Garden Usage of Billboard Tarps

ClareBroommaker's picture

A few years ago my husband found and brought home a billboard tarp.  I think it is nylon and/or vinyl in a coarse weave.  The length of it just happened to be the width of a narrow garden bed we have along a fence.  That bed gets invaded from the neighbor's side by vigorous weeds.  My pratice has been put to down leaves over winter on that bed, top it with more in spring, and then cover it all with a piece of that billboard tarp, secured to the soil with u-shaped pins cut from metal coat hangers.  I just make slits to plant into it.

Now for several years I've liked the results.  There's good air exchange, water falls right through the tarp, the soil below is active and has a nice tilth, and the weeds are so few that I can mostly just ignore them.

However, I have to pull up the tarp piece pronto at the end of the growing season.  After months in the sun (keeping in mind it already had weeks or months in the sun when it was on a billboard), it is getting fragile and will practically crumble to bits.  If I leave it into winter, it just is a mess, very hard to pick up the pieces.

So I offer that as a tip in case you have access to on old billbord tarp, but I am also looking for someone who has experience using these tarps.

Have you used one outdoors?  Did it last more than a season for you?  I'm wondering whether I want to bother trying to get another.  As a several years experiment it was acceptable, but I think I only want to go out of my way to get another such tarp if I can both get it free and have some expectation that I might be able to get more than one season out of it.  Folks sell these tarps on craigslist, suggesting them for hoop house covers, hay covers, wood pile covers, etc.  That suggests possibly some can last more than just the six months I've gotten out of each piece of the one I've cut up for my garden.  Any experience?