If you are just getting started with your garden, you might be wondering what garden stakes can be used for. Even if you are an experienced gardener, there might be some uses you haven’t considered before. I compiled some information and ideas about what how you can use the versatile garden stake.
So, what are garden stakes used for? Garden stakes can be used to support and protect plants, train fruit trees, or to mark and separate rows of plants. You can buy garden stakes online, at a garden center, or fashion your own out of things you might have lying around the house.
Let’s take a closer look at the uses of garden stakes, along with some ideas for what you can use to make your own.
What Are Garden Stakes Used For?
Garden stakes have several uses to make gardening easier and more productive. One of the most common and helpful uses for garden stakes is to support plants, so let’s start there.
Use Garden Stakes To Support Plants
Some plants, such as peas and pole beans, will grow so tall that they eventually begin to fall over without support. Some varieties of peas and pole beans can get up to 8 feet tall, so staking them is essential to prevent damage.
Other plants, such as cucumbers and squash, will take up less space if they are given support to grow vertically. Growing plants vertically is a huge benefit to gardeners with a small yard!
Then there are indeterminate tomatoes. Not only can they grow 6 feet high or taller, but they also have heavy fruits, which can make the plant more likely to tip over.
Without strong stakes for support, a tomato plant that produces heavily can become a victim of its own success if it falls over or if its branches snap! For more information, check out my article on why and how to support tomato plants.
Support for your plants is even more important if you live in windy areas. For more information, check out my article on how to protect your plants from wind and storms.
Luckily, there are lots of good ways to use garden stakes to support your plants. One simple way is to let the plants climb directly up the stakes. You should give each plant its own stake, to avoid competition between plants for sunlight and resources.
Some plants will naturally wrap themselves around stakes as they climb up towards the sunlight. However, other plants need to be tied to the stakes with twine as they grow.
For example, a tomato plant should be tied to a stake every foot or so as it gets taller. Just make sure not to tie the plant too tightly to the stake. You want to leave room for growth, and avoid “choking” the plant’s stem or vines.
Another method to support plants involves creating a “rope ladder”. First, plant two stakes in the ground, each at opposite ends of a row. Then, run a length of twine between the stakes, and tie it to both stakes at a height of 1 foot or so.
Repeat this at heights of 2 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, etc. (depending on how high your stakes are). Then, all of the plants in that row will have something to hold on to as they climb during the growing season.
This method also gives you a quick visual that tells you approximately how high each plant has grown. For more ideas, check out my article on the types and uses of twine.
Remember that if your row is very long, you may want to add additional stakes in between the two end stakes. This helps to support the lengths of twine so that your whole setup doesn’t come crashing down on your plants!
You can also use stakes to help you build a trellis for plant support. A trellis can be completely vertical, as with a wall trellis.
A trellis can also be angled, which gives plants more room to climb, without making it difficult for you to harvest at the end of the growing season. For more information, check out my article on trellises.
Use Garden Stakes To Protect Plants
You can also use garden stakes to help you protect your plants. For instance, if you have blueberry bushes, you know how much birds love to eat the berries – often before you get any for yourself!
To prevent this, first drive some stakes into the ground around your blueberry bushes. Don’t put the stakes too close to the blueberries, or else you might damage the roots.
Then, stretch some garden netting or fabric across the stakes and over the blueberry bushes to keep the birds away. You may want to use some twine to tie the fabric to the stakes and hold it in place.
You can find garden fabric at Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Gardener’s Supply Company. For example, check out these row covers made from garden fabric at gardeners.com.
When you want to harvest your blueberries, simply pull back the netting and pick your berries. Make sure to replace it afterward to keep the birds away. Of course, the same concept applies to any plant you want to protect!
If you don’t want to bother with netting, there is another method you can use to keep birds away from your plants. As before, drive some stakes into the ground around the plants you want to protect.
Next, run some lengths of twine between the stakes, perhaps at 4 or 5 feet high. Then, hang some “bird scarers” from the lengths of twine. Your bird scarers can be old CDs, or anything that is shiny and would make birds think twice about attacking your plants.
Just remember to move the bird scarers every once in a while. Otherwise, the birds may become conditioned to seeing them. Then, they will start attacking your plants again when they know there is no danger!
Use Garden Stakes to Train Fruit Trees (Espalier)
If you have planted young fruit trees in your yard, you may have heard of espalier. This method uses stakes, twine, or other methods to support the branches of fruit trees. Over time, this staking and tying helps to encourage a desired growth pattern for the tree.
For more information, check out this article from Washington State University on pruning and training fruit trees.
Use Garden Stakes to Mark and Separate Rows Of Plants
Stakes can also be helpful for keeping track of everything in your garden. For instance, you can plant stakes and run twine between them to help you plant straight rows in the spring.
You can also use stakes to mark off the part of a row where one variety of plant ends and another begins. For example, a stake could tell you that all the tomato plants to the left of it are of the “Early Girl” variety, and all the tomato plants to the right are of the “Brandywine” variety. (You should also put a sign of some kind on the stake to remind you of this – I would never remember!)
What Are Garden Stakes Made Of?
Garden stakes can be made of just about anything – just be sure you are not using toxic materials! Anything that has been treated with chemicals is a cause for concern (such as pressure treated wood).
Some common materials for garden stakes include:
You can use larger branches pruned from trees for staking bigger plants. You can use smaller lengths of wood, pruned from smaller trees or grapevines, for staking smaller plants.
You can also search your garage or storage unit and put some of that old junk to good use! For example, lengths of pipe would work well as sturdy stakes for tall and heavy indeterminate tomato plants.
An old broomstick, hockey stick, lacrosse stick, or any old stick could work well as a stake for shorter plants. If you have old barbells you don’t use anymore, they could make some sturdy (but heavy) stakes.
You can also ask friends or family for any old stuff they have lying around to use for garden stakes. You might even want to get some free stuff from craigslist if you are going to be planting lots of tomatoes or other plants that need staking.
What Else Can You Use To Support Plants?
Besides stakes, there are some other options for supporting plants, including:
- Wire cages, often used for tomatoes and peppers. These can be made of metal, wood, or plastic.
- Trellises, often used for decorative purposes or to make harvesting easier by allowing access to fruit without a ladder. Trellises often use twine or rope to form a ladder for vining plants to climb.
- Fences, such as your garden fence or the fence along your property line.
- Other plants! For example, corn is a good, strong plant that can support the growth of pea plants (which are relatively light) as they climb their way up a cornstalk. For more information, check out my article on how tall corn will grow.
By now, you should have a good idea of the ways you can use garden stakes to help you out in the garden. Hopefully, you also got some creative ideas for ways to make your own garden stakes.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice of your own about garden stakes, or creative ideas on what to use as stakes, please leave a comment below.