Supports can come in a mind-boggling variety of shapes, sizes and materials, as well as a sizable price tag, depending on your selection.
In the past, I’ve been drawn to more formal structures. With this “formality” comes a price tag that is in direct conflict with my lean budget these days, so I find myself turning my eyes toward a less formal structure style. One that is still smart in design with a bit of whimsy. In the future, I’m sure I’ll invest in a few formal structures, but for now, I’m content with informal and rustic. And when the time comes, the combination of formal and informal will be the perfect blend for my cottage garden ~ that’s why I love this style so much. It’s so flexible and comfortable.
Now with that said, here are a few interesting samples of both formal and informal plant structures that I came across for your viewing pleasure…
Formal (higher cost)
Informal (lower cost)
And who says informal is simple in design…
With a few ideas of formal and informal in mind, what would you choose?
What if you have little time or energy to put together anything elaborate, formal or informal, and all you want is something quick and easy to install that’s also forgiving to your wallet? The best solution… reuse something from your home or garden.
For me, I needed a “quick something” for my two yellow pear tomato bushes that were reaching out beyond the limits of my raised bed. My simplest “go to” solution was to re-use branches that I had recently pruned off my Artic Star Nectarine tree. Let me just say, this tree is a never-ending producer of raw materials for homemade plant supports… it’s a nectarine tree gone wild. I’ve pruned this tree three times this summer and it continues to grow beyond my 7 feet high x 8 feet wide limit. Healthy tree or what!?!
Because of its propensity for fast growth, I took full advantage of the wide selection of branch sizes (and I love the color, too).
I find it very helpful to leave some of the branch crotches intact. It allows easy placement of crossing branches and helps to give it extra support when lashing it together. The arching side shoots also adds visual interest to my garden.
Typically, I would have preferred to use twine to tie the branches together but in this case, I grabbed what I had on hand (18 gauge galvanized steel wire) making this project economically fitting for my budget.
In addition to supporting my tomato plants, I used a 3 foot long sturdy branch to help support my Lemon Queen Sunflower.
In the desert, we experience quite a bit of wind on a regular basis, especially during the spring and summer months. During these times, the wind can kick up quite a ruckus and be particularly damaging to both plants and structures.
Now that summer 2013 has come and gone and this year’s monsoon season is officially behind us, I can take comfort in knowing that my basic support has held up fairly well and kept my tomato and sunflower plants neat and tidy. Despite this fact, come next January, I plan to spend more time building a few sturdier informal structures to get me through the gusty days of next spring and summer.
Interested in making your own informal supports but are lacking in the “tree department” on your property? No problem. Next time your neighbors prune their trees, ask if you can help them in exchange for a bundle or two of their “choice” discarded branches. You can also talk with a local tree pruning service or orchard. A lot of times, they are very willing to part with their branches, stumps, etc…. and usually for free or a nominal fee.
It’s been nice chatting with you. Time to head back into the garden ~ have a wonderful day.