A DIY potting tarp to make indoor gardening mess-free

Bonus: It also makes the perfect gift to give!

By Kristin Guy

Published May 14, 2022 4:29PM (EDT)

 (Kristin Guy / Food52)
(Kristin Guy / Food52)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

Can You Dig It is a new monthly series by Kristin Guy in which a real-life garden DIY is tackled with real style. Whether you've got an expansive outdoor plot or just a few houseplants, Kristin will inspire you to grow even more with easy-to-tackle projects and horticultural know-how.

Spring is here, and with it the anticipation of more plant projects both indoors and out. With daylight lingering longer, no matter where you live, it's hard to want to stay indoors any longer than you need to. Right now I'm harvesting the remainder of my winter greens and tinkering with them in the kitchen, starting seeds, and focusing on the new delicious season ahead (I see you, tomatoes!). I guess you could say for most gardeners it's go time — aka, the most exciting (and busiest) time of the year.

But before things get too hectic, it's important to pause, plan, organize . . . even dabble in a few fun creative projects. While designing and building your own vegetable plot or apartment garden can challenge you artistically, I find it just as much fun to get creative with tools and accessories to use towards those goals — DIY garden gear, if you will.

Whether you're repotting indoor plants or transplanting seedlings on the patio this week, an easy-to-store (and, more importantly, easy to make) potting tarp is a particularly fun DIY for you to try — and will help keep your indoor or outdoor workspace tidy. With just a few simple tools and a whole lot of color and material options to customize, this is also the perfect gift to make for anyone in your plant loving posse (or yourself).

If there's one thing we've learned over the last two years, it's that growing and nurturing something green (be it a herb bed or a propagated Peperomia) has really lifted a lot of people's spirits, and this DIY is the perfect way to further cultivate that positivity. Now let's get growing!

How to make a DIY potting tarp

All the tools you'll need.
All the tools you'll need. (Photo by Kristin Guy)

Makes: A 24" x 34" medium-sized potting tarp 

You'll need
- 1/2 yard waterproof canvas or heavy duty outdoor fabric 
(Material swap: You can also use waxed canvas, vinyl or leather; the thicker weight and structure to the fabric the better) 
- 16-17 inch belting/strapping material 
(Material swap: Jute rope, waterproof ribbon — anything that is durable and ties easily) 
Snap Plier Kit & 5 Heavy Duty Snap Fasteners (5/8-Inch) 
(Material swap: Sew on buttons, use no-sew velcro — anything that will create a substantial closure for your four corners) 
- Scissors 
- Measuring tape 
X-Acto knife 
- Nylon or heavy duty thread (optional
Fabric Pins (optional
- Sewing machine or sewing needle (optional)

Directions: 
1) Cut fabric of choice into a 24-inch x 36-inch rectangle 

2) If you'd like to have a tidy hem, fold fabric over 1/4 inch and secure it with fabric pins. Using a sewing machine, sew along the edges, or hand-stitch with needle and thread, to avoid the edges fraying. 

Note: This step is optional, and a design choice. Depending on the type of fabric used no hem may be needed at all ie: leather, vinyl and most heavy duty coated canvas. 

3) Using a snap plier kit and 5/8-inch snap fasteners, apply one snap in each of the four corners with snapping parts facing inwards. Make holes for each of the two snap parts 4 inches from the corner and 2 inches from seams.


(Photo by Kristin Guy)

(Photo by Kristin Guy)

4) Follow the instructions of your particular snap plier kit to cut holes and insert snap, cap, and socket. You may need an X-Acto knife to assist in making the holes due to fabric weight. Snaps should clasp together on the inside of your tarp creating an upright edge when all four corners are fully fastened.


(Photo by Kristin Guy)

(Photo by Kristin Guy)

5) For easy storage, sew on a small belt with additional snap closure. Simply fold your tarp into quarters, wrap belt around it, pinning one snap side down and hand- or machine-sew in place. Apply snap closure where the belt overlaps. 

6) Your tarp is ready for action! After use, simply shake off any soil and wipe clean with a damp cloth if needed before rolling up and storing.


(Photo by Kristin Guy)

Kristin Guy

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