What Is Plant Netting? (5 Things You Should Know)


Plant netting has many uses in the garden, but keeping pests (both animals and insects) at bay is one of the most important uses.

So, what is plant netting?  Plant netting is a protective cover to keep garden pests at bay. Plant