Weeds in black plastic tarp/cover

Hi everyone,

We inherited some black plastic garden tarps (the kind that everyone uses for garden cover/weed killing) but they have been sitting dormant for a while. When we pulled them up, we uncovered roots (not sure from what) clearly looking for some sun, and a bunch of old roots snagged up in the plastic. I would love to reuse the tarp on our garden, but I’m concerned about introducing weeds into the garden. Any thoughts?


Hi Lila!

Interesting conundrum. It could be roots from trees or shrubs that are nearby, particularly if they are woody. A problem we have is horsetail, and if you have horsetail it could be that. These roots are quite delicate and break easily, but they do survive for years under tarps. Quack grass is another possibility, though I think you would be able to tell if it was that.

If in doubt about transferring weeds, best to err on the side of caution and get new plastic.

Thanks Gordon,

I’ve attached 2 photos of the main concerns. The small roots could be just about anything – the big ones might be more easily identified.


The roots do not look like horsetail, and that is good news! And I see why you want to try and salvage the plastic. Getting the old roots off will be a lot of work picking or scrubbing them off, and I do not know of any other way to clean them off.

Good Luck!