Plant Protection Cover

A Plant Protection Cover is a type of greenhouse-like structure that provides complete coverage to plants from the elements. Using this method, plants can be grown year-round in colder climates.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how to build a Plant Protection Cover for your garden and why you may want to consider it as an option for growing crops outdoors during the winter months!

A Plant Protection Cover is a greenhouse-type of structure open to the elements. It covers all sides of your plants, usually on a single layer, covering plants from ground level up to the top of your garden, providing complete protection from wind and frost. This method is effective during the summer months when temperatures are moderate and temperatures are above freezing, but it holds little benefit during the winter months when nighttime temperatures fall below freezing and lower temperatures during the day cannot be sustained by artificial heating.

The 7 Best Plant Covers To Protect Your Plants - Minneopa Orchards

What is the best thing to cover plants with?

This depends on your situation, but the two materials most people turn to are tarps and plastic sheeting.

Tarps & Plastic Sheeting

Tarps are very lightweight and easy to handle. They are often sold with grommets, which allow you to tie the tarp directly to your plants, usually just a few feet above ground level. As such, they can be left on your garden for an entire growing season and can protect against almost all kinds of weather depending on their weight, thickness, and coverage area.

Plastic sheeting is much heavier than tarps and is normally sold in rolls of 100-200 square feet. They are just as durable as tarps but much more difficult to handle for covering plants when multiple layers of plastic are needed. Additionally, plastic sheeting is not normally recommended for covering plants as it provides little to no protection from air circulation, which can be a big challenge in the hot summer months.

Plant Protection Cover Materials

There are two primary materials used in building a plant protection cover: plastic sheeting and tarps. Plastic sheeting may also be referred to as plastic tarp or greenhouse film . It comes in many different sizes and flexible widths, depending on the specialized needs of your garden(s). Tarps also come in many different sizes and flexibility, but there are typically additional costs associated with tarps as they are heavier and more difficult to handle.

What is the best material for a plant protection cover?

There is no single best material for a plant protection cover, as it will depend on the environment that it will be used in and the climate conditions. In general, plastic sheeting will work better in hot summer climates, while tarps seem to work better in cooler winter climates.

Plastic sheeting is lighter and more flexible, which makes it easier to handle when installing it. It can be stretched with ease and handled by one person, whereas tarps will require additional labour and tools to stretch across the land. Additionally, plastic sheeting provides better protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays than either tarps or woven shade cloth .

Plastic sheeting comes in many different sizes, colours, and thicknesses. It is lightweight, which makes it easier to handle when installing. It can be stretched with ease and handled by one person, whereas tarps will require additional labour and tools to stretch across the land.

What is the best covering for plants in the winter?

The issue with a crop protection cover is that it will provide complete weather protection for your plants, but it does not do anything to protect your plants from the cold. If you live in a climate where temperatures regularly fall below freezing during the winter months, a regular plastic sheeting or tarps are not sufficient for keeping your plants alive and healthy.

If you want to learn about how to grow your garden during the winter months and want to ensure that all of your plants thrive through the winter, be sure to check out Winter Garden in a Box with Companion Planting.

Reasons to cover your plants

  1. Protect your plants from the elements: The primary benefit of using a plant protection cover is to protect your plants from the elements. Both plastic sheeting and tarps can be used to protect your plants in a variety of ways. Here’s a few examples: 
  • Covering Plants Above Ground: One common way that people use these materials is as a light weight, temporary tarp or plastic sheeting that can be placed directly on top of your plants. This method is useful if your plants need to be exposed to the cold, but also need minimal protection from direct sun.
  • Covering Plants Below Ground: Many people will use a plastic sheeting or tarps as a permanent covering directly on the surface of the ground. In this case, it can cover any area of your garden that may get completely sodden during the winter months. This method is a good way to protect plants from soil diseases caused by too much water.
  1. Hold in Heat: One of the most common reasons that people use tarps and plastic sheets is to trap heat in the garden. This is an effective way to keep frost away and maintain a warmer environment for your plants. For getting started with growing during the winter months, check out our post where we talk about tips for starting seeds indoors!
  2. Propagation: Covering plants with a tarp or plastic sheeting is a great way to help keep your propagation efforts warm and consistent. You can use this method to protect large beds and give your seedlings optimal protection from mother nature’s elements.
  3. Stopping Diseases: There are many different diseases that can ruin a crop, but one of the most common ones is dampening off . This causes the soil to become saturated with water, which kills hundreds of thousands of plants every year. When planting in the spring, be sure to cover your warm season crops with a tarp or plastic sheeting. This will act as an added barrier between the soil and light, keeping your plants safe from damping off.

How much to cover with a tarp or plastic sheeting?

There is no exact answer to how much to cover with a tarp or plastic sheeting, but it depends on many different factors including the climate that you live in, your soil conditions and your plants’ needs. Here are a few general guidelines that you can use as a base:

Start small and gradually increase the length of coverage. For example, if your garden is 4’x8′, you could cover it completely with a single layer of plastic sheeting. If you decide to upgrade to two layers, put the first layer directly on top of the soil and then place the second layer directly on top of the first. This will help protect your soil from debris and help maintain moisture in your soil throughout winter.

Plant Covers for Winter | HGTV

Benefit of covering plants

  1. Stops Disease: One of the biggest reasons that people use tarps and plastic sheets is to prevent plants from being in contact with disease. For example, if you’re growing tomatoes, then you don’t want your plants to come into contact with fusarium wilt. A tarp or plastic sheeting can act as a physical barrier between your plants and the humidity in the air and soil that causes this disease.
  2. Reduces Competition: When you start covering plants, you’ll notice that they are less affected by the weeds and grasses around them. This can significantly reduce competition for your plants and allow them to grow faster and more healthy.
  3. Prevents Waterlogging: One of the most common reasons that we see people use plant protection covers is to stop soil from being waterlogged during the winter months. When the ground around the roots becomes waterlogged, it causes the roots to wither and die. This makes plants much more vulnerable to disease. By tarping your garden, you can ensure that the soil is not saturated with water and will act as a barrier between the roots of your plants.
  4. Protects from Heat: Winter gardener’s tend to have a difficult time keeping their plants healthy during cold temperatures.


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