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Find the Right Floating Row Cover for Your Garden

By on March 26, 2011

Tricia protects transplanted seedlings with some Agribon row cover.

Row covers solve a multitude of gardening problems.

Made of lightweight fabric, they allow sunlight, air, and water to pass through to your plants.

Well known as “season extenders” to keep plants warm, row covers can also protect plants from insects, and even from too-strong sun in the summertime.

In our video about frost protection and direct seed sowing and our video on Planting Vegetables, Tricia uses Agribon row covers for warmth on newly planted seeds and transplants.

Floating row covers come in a range of weights and last for many seasons. From warmest to coolest, let’s see which one suits your needs.

You Choose Based on Your Plants’ Needs

For a cold snap
Gardeners often think of row covers and frost blankets when the weather report warns of a cold snap. That’s the time to use our heavy row covers. Agribon AG-50 row covers and AG-50 frost blankets (1.5 oz. per square yard) let in 50% of the light and give from 6-8°° F of frost protection (down to 24° F). The Agribon AG-70 is the heaviest row cover, providing 8+°F of frost protection.

Keeping you safe at 26 degrees
If the cold won’t drop below 26° F, take advantage of AG-30 row covers. At 0.9 oz. per square yard they give warmth to your plants and transmit 70% of the sunlight. The balancing act is more sunlight, slightly less warmth.

It’s a bug’s life
You’re not the only one cruising around in your garden. Those critters with six legs are also keen on a garden tour. Did you ever think of row covers as insect control? They work!

The fabric is a shield against flying insects like thrips, aphids, and beetles. Our most popular weight (.55 oz. per square yard) in row covers is the Agribon AG-19. It gives some frost protection (down to 28° F), transmits 85% of the sunlight, and functions as a pest barrier too.

The University of California Integrated Pest Management program suggests placing row covers over seedlings so that insects cannot lay eggs on them.

No frost trouble, but please bug off
Frost not an issue for you? If you want maximum light transmission (90%) and no added warmth, choose AG-15. Leave this lightweight (.45 oz per square yard) fabric on all growing season.

Hoop It Up

Floating row covers got their name from being light enough to lie on top of plants without damaging them. Farmers and gardeners also use them with hoops as a rigid framework to hold up the row covers. This can provide snow protection for plants too. We have all the fittings and clamps you need to build hoops and snap the row covers down at the base of the hoops.

How did you ever garden or farm without these marvelous row covers? Protect your plants now!

  Comments (16)

C

Thanks for the timely tip. Last rain/snow for a while is tomorrow and these two disabled SIT DOWN gardeners are most appreciative of this topic. Will be by to pick up proper cover as soon as I have entered my order.

Posted by Curtis Walker on Mar. 26, 2011 at 7:38:56 PM

Curtis, So glad it was helpful!

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Dec. 14, 2011 at 9:24:11 AM

M

How do the row covers hold up to HIGH winds?  I live in northern AZ, with tremendous winds thru the spring.

Thanks!

Posted by Mari Rubens on Apr. 13, 2012 at 10:39:55 PM

J

thank you for this article.  I had no idea there were so many types of Agribon!  I’ll order some during your amazing THANKSGIVING sale….

Posted by jEtana on Nov. 21, 2012 at 7:55:51 AM

jEtana, What would we do without Agribon? SO many uses grin

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Nov. 21, 2012 at 8:58:38 AM

T

I’d like a multi-use cover to use in winter to protect down to hi 20’s but also one that I can use in spring for our bad winds.  Could I get lucky and find one that would also protect from harsh summer heat/sun??

Posted by Treva Valentine on Jan. 18, 2013 at 6:07:50 PM

Treva, Compare your coldest winter temperatures to the temperatures given above for the various weights of row covers. If you will not dip below 28F you could go with the popular AG-19 weight, which would serve all the functions you have in mind. If you more protection from the cold, correlate your coldest temperature with the protection offered by the heavier grades of row cover.

Summer needs quite different from winter needs? You could have a summer weight row cover for the warm season—using it only part of the year should make it last even longer.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jan. 27, 2013 at 10:42:17 PM

Mari Rubens, In HIGH winds it will be difficult to keep them on the frames unless they are attached well. The ends and edges along the soil would need to be anchored well to the soil with our clip-its and ground anchors or weighed down with stones/lumber or something similar. If the wind can get under it it will pull it off the frame or tear it.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:55:30 AM

K

I live in the Seattle area where moisture is high, temps are moderate (40’s), and days are short until May/June.  Is there a row cover that works best to increase temperature? We don’t get into consistent 70+ degree weather until July.  Just discovered your site and I’m loving it! Thank you for all of your great tips!

Posted by Kelly on Feb. 03, 2013 at 12:19:58 PM

Welcome Kelly! The higher the number on Agribon, the more warmth for your plants—but the less light. Try the AG-19 which is our most popular “in between” row cover. Agribon-30 is a good weight to use for increased warmth, Agribon-50 is even heavier, but it does cut down on the light.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Feb. 03, 2013 at 2:21:39 PM

K

Under what circumstances would you recommend using a clear plastic covering on the hoop houses? we live in Colorado, get plenty of sunshine, but it’s cold! Thanks!!

Posted by Kristin on Nov. 08, 2013 at 12:16:15 PM

Kristin, For an added boost to rowcovers you can add plastic as well. Be careful because it can cook your plants if it is warmer and sunny during the day. Another thing you can do is add large, c-7 or c-9, Christmas lights under your hoops. This was successful in studies by Colorado State.

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Dec. 20, 2013 at 8:54:56 AM

S

Will melted snow pass through agribon-50? If not, then you will need to water to water the plants or bulbs underneath it during the winter months. And it may be difficult to open the cover if the edges are all frozen for long periods of time. What should you do?

Posted by Sylvia on Jan. 16, 2015 at 7:23:45 AM

C

I just purchased some rather thick floating row cover, called crop cover.  Will it work to shade my trees from the hot sun?  (redbud, dappled willow, smoke tree)?  The nursery quit selling shade cover.
Thank you.

Posted by Cheryl Gavette on May. 31, 2016 at 7:20:09 PM

T

Floating row covers looks good and interesting but my only concern is how do you get the predatory or friendly insects to get inside the cover.. Is it available in the Philippine market?

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon,
Tony

Posted by Tony Tolentino on Sep. 01, 2016 at 9:11:41 PM

S

Tony, to allow the good bugs to get in you will need to pull it back. We do not ship internationally.

Posted by Suzanne on Sep. 13, 2016 at 12:22:27 PM

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