16 Clever Ways To Repurpose Tarps Around Your Home And Garden

While they might seem like a relatively forgettable and basic item at first glance, tarps have a massive variety of uses and come in a wide array of different materials and styles. These large pieces of fabric can be used to protect surfaces from the elements, keep spaces clean during renovations, provide shelter when camping, or even transport materials from place to place. If you have some tarps at home that seem like their main purpose is collecting dust in the garage,  why not give them a new life elsewhere in your space?

Because they're already so useful as-is, it's no surprise that there are plenty of different ways to upcycle your old tarps into new functional items, whether that means using them to protect your outdoor items from the weather or as a unique, decorative art piece in your home. They're typically waterproof or water-resistant, so they can withstand the elements. They're also fairly large, so you have plenty of material to work with, and they're super common, so it's likely that you already have one or two lying around at home. All of these characteristics make them the perfect starting point for a project, so it's time to whip out the scissors and get crafty with these creative tarp repurposing ideas that offer spaces for playing, practicing, and relaxing.

1. Outdoor lounge space cover

Outdoor spaces, whether you have a tiny patio or a massive backyard, can bring some serious value to your home and give you a space to comfortably relax and soak up the sun. When the weather gets more extreme, however, your outdoor experience and furniture can suffer as a result. To prevent this, consider building this simple tarp cover. The basic sloped roof design will help protect your pieces from rain or snow, but it can also be extended out when you're sitting outside to provide some shade on sunny days.

2. Curtains

There are plenty of different kinds of tarps out there, but if you happen upon a canvas option that's still in fairly good shape, consider turning it into a curtain with the addition of some grommets or loops along the top. These tarps often have unique markings, interesting seams, and even signs of wear that can make for an unexpected addition to your space. While using an old fabric tarp as a curtain might not be everyone's cup of tea, this idea is great for those who are a fan of more vintage-inspired, rustic, or industrial décor.

3. Garden bed lining

If you're making your own DIY raised garden beds, it's likely that you'll need to include something as a barrier to help keep all of your soil in place, lower the risk of weeds taking over, and prevent the deterioration of the bed itself. One of the easiest ways to do this is by lining your beds with a tarp. Measure out the size of your beds, then cut down your tarp into appropriately sized pieces. Lay them down in your raised beds before you fill them with soil, and you'll be ready to start planting.

4. Grill cover

If your grill didn't come with a cover but you still want to protect it from the elements, consider DIYing your own out of a tarp and some duct tape. This project is fairly simple and can be pulled off in an afternoon, so it's great if you need to whip up something quick before a storm rolls in. Cut out five pieces from your tarp that are slightly larger than the dimensions of your grill — two front pieces, two back pieces, and one top piece — then secure them together along the seams to create a cube-shaped cover.

5. Outdoor pillow

Adding pillows to your outdoor furniture is a great way to cozy up the space, but typical throw pillows are not meant to withstand the elements. For something that's still comfortable but a bit more heavy-duty, consider making your own out of a tarp. This project does require some sewing, but it's incredibly beginner-friendly. Cut out two pieces of your tarp that are the same size, face them towards each other, and sew along three sides. Flip it right side out, fill your pillow with stuffing, and close up the last side to finish everything off.

6. Tote bag

Tarps are essentially just large pieces of durable fabric, so plenty of different sewing projects can be completed with a tarp as the material. One of the easiest and most functional is a tote bag. All you need to do is cut out two pieces of the tarp, sew around three edges, and leave it open at the top, similar to a pillow. Cut out some strips of material for the handle, sew them on, and you're left with a handy bag you can use to carry anything from books to groceries.

7. Repotting station

Repotting plants is often a messy process, so it can be beneficial to lay something down to cover your surface and make cleanup easier if you're working indoors. A tarp is an easy pick for this job, but if you want to make things even more convenient, fold up the material along the corners to create a kind of wall around the tarp. This way, you'll have an extra barrier of protection to help guarantee that dirt doesn't end up on the floor while you're working, and you can easily dump out excess dirt when you're done.

