Where to buy tarps?


I just bought land and would like to use tarps to kill some weeds. I have no idea where to find these and if there’s a particular kind I should be looking for. Any suggestions?

I cut the weeds so there is at least green stuff growing all the time which helps the soil. I use a sickle mower pulled by horses.

I hear a lot of people are using black silage plastic. Generally you can get some good sized chunks for free from a local dairy farm.

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Wow, that is good advice! Thank you!

I never had much luck finding chunks for free, but mostly because there were so few dairy or cattle farms around my place. I ended up buying mine from Dubois in Simcoe, but you can also get them through your local farm supply store. However, they can be quite pricey so shop around.

Another little note is that thicker is more durable (think 8 mil), but that also makes them heavier.

I read a paper a few years back that compared silage tarps (occultation) with clear tarps (solarization) and the latter came out on top in terms of weed control, so that’s also something to look into. I believe clear plastic (essentially greenhouse covering) is also cheaper than silage tarp, but don’t quote me on that.

I second Dubois: http://www.duboisag.com/en/mulch-film-plasticulture.html

We got a bunch of black tarps from them and they worked really well. Chopping the weeds down a bit before covering them is a good idea.

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From personal experience, I’d just be careful with some of the tougher weeds that tend to lignify as they can punch holes in the tarp. Make sure you cover them weeds when they are young and tender. Doing that will also kill them in less time than more mature weeds. I believe we used 8-mil tarp.

Oh and tarping doesn’t work so well on perennial weeds. In which case solarizing is probably a better option.

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@dheraud: I second that as well: we had the same experience. I wish I had known about that prior to starting. I had some tougher weeds lignify and poke through the tarps. :cry:

I’m going to try the solarization next year since we have some tough perennial weeds (i.e. bindweed). We have a bunch of left-over hoop-house plastic film, so I’ll see if that works.

I don’t know if this goes without saying but waiting until just after a rain is the best time to tarp/solarize. You want it to be nice and moist under there. That also ensures that anything that has lignified will be softer and easier to bend and faster to biodegrade.

Alternatively, you can poke some holes here and there in the tarp to let water pass through, which also helps with the weight when trying to move it because these get real hard to move with puddles of water on them. However, that will undoubtedly let some light in and you’ll have weeds growing through in those spots.

Also, we had 30m/100ft beds. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have made 30m\100ft lengths of tarp to cover them as they are too hard to drag on your own and it’s also hard to “cut” a corner with a tarp that long. So in hindsight, I would have cut two pieces of 15m/50ft so that I could pull each of these out of the beds from their respective ends easily.

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Thanks everyone for all the advice. We ended up purchasing a huge black silage tarp from the local farm store because we felt sort of rushed and it was all they had. It was great having all the advice to work with! Being a total newbie nothing goes without saying :slight_smile:

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Mow the weeds to prevent them going to seed. Then plow in the fall, let the roots freeze over winter. cultivate as normal in the spring. Plant late as you can allowing for several cultivator passes every week or two to kill emergent weeds and helps deplete the seed bank of the weed seeds. Plant fall rye as its roots are phytotoxic to weeds and even whatever you plant, so leave about 6 inch spacing between fall rye and your veggie seeds. Won’t eliminate weeds entirely but keeps them minimal. Also then mow the weeds or whack them with a shovel or weed whaker before they go to seed. Weeds themselves make a good cheap cover crop if managed properly.

To be honest, I think that if I had to put so much physical work on my soil (which is detrimental to its structure), I would just as well throw a tarp on top and not work it at all! I’ve used this technique in the past and it’s a much better way to conserve soil structure and biodiversity.