Garden DIY Projects Using Branches, Sticks & Twigs
Many of you know that I am always looking for ways to add a little whimsy to my backyard garden. One way I do this is to create my own garden structures and supports. Luckily, the more fruit trees we add to our space, the more we accumulate pruned branches and sticks for various garden projects. Below are some of the whimsical, budget-friendly, and rustic projects using pruned branches that I’ve created over the years.
Every Spring we do a major pruning on our backyard fruit trees and end up with bundles and bundles of fruit tree branches. Pruned branches and sticks are never wasted on this urban homestead! In fact, we finally invested in a cheap wood chipper from Harbor Freight in order to turn some of the smaller branches into chips to add to our hot compost pile as brown material. Another practical use for chipped wood is mulch, which I outline in great detail HERE. Aside from the practical uses for our pruned branches, I’ve been keeping track of the many garden projects using pruned branches that we have created in our garden.
Before I continue, I do want to note that I re-make these garden projects each year with new pruned sticks. These projects aren’t made to withstand severe winds or weather, but we don’t get much of that gardening here in Orange County (Southern California) anyway.
Wattle Panel Decorative Raised Bed Border
Over on Instagram, you might remember we planted our first mini-boysenberry patch this Winter. The plan was to build one raised bed and just let the boysenberries take over. See the photo above, for how it turned out! Also, check out the Instagram post HERE.
According to Merriam-Webster, “wattle” is: a fabrication of poles interwoven with slender branches or reeds.
This fun garden project uses sticks that are more malleable/bend-able. To start this project, we built a shallow raised bed using cedar fence panels. Since our raised bed sits directly on top of soil, it was okay for it to be shallow—the roots of the berries will simply grow into the ground. In this case, the wattle fencing is mainly decorative, although we did fill with soil all the way to the top. Some of the soil spilled out the crevices but, over time, it compacted and did just fine.
To create the wattle, we took our thickest branches and created “stakes” about 15 inches long. We used heavy duty pruners to cut one end of each “stake” into points for hammering into the soil.
To get the structure started, we hammered our stakes into the ground, along the outside of the raised bed, placed about 1 foot apart.
Once we hammered our main stakes into the ground, we used pliable, slender branches to weave in and out through our stakes.
WORD of CAUTION: doing this kind of weaving creates pressure because the wood doesn’t naturally bend in a woven pattern. If you don’t do this carefully, the pressure can either break your twigs OR they will pop out dangerously and spring into your face. Wear safety glasses. Always be careful and don’t push the branches too far. If your branches are too dry and hard, they might not be suitable for this kind of project.
Simple Cucumber Stick Obelisk or Trellis
Good news! Cucumbers do not need more than this simple trellis to grow successfully! For this specific garden project, we are using sturdy and straight sticks to make the main structure. Afterwards, I took some twine and wrapped it around the whole thing so that the small cucumber tendrils had something thinner to grab. Overall, the cucumbers loved this trellis and I would definitely make it again!
Additionally,I decided to repeat this wooden trellis idea one season in large containers for sweet peas . You can see the full tutorial here, but I’m so happy with how they turned out.
Rustic Pole Bean Arch Support
This garden project using sticks was built for my climbing green beans. NOTE: we don’t get high winds in this portion of the garden because it is protected by a wooden fence and structures on both sides. If your garden is subjected to high winds, you might need to incorporate more into the structure.
We took three branches (right, middle, and left supports) that were approximately 6 feet long and drove them into our raised beds. These three vertical branches are driven deeply, about a generous foot is under the soil. I also made sure to choose branches that had notches, knobs, or forks that I could kind of use to hold my horizontal branches. This project can be easier with two people.
After my vertical supports were in the ground, I simply took smaller branches and started to place them horizontally. It was helpful to put them into notches or forked areas and then secure further using twine. Otherwise, my husband held one side while I secured the other, and vice versa.
The original version of this rustic trellis actually did not have the curved top. One day, I realized that the right and left support branches had extra long, thin ends at the top….so I tied them together! Don’t be afraid to let your design evolve and change depending on your materials and your style. Have fun!
Tall & Rustic Pole Bean Support Trellis
Another garden project using pruned branches is this angular trellis. I used it to support pole beans mostly, but I also noticed my cucumbers grew up one side and were plentiful! To date, it’s one of the tallest garden stick projects we have made. As stated in the caption, we ended up filming ourselves creating this trellis over on YouTube.
Bush Bean Support Grid
While I’m usually partial to growing pole beans, this year I am growing ‘dragon tongue’ bush beans. Their flavor and production has been incredible!
Over the years I’ve realized that my bush beans always needed support to grow properly. They produce so many beans that, without some support, the plants fall over onto the soil, break, and bugs eat the beans—enter this garden project using sticks and twigs! This support structure worked out perfectly and used materials that we already. You can watch my YouTube video below for a quick tutorial on how I used pruned branches to make this rustic trellis.
As I say in the video, this design is completely customize-able. In fact, just have fun with it!
Decide how many supports you will need. You will need at least one set in each corner. If your area is large, you might need to add more supports. To make a support, simply take two branches and insert them into the soil pointing towards each other. This creates a mini “X” at the top, like a cradle.
Once you have set all your supports into the ground, start laying branches across your supports however you’d like. Once you’ve added several, it might be time to add some rigidity to the structure—-this is done with twine.
Take some garden twine and wrap the supports, along with the branches you’ve laid onto the supports together and tie off with a knot. You’ll feel that the structure is a lot more rigid and sturdy after this step.
At this point, your grid is done! Continue to add branches if you think it needs it. The design is in your hands! Enjoy!
DIY Whimsical Earwig Trap
This project is not only useful, but really cute for adding a touch of whimsy to the garden.
Earwigs are a problem in my garden. They come out at night and eat little holes into my plants. They can demolish entire seedlings in one night. One way I avoid earwig damage on seedlings is by transplanting my seedlings when they are large enough to survive some damage. To learn more about this decision, you can read The Truth Behind Direct Sowing Versus Transplanting.
Although I find earwigs to be a nuisance in my garden, I tend to leave them alone and occasionally will resort to physical removal if the damage is severe. You can learn more about the role of earwigs in the garden and how I manage them here: Earwigs in the Garden ~ Pest Control.
That being said, this DIY earwig trap plays into their tendency to nestle into flower heads and dark spaces during the day. You can use terra cotta pots of different sizes, but I find that a 3.5″-4″ pot isn’t too heavy to be supported by a branch, yet is large enough to create a good trap for earwigs. Simply take some newspaper and stuff it into the terra cotta pot. This mimics the dark folds and crevices that earwigs like to hide in during the daytime.
Take a thick branch and drive it into the soil where you would like the trap. Ideally, you want the terra cotta pot to sit at the same level as the flowers/blooms because thats where the earwigs usually find shelter. Place the terra cotta pot, upside down, on the thick branch.
To ensure the pot doesn’t fall down the stick, make sure the width of your branch is larger than the drainage hole of the pot, or that the branch has a knob that the pot can get stuck on.