8. Backyard slip-and-slide

It can be hard to keep kids entertained during the summer, but creating a fun afternoon doesn't have to be expensive. If you have a hose, a plastic tarp, and some dish soap, you can create your very own backyard slip-and-slide. Lay down the tarp on a soft surface like grass, attaching multiple together if you want to create a longer path, then completely saturate it with water. Drizzle on a bit of dish soap for extra slickness, then keep the hose running and have your kids slide around to their hearts' content.

9. Wall art

As the name might suggest, canvas tarps and canvases intended for painting are made of very similar materials. To make your own wall art, build a basic rectangle shape the size of your desired canvas, then stretch the material over the frame and staple it down so it's taught. Finish it off by trimming down and stapling any excess fabric to create a more seamless look. From there, you can leave it as-is if it already has some interesting textures and patterns, or you can go in with some paint and get creative with your own design.

10. Hammock

If you're in the mood to lounge in a hammock, why not try your hand at making your own out of a tarp? Most tarps have grommets along the edges to allow you to more easily secure them down to surfaces, so you can use these holes as a place to attach a hook and hang your material on a tree or sturdy railing. This hack is certainly doable with a plastic tarp, especially if you need to make something in a pinch when you're out camping, but fabric options are likely your best bet for comfort.

11. Car awning

Trying out car camping is a great way to dip your toes into exploring the great outdoors without sacrificing all of your modern conveniences. If you're just looking to try it out for a weekend, it pays to repurpose and DIY items. Pack a tarp for your trip along with a few stakes, then attach the tarp to the top of your car and prop up the other side with the stakes to make a small shelter. This little area will give you some room to relax while you're still protected from the weather.

12. Play tent

We get it — camping isn't everyone's cup of tea, but that doesn't mean you can't create your own fun indoors. With the help of a few wooden dowels, some rope, and a tarp, you can build a cozy play tent that's the perfect place to kick back with a book or game. While this tent likely won't help you out all that much if you're out camping, it's a great idea to bring it out at a sleepover or incorporate it into a kids' playroom as a more sturdy alternative to a pillow fort.

13. Projector screen

Creating a backyard movie theater is surprisingly easy and can help turn a typical night spent sitting on the couch into something that feels like a special event. If you don't have a light-colored wall to face your projector towards, however, you're going to need to find something to use as a screen so you can more clearly see what's playing on the projector. A plain white sheet can work in a pinch, but a white or light-colored tarp is a much more durable option that you can leave outdoors without worrying about deterioration. 

14. Backyard driving range

Golfing is, unfortunately, one of those sports that's difficult to practice at home, but with this simple idea, you can create your own miniature driving range. All you need to do is set up a tarp in your backyard to act as a barrier and help catch balls that would've otherwise flown straight over the fence. Of course, this does still require a bit of aim — you don't want a rouge ball to go flying through the neighbor's window — but it can still allow you to practice your drives if you don't have access to a course.

15. Splash pad

House Digest loves a good pool noodle hack, and this splash pad is the perfect example of why. Lay out four pool noodles in a square shape, cover the surface with a tarp, and fill the center with water. The pool noodles will act as a small wall to keep the water in, creating a splash pad that's only a few inches deep. With something like this, you can enjoy a refreshing summer activity without worrying about the potential hazards of going to the pool, especially if you have younger kids.

16. Car cover

With this handy hack to take care of snow and ice, you don't have to worry about the annoyance of defrosting your windshield or wiping snow off of your car after a cold front blows through. Before it's set to start snowing, head outside and toss a tarp over your car, then secure the corners to your rims or grill with some bungee cords or rope if you're worried about the cover blowing away. Remove it when you need to drive, and you'll be left with a perfectly clean car in just a couple of seconds.