How to Use Ground Cover

Transitions between seasons can be a challenge for gardeners who aren’t prepared for a late cold snap or an early heat wave, for example.

But fortunately, ground cover fabrics and high tunnels make it easier to manage these changes, as well as offer other benefits.

Ground covers and high tunnels can easily be used to extend growing conditions for warm or cool season crops.

If you need more time for warm season crops, heavy weight row covers designed to trap heat will protect plants, but be aware of how you use them.

For example, short-term protection may simply require you to loosely cover plants (so they have room to grow) and secure the perimeter of the fabric using anchors, such as staples, soil or rock.

But if long-term protection is needed, a supported structure is recommended. This will allow for optimal air flow and room for your plants to thrive. In this case, pull the cover tautly over the hoops to keep fabric secure. That will also help reduce damage that can potentially be caused by unsupported fabric blowing in the wind.

When using ground covers and high tunnels, check in on your plants often to ensure they aren’t overheating. If you see signs of wilting, leaf damage or blossom drop, remove the covering or open the ends to help regulate the microenvironment you’ve created.

Some plants require insect pollination, so that may be another reason to temporarily lift or completely remove the covering to allow nature to do its work. Hand-pollination is an option, but can be time-consuming.

Lighter weight fabric can be used to protect your plants from insects until they are ready for harvest. But the use of such garden fabrics will require monitoring as well. If insects or their eggs become trapped inside, the cover can provide an environment for them to spread and concentrate damage to plants underneath.

Inspect the leaves of plants for any signs of insect activity. If insects are present, treat the plants with pesticide or remove infected ones. It’s recommended to also replace your covers. When used properly, garden fabrics can break insect life cycles and prevent infestations.

Row covers are available in multiple widths, lengths and thicknesses to suit a variety of needs. Many last one to two seasons depending on how often they are used. They can last longer if their edges are properly secured.

To help extend their life, store them when dry up away from the ground. This will also discourage rodents from making nests in them.

When stored, take a little extra time to make notes about each piece of cover that includes lengths, widths and other details, such as their condition or level of wear. Before discarding well-used covers, consider repurposing them as weed barriers or to protect newly seeded lawns from erosion.

Whatever your reason for using ground cover, we can help! Contact us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com so we can assist you with your order.