How to make a natural support for your herbaceous perennials … A great little weekend project that took just over an hour to make.
Now that the herbaceous borders are starting to grow they’re going to need supporting. Every year I stick a few old bamboo canes in and tie them up in with string … and every year my Lupins either snap, or end up being blown over by the wind.
Well this year I’ve come up with something a tad more substantial that will look completely natural and will do a great job of supporting the plants. It may look a bit rough now but the plants will soon grow through and it won’t look quite so obvious … but I think it looks more natural than the shop bought ones, and I’m recycling.
I’ve made mine from hazel stems that we coppiced from our hedge at the end of last year. If you can’t get hold of hazel sticks then bamboo works just as well.
It requires virtually no DIY skills, other than drilling a few holes and fixing a few screws … and when you’re finished you can say you made it all yourself!
You’re going to need the following:
- Nine (9) lengths of hazel … preferably as straight as possible
- An electric drill and a thin drill bit.
- About a dozen screws long enough to go through one hazel stick and about half way into the other. Just make sure the screws are not too thick or you’ll likely end up splitting the wood .. the thinner the better.
- A screwdriver and tape measure.
Basically we’re going to make a grid out of the pieces of hazel and fix them to three uprights, a bit like a three legged stool.
There is no set size for the support as it depends how big the plant is … mine are approximately 18 inches long and about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick. The hazel needs to be reasonably fresh as it’s more pliable and less prone to split.
Begin by cutting the 6 pieces of hazel for the the top and three slightly thicker pieces for the uprights. Although I provide sizes you can adjust the sizes to suit your need … I’m using mine for my Lupins.
Take the hazel sticks and lay them out on the ground in the grid pattern of your choice.
You can lay them out in any configuration you like, but the man thing is to leave enough space in between the hazel for the plants to grow through … minimum six inches should do it.
Next, drill a hole through the top piece taking care not to drill into the piece beneath, just touch the drill bit and the screw will do the rest.
Fix the top piece to the bottom making sure you position the screw as near to the middle of the piece underneath at the thickest point. Repeat the process on all the cross pieces and you should end up with a neat (although slightly wonky looking) natural grid pattern.
Next you’re going to need 3 supports much like the 3 legs on a stool. Also you’re going to need a slightly more substantial piece of hazel for the supports, not because it’s heavy or anything, but you’re going to need to drive it into the ground and you don’t want the ends to split.
You can use more uprights, but I tend to use odd numbers for this sort of thing … don’t ask me why, I just find using odd numbers in the garden looks more natural. I adopt the same principle when I’m planting out.
Decide the height of your support and cut all the uprights to this size. A hefty pair of loppers come in handy.
The supports in the prototype are roughly 18 inches long … remembering about 6″ will be in the ground.
I used a small chopping axe to chop one end of the upright to a point … makes it much easier to drive the upright into the ground … then cut a small step (rebate) out at the opposite end of the upright on which the top will sit.
Next position the uprights around the plant you want to support and push them in at least six inches. Position the top onto the supports and check for level. You may need to twist the uprights so the rebate is at the right angle for the top … and you may have to adjust the depth of the uprights to get the whole thing level … it’s worth taking a bit of time over this part to get everything nice and level, or it will annoy you every time you walk past it.
I appreciate we’re very lucky to have access to the natural resources around us … but if you can’t get your hands on any hazel you can always make it out of bamboo … just use string instead of screws.
A great little weekend project that took just over an hour to make.
As with all the projects in our garden making this little herbaceous support was a lot of fun and cost virtually nothing to make. Yes it will probably only last a season, but next year I can do it all over again!
Now it’s your turn .. get out there this weekend and make your very own patented 100% recycled herbaceous support!
Now all we need are 10 more like it … better get cracking!
Enjoy your bank holiday weekend.
Very best wishes,