The Versatility of Poly Tarps: Practical Uses For Every Season

A polyethylene tarp, a poly tarp for short, takes strands of polyethylene and weaves them together to form the tarp material. Poly tarps are one of the most versatile for year-round use, but you do need to consider a few things when shopping for one.

The Benefits of Poly Tarps Through the Seasons

If you consider the different ways to use a poly tarp throughout the year, you might be surprised. The tarp you purchase is put to good use year-round. Explore all of the ways you can use a tarp throughout the year.


How can you use a poly tarp in the fall? It’s commonly used to cover firewood piles from snow and ice. When your firewood or wood pellets are delivered, cover them in a poly tarp to protect them for the fall and winter seasons. That’s just one possible use.

A poly tarp is a great tool for clearing your yard of leaves. Rake leaves and pine needles onto a tarp. Drag that tarp to your compost pile for clutter-free yard work. Clean it when you’re done, dry it off, and use it again in the spring.

Use a tarp to create walls around your covered deck or porch and extend the season with a wind barrier. You can also use a poly tarp to cover your garden after you apply compost and any additives to help boost the soil’s nutritional content. 

Have you looked into lasagna gardening? If you are trying it, set up your layers of wet cardboard and newspaper, compost, grass clippings, pine needles and leaves, and more cardboard or newspaper. Cover all of that with a poly tarp to help heat up the layers during the winter and start the composting process.

Are you storing a car, boat, or lawn mower for the winter? After draining the oil and gas, cover them with a tarp. It keeps dust and dirt from building up on the exterior. A poly tarp is also useful for covering toys and children’s play areas like a sandbox.


Poly tarps are a great way to block drafts from a door that goes into your home, basement, or garage. If there is cold air coming in gaps around a door that’s not used much in the winter, hang a tarp over it to block the air. It saves money on your heating costs.

It’s often hard to get roofers in the winter. If you find there is a leak coming in before spring arrives, a poly tarp can help keep water from coming in when it snows or rains. 


In the spring, you’ll find a poly tarp is useful for getting loads of crushed stone, bark mulch, or garden soil. Have the truck deposit those items on a tarp and move the items from the tarp to a wheelbarrow. It keeps your grass from collecting these items. When the tarp is almost empty, drag it to where it’s needed and finish depositing the rest of the material in the correct place.

When you mow, a poly tarp is a good way to collect grass clippings to move them to a compost bin. A dark-colored poly tarp can help attract sun and heat pool water faster.


Is your garden flourishing? As you harvest items that need to dry or finish ripening in the sun, set them on a poly tarp to keep bugs away. If you secure the tarp to posts and keep the tarp off the ground, you’ll keep the crops from animals, too.

Head out camping and use a poly tarp as ground cover under your tent. It’s a handy way to keep the bottom of your tent from sitting directly on damp ground. A poly tarp is also helpful for securing any foods and pulling them well off the ground to keep them away from raccoons and bears.

Set up a poly tarp over your child’s sandbox or outdoor chair for a quick sunshade to prevent a painful sunburn. Using ropes, you can quickly secure the tarp to tree limbs or hooks and take them up and down as needed.

FAQs Regarding Poly Tarps

Before choosing the right tarp for your needs, it helps to read through the list of poly tarp FAQs that we hear from a lot of consumers. If these details match what you’re looking for, a poly tarp is your best choice.

Will a poly tarp hold water? Is it waterproof?

Poly tarps are water resistant, but they don’t keep water from leaking through for a long time. If you’re looking for a tarp that holds water for a pond, water feature, or slip ‘n’ slide, a vinyl tarp is a better choice. A poly tarp is good for covering a pool to prevent leaves and sticks from getting into the pool in the fall and winter, though.

How strong is a poly tarp?

Poly tarps are strong. If you want the strongest of them all, an Iron Horse poly tarp is ideal as it takes a poly tarp and adds a coating to make it completely waterproof.

How long do poly tarps last?

With proper care, a poly tarp lasts years. If you leave it where mice can get it, they will create holes. Make sure you put it in a sealed plastic bin or container between uses. It must be clean and dry before storing it or mold and mildew may develop.

Why are tarps different colors?

Some tarps are UV-coated to protect against sun damage. Typically, these tarps are white, black, green, or silver. Blue poly tarps tend to be the lightest weight and are very versatile. It’s why you often see them in discount retailers. They may be versatile, but they could end up lasting less time, so don’t look for the cheapest tarp, look for one that matches your needs.

Why do the listings say cut size or finish size?

Tarps come in cut size or finish size. Cut size is the dimension of the tarp before the hems, seams, and grommets are added. Finish size is the size of the tarp after they’re added. Always make sure you know what you’re buying. Once the tarp’s seams and grommets are added, it reduces the edges by a few inches. It’s an important consideration to keep in mind when buying a poly tarp.

Chicago Canvas offers sale pricing on all of our poly tarps. If you need help finding the right tarp for your needs, our customer support team is available through live chat. We’re happy to help. Plus, we offer custom sizing on many of our poly tarps, so don’t worry if you don’t see the size you need. Let Chicago Canvas know how we can help.