November and December. Using the power of the sun to melt that snow as spring arrives will help gardens and plants bounce back.
In late winter, you can also use PVC tarps to establish a greenhouse environment for your seedlings. When the heavy snowfall has delayed the start of the spring gardening season, a greenhouse gives you a jumpstart on growing your favorite vegetables.
Purchase clear PVC tarps in sizes up to 10 x 12’ or 8 x 20’ if you need more length. Custom sizes are also available.
Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps
Vinyl-coated polyester tarps are perfect for reducing wind damage on delicate bushes. The tarps are designed to withstand wind damage and are UV-treated to help the tarp stand up to the intense UV rays from the sun. Vinyl is also good at keeping the area around the bush a little warmer, which can help protect a tree from bitter cold temperatures.
Spread the tarp over the bush and use a rope to secure the edges of the tarp around the base of the bush. With grommets placed every 48 inches, it’s easy to weave the rope through the grommets and then tighten the tarp once it’s in position.
With the heavy winds, tornado warnings, and large hail that were forecasted to hit the Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley, and Gulf Coast in early January, protecting shrubs and bushes from damaging ice and winds is important.
Purchase vinyl-coated poly tarps in sizes up to 10 x 20’ or smaller widths (Slip & Slide tarps) of 10 x 100’ if you have long, narrow gardens to protect.
Silver UVR Poly Tarps
Silver UVR poly tarps resist mildew and water, plus they are protected from damaging UV rays. If you have garden beds, place a silver UVR poly tarp over them for the winter. It keeps seeds from weeds and trees away, and also helps keep debris like pine needles, broken branches, and twigs from getting into your garden and requiring clean-up when spring arrives.
With the tarp in place, when the snow melts, you can pull the tarp off, rinse it off, dry it, and fold it until it’s needed again. Your garden has been protected all winter and is ready for planting. The tarp also helps warm the ground below, so you’ll find the soil thaws faster and is ready for you to turn over as you add manure or additives to improve the soil quality.
Purchase silver UVR poly tarps in sizes up to 30 x 50’.
Iron Horse Polyester Tarps
Iron Horse polyester tarps are the strongest tarps you’ll find. They can take a lot of use and are twice as strong as canvas tarps and are completely waterproof. They allow air to pass, which is ideal if you have plants that need breathability. While more expensive than a cheap blue poly tarp, you will get far more use from this tarp over the years, making it a wise investment.
Purchase Iron Horse tarps in sizes up to 20 x 20’ or in a custom size if that’s preferred.
How to Protect a Garden With a Tarp
If it’s too late to cover a garden with a tarp due to snowfall, what can you do at this late stage? Consider building a quick lean-to structure and draping that over the garden. You can secure the bottom of the tarp using cement blocks and bungee cords or ropes that secure the grommets to the bricks.
Air is still able to pass through, but it will shelter your garden from excess snow and ice. Plus, it helps keep branches and twigs from landing in your garden and damaging plants when it’s extremely windy outside.
Shrubs and bushes are easy to protect. Dig out the base of the bush or shrub and use a canvas or vinyl tarp to protect the bush or shrub for the rest of the winter. This is especially helpful if you’ve been getting more rain than snow and need to stop any more damage from the ice that’s building up and snapping branches.
Could you use some help choosing the best tarp for your plants and gardens? Chicago Canvas has a live chat feature to help you make the best decision based on your needs and budget. Reach out online via live chat or the online contact form to get advice from tarp experts.