How to Use Floating Row Covers


If you have ever had an issue in your garden with bugs or animals eating your developing produce, a floating row cover may be the solution. A floating row cover is a lightweight material placed directly over the plants. The material is translucent, allowing sun and water through but not insects or nibbling animals. The fabric can be reused for several years.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Lumber
  • Fabric anchors
  • Measure the area that you want to cover to determine how much row cover you will need. The cover, available from home and garden centers and online, typically sells in rolls 6 to 50 feet wide and lengths of 25 to almost 800 feet. Some vendors also offer different thicknesses of fabric, with the thicker fabrics designed to resist hard freezes. For the small home gardener, a width of 6 or 8 feet will probably be sufficient. If your goal is to ward off bugs, a lightweight fabric will do.

  • Drape the fabric loosely over your plants.

  • Anchor the fabric with rocks, soil, a garden hose, lumber or landscape fabric anchors. You can fashion your own anchors from scrap wire cut into 10-inch lengths and bent in half. Press the anchors through the fabric and into the ground. If you have a serious bug infestation, bury the fabric a couple of inches under the soil.

  • Remove the fabric periodically during blossom-time to allow insects to pollinate the plants. Weed growth will be low since weed seeds have also been blocked.

Tips & Warnings

  • A floating cover is also useful when there is danger of frost.
  • Place the row cover over hoops if you are growing summer squash, tomato or pepper plants under the cover; the row cover can damage these plant's tender growing points or break some of their leaves.

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