Tarps are some of the most useful items on the new homestead. They help you manage livestock, weeds, wind, and a host of other issues that come with living off of the land. Tarps can be used and repurposed many times, and they’re relatively lightweight, depending on the strength of the tarp material you choose.
Every homesteader should make use of short-term solutions including tarps to get a head start on projects. Tarps offer you the flexibility you need to accomplish your goals. A few tips on choosing good homesteading tarps follow, along with some ideas for using tarps to meet your needs.
Choose Your Tarps Wisely
Pick vinyl versus polyurethane (PE) as a tarp material if you want the longest-lasting tarps. PE tarps are the crinkly blue ones you see at cookouts and festivals. They don’t last long.
Vinyl tarps are much sturdier. They’re also waterproof, and they offer UV protection that PE tarps can’t match. That means they help you keep moisture and sunlight where you don’t want them.
You’ll find many uses for tarps as your homestead develops. They come in handy to meet all of your basic needs and then some. Just ask survivalists, who will give you a dozen ways to use a tarp.
Use Tarps for Shelter
Having a place to rest safely is a basic need for humans and delicate livestock during bad weather and times of temperature extremes. Tarps and rope may be effectively used to make a fast lean-to for humans, pets, or livestock. Use a tarp to cover the rafters of a barn that needs a roof until that goal is met.
Put tarps to work as covers for kennels, machinery, and building materials. Construct PVC or metal hoop houses over these areas to shelter items. Cover firewood that heats your home, but stack wood on pallets to avoid moisture buildup on logs placed under tarps.
A variety of fasteners on the market will grip tarps and attach to ropes, allowing you to anchor them to trees, stakes, or posts. You can also have grommets placed where you need them to get a taut slope over a shed or cabin porch.
Use Tarps for Food
If you want to choke out weeds in a certain area, all you need is a tarp the size of the space you want to treat. Set the tarp down and anchor it with soil, bricks, or rocks so it stays in place. Within six weeks, all of the weeds should be dead.
If you use a darker tarp, the heat generated under the tarp will also kill weed seedlings. Additionally, earthworms will enjoy the heat, and they in turn provide many benefits for your soil. Now, all you have to do is turn the soil and add amendments and you have a clear garden, orchard, or lawn area to plant.
Tarps are useful as sun-shades that hover a few feet over delicate plants. Some plants—lettuce, tomato, and squash, for example—do poorly when there’s too much afternoon sun. Lettuce may bolt and taste bitter. Cucumber plants fade away and stop producing.
Give them some shade, and they stay healthier and produce food for a longer season. Use UV-blocking tarps for producing mushrooms and giving perennials a necessary period of darkness for cultivation. Tarps also protect plants during freezes if you have a row-cover frame in place over the crops.
The same holds true for livestock. If your cow, sheep, or pig needs a spot of shade in the pen, use a UV-protected tarp to provide it. Your livestock grow and reproduce better when they’re happy and healthy. In winter months, use tarps to cover animal supplies, including round hay bales, wood shavings, and forage.
Use Tarps for Water
Collect rainwater for plants by setting them in containers or hanging tarps, so they create a funnel that spills into a bucket. You can also collect water for livestock with tarps by creating a pond with tarps or angling a tarp to feed rain water into a stock tank. A tarp in a pickup bed can collect rain water to make a decent water source or fun cool-off spot.
Tarps make great enclosures for outdoor bathing and relief areas if you haven’t got these facilities yet. Use boards and branches to create a frame to fit around the outdoor shower or toilet. Use tarps to wrap around the frame.
Cover the top of the frame with netting to act as a vent. A smaller tarp can be used to partially cover the space when it’s pouring or super cold outside. The end of the wraparound tarp is attached to a vertical stick that acts as a door opener and prop so people have privacy until a proper bathroom is built.
Order vinyl tarps from Billboard Tarps in a variety of pre-cut and custom sizes and styles. Our tarps are the sustainable, sturdy choice to help with all of your homesteading adventures.