What do Black Eyed Susan, Bee Balm and Cosmos all have in common? All three are wonderful small plants that produce beautiful, vibrant flowers. But more relevant to our discussion today is the fact that all three are plants that will most likely require staking or a flower support net at some point in their lifetime, and that all three may find themselves the target of birds. There are, of course, a large number of plants that fall into the overlapping category of requiring plant stakes and bird netting, some of which are most likely in your garden right now. However, it seems to me that the process of using plant stakes and bird netting is one which lacks some much needed color and creativity that is absolutely synonymous with everything that we love about gardening. For this reason, in this article, we will look at 4 ways in which every gardener can add some color and creativity to their garden through their use of plant stakes and bird netting. These are simple, kid friendly and enjoyable ideas that will add color and character to your garden and which are suitable for both experienced gardeners, and outdoor beginners.
Decorating Bird Netting
For most gardeners, bird netting is a simple way to keep birds away from your blooming flowers and luscious fruit. Gardening is an extremely creative activity, so it is curious that bird netting, which often covers a very large area in the garden, is often left totally undecorated and colorless. Surely when we are covering our bright and radiant plants, we should at least cover it with something that is also nice and bright. Decorating bird netting is a simple way to add some color to your garden when you are forced to hide the crowning glories of your garden. Adding old ribbons, beads or bits of fabric to nylon netting looks good, but for the best results, you will like to use a hardier, durable material with a rustic look, such as hemp, which will blend in with the natural earthy textures that feature in most gardens. This type of activity is great for children under supervision, and you are free to add themes should you choose. Whilst this task can be taken in a very methodical way, I find the better way to do it is simply to let your creative juices flow, randomly adding splashes of color everywhere on the netting.
Decorating Flower Support Nets
As we discussed for bird netting, flower support nets are also wide expanses that are decidedly bare compared to their often bold and colorful surroundings. Decorating these nets is a great idea. On way to do it is through labeling. For example, affixing small drawings of foods above various fruit and vegetable plants is one easy and creative way to add some convenience and style. However, if you want maximum decorative effect, you cannot go past the use of leftover Christmas tinsel. Even if you only have small off cuts of old tinsel, you will be surprised at how young they look with sunlight reflecting off it. It is also a wonderful way to get maximum use out of things before throwing them away. You may find that decorations from other celebratory times of the year are just as effective. Old gift wrapping materials are another great way to fill in any gaps in your net, provided that you can ensure that they won’t fly away in the wind and cause pollution. Of course, these are only a few options, and the potential of your garden is only limited by your imagination.
Decorating Plant Stakes
Plant stakes are another example of a highly underutilized piece of equipment that is ripe for the additions of a bit of creativity. Because stakes are right in the middle of the plant, they are perfect for some decoration. The most obvious suggestion for plant stake decoration is to simply add some paint. You could choose to paint the stakes by hand, an activity that children could easily join in on, or spray paint could be used to quickly apply an even and professional looking base color. I like to simply allow children’s creativity to flourish when painting plant stakes – you may even find yourself impressed with what they come up with. If you really are looking to add some style, choosing a color scheme that will match your garden is a great suggestion. Natural color schemes such as shades of green, blue and even black look great in the garden. However, you can also go for an even brighter theme. Adding glitter or sequins to create a ‘bejewelled’ effect can be quite effective, and incorporating festivities can be one of your favorite ideas, however it will require a bit more concentration from the kids, and probably a bit more expenditure from the parents. The results will be worth it though. As was suggested above with the flower support nets, labeling stakes, or decorating them to match the plant (e.g. with tomatoes for tomato plants) is a traditional, yet very elegant way of going about it.
Using Old Gardening Equipment
A mistake that is made too often by gardeners is the assumption that used equipment that is cheap and readily available, such as used garden stakes and netting, has no use. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have children who enjoy sports, using netting to make makeshift soccer goals or golf practice zones would be a wonderful idea. Used stakes can be cleaned and used for so many things; it is almost not worth attempting to list them. Pet toys and fire pokers are good ideas, as is a Christmas decoration (think ‘Santa Stops Here’ sign.) If you are more of an expert craftsman, garden stakes could make great chair or table legs for rustic homemade pieces, whilst the artists among us could make great use of used, worn out netting.