It takes just one or two heartbreaking losses to galvanise most gardeners into action to protect their plants. By using native materials and traditional methods you can make plant supports that not only protect your plants but also add a great deal of character to your garden.


How to make plant supports and protection using natural materials

Plant supports for climbers

Plant climbers including wisteria that are to be grown up the side of a building about 50cm away from the wall, so that they are not in the dry area under the eaves of the roof. Use bamboo canes to support new shoots and to guide them into the area you want to cover. Horizontal stems produce more flowers and fruit than vertical ones, so begin to tie stems along horizontal wires, across trellis or along the cross bars of a pergola as soon as they reach them. On walls and trellis, allow further stems to grow taller before turning them horizontally and tying them in.

If you'd rather buy climbing plant supports, we have a list for that too.

Looking for how to make peony supports?

Make a bean pole plant support

Even with a humble bean pole structure you can build something that suits the style of your garden. It will be visible for a good proportion of its life, until the growth of the beans takes over, so ask yourself what kind of structure you would prefer – a neat affair with finer hazel rods and intricately woven willow, or a wilder looking structure, with twisted poles and protruding ends? Here we selected long, straight, hazel bean poles to produce a simple, repetitive and geometric structure.

  • To bind two diagonally or perpendicular crossing hazel poles together use a short slim withy about 60cm in length.
  • Place the thick, butt end of the withy against one pole and wind its length tightly around the junction of poles a couple of times to securely trap this end.
  • Continue winding in a figure of eight motion to form a cross.
Bean pole support step 1
Plant support
© Jason Ingram
  • Finish up by threading the tip through the back of the woven cross and pulling firmly to tighten and ‘lock’ the tie.
  • A simple pairing weave of two hazel rods can be used to add horizontal support to the upright bean poles and will need multiple spiral ties along their lengths to keep them in place.
  • These withy ties are started in the same way, then just wrapped around and around the joint, before threading the tip back through the tie and pulling to tighten as before.
Plant support
© Jason Ingram
Plant support
© Jason Ingram

Make a willow cloche

A woven, bell-shaped willow cloche will protect small plants and seedlings from hens and pigeons, as well as provide some shade and shelter from adverse weather. You’ll need some basic basket-making skills to learn how to make a cloche like this (find details of courses below and at, but once you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you’ll be able to create numerous cloches in various sizes. They look particularly striking when used en masse. Make them early in the year to ensure you have them to hand when you plant out small seedlings, such as lettuces.

Willow cloche plant support

Willow wreaths for your pumpkins

Later in the year, harvested pumpkins and squashes will last far longer if you allow their skins to harden in the sun before storing. Perching your pumpkin on willow wreaths will reduce the risk of rotting caused by trapped water. You can make the wreaths by twisting together several lengths of pliable willow to form a compact circle.

Natural support for pumpkins

Make a twiggy cage for protection from birds

A twiggy cage is an attractive way to protect crops, such as young brassicas, from marauding pigeons while still allowing free movement of air. It’s made by pushing supple, twiggy branches of hazel or birch directly into the ground, then gently pulling the tops inwards and threading them under and over each other to form a natural-looking canopy.

A twiggy cage

Make an insulating cloche

You can also put your bell-shaped cloches to good use later in the year by stuffing them with straw or leaves. This will offer some protection from freezing conditions and winter wet. Perfect for protecting crowns of plants, such as globe artichokes, or dahlia tubers you’ve left in the ground.

Bell shaped cloche
Plant supports: Bell shaped cloche

Learn how to make plant supports

  • Wild Wicker
    Upton Bishop, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 7QP. Tel 07866 138436,,
    Clyde Hoare runs courses in basket making, hurdles and living willow structures.
  • Judy Hartley
    Judy makes baskets and teaches basket making in Monmouthshire. Judy also made the beautiful woven willow cloches (pictured above).

Suppliers of tools for making plant supports


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