Can I Use Tarps As Landscape Weed Fabric Barriers?

 Keeping weeds out of your landscaping ensures you have a low-maintenance, attractive garden, but there are things you should and shouldn’t do to make this system work effectively. If you put in the time and consideration, you’ll have weed-free landscaping.

 What’s important to remember is that water won’t always get through certain tarps. That keeps your plants from getting the water they need. If you have drought-tolerant plants, this may not bother you. Trees, shrubs, and flowers, however, need the water to thrive. Choosing the right tarp to use as a landscape weed fabric barrier is essential.

 Factors to Consider When Using Tarp as a Weed Barrier

 Before you purchase a tarp to use as landscaping fabric, make sure you’ve considered the pros and cons. Tarps don’t always help in the way you are planning unless you’ve taken the time to research the right tarp for the job.

 Draw a Rough Sketch First

 Before you do anything, draw a sketch of the landscaped garden you want. Measure the area in your yard and put in stakes to mark the boundaries. You can use spray paint to mark edges if needed. Map out what you want in the landscaped area and where it will go. This gives you a guide when you’re placing the landscaping weed barrier and all of the plants.

 The Tarp Should Let Water Through

 In most cases, you need landscaping fabric that allows moisture from the rain or watering system to seep through the tarp and into the soil below. If you don’t ensure water can seep through, you’ll starve the plants of water and nutrients. If you cut a lot of holes, weeds will work their way through. You want to avoid holes and slits in the tarp as much as you can.

 That said, there’s one way to use a waterproof tarp for landscaping fabric. Place it everywhere that you don’t have the plants. You want to place it around the plants in a manner that prevents the need to cut or poke holes. 

 For example, suppose you want to lay the tarp around a row of azalea bushes. Get two tarps and lay one on the front of the bushes and the other behind. The beds in front of and behind the bushes are weed-free, but the bushes have water coming in through the gaps between the two tarps. Cover the tarps with crushed stone or mulch to hold them down.

When you add holes, weeds will get through. If you set the tarp around plants, you may need to weed where the tarps are placed around plants, but the rest of the garden bed won’t need attention. 

If you absolutely must add holes or make slits, soak sheets of newspaper and layer them around the plant and tuck the edges under the tarp. Wet newspaper is pliable, so it’s easy to shape around the plants and trunks. Those wet sheets of newspaper keep weeds away for you. 

The Tarp’s Color Is Important

 When choosing a tarp for your landscape weed fabric barriers, aim for a black plastic tarp. Black is best at blocking the sunlight and preventing weed growth. What if you can’t get the tarp you want in black? Aim for the darkest color possible. Dark brown, dark green, and dark gray are other options.

 Purchase the Correct Size

 Make sure the tarp you order is the right size. If you’re planning a landscaped area that’s 15×30′, you need a landscaping tarp that’s just a little larger. Tarp specialists like Chicago Canvas & Supply sell tarps in cut size rather than finish size. To add the seams and hems, about three inches per side is used up.

 If you order a tarp that is 15×30′ and don’t realize the measurements are cut size, the tarp you end up receiving will be around 14.5×29.5′. It will be a little too small, leading to frustration. Always check if the tarps are cut size or finish size when ordering the

 Be Adventurous When Landscaping

 When you’re landscaping your yard, be adventurous. Weed blocking fabric is one option, but you could explore the use of a vinyl tarp and building a water garden instead of a traditional garden. Purchase a solar-powered pump and put in rocks, and waterfalls. Add fish for natural mosquito control. Water lilies and other water plants add bursts of color.

 You can also look at turning a portion of your yard into a Zen garden. Set down the weed-blocking tarp and cover it with sand that is evened out into a layer that’s several inches thick. Add large vases, rocks, potted bonsais, and sand. Once the rocks and other items are in place, use gardening tools to create the patterns in the sand.

 Choose the Right Type of Tarp

 Finally, take your landscaping plans and start considering the type of tarp that best fits your needs. If you’re aiming for a Japanese sand garden, a tarp that lets water drain is important, otherwise you end up with a soggy mess. A tarp that is completely waterproof is best for water gardens. For traditional gardens, most tarps will work, but you need to cover them with stones or mulch for aesthetics and drainage.

 Understand the Different Types of Tarps

 Chicago Canvas has a comprehensive selection of tarps. When you’re looking for weed barriers, you’ll often see these options. Not every material is right for your needs.

  1. Canvas Tarps

Start your search for the right tarp with canvas. Canvas is durable as they’re made of cotton. They will decompose over time when laid over a garden bed. Untreated canvas tarps allow water through to the soil below, but they’re not treated, which means they’ll break down faster than treated canvas.

  • Different thicknesses available (16- or 18-ounce weights)
  • Breathable
  • Bulk pricing
  1. Iron Horse Tarps

An Iron Horse tarp is completely waterproof, but it’s a breathable fabric, so air can get through. It’s available in black. It’s going to last, but it’s also a more expensive tarp. The cost of this tarp makes it an unlikely contender as landscaping fabric.

  • Waterproof
  • Sizes ranging from 5×7′ to 20×20′
  • Available by the yard, too
  1. Poly Tarps

One of the biggest benefits of a poly tarp is that it’s UV treated and withstands constant exposure to the sun. It’s also water-resistant and comes in a variety of thicknesses, making it a good choice for blocking weeds, but you won’t find it in black. Dark brown and dark green is your best color choices if you’re considering using a poly tarp for weed control.

  • Sizes ranging from 8×10′ to 30×50′ (Green) and 12×20′ to 40×60′ (Brown)
  • UV-treated/protected
  • Resists water and mildew
  1. Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarps are thick and coated in vinyl making them exceptional at weed control and blocking water. You can get this tarp in black, which is the best color for landscaping fabric.

  • Sizes ranging from 5×7′ to 10×20′
  • Resists abrasion and tearing
  • UV-treated

Those are the best tarps for landscape weed-blocking fabric. What’s the next step? Narrow down the tarps that you feel are best to two or three. Our experts help you finalize your choice, going over the pros and cons of each.

From there, we’ll help you order the correct size. Don’t forget, we match competitors’ prices on identical items if their prices beat ours. Call or email Chicago Canvas to talk about your landscape design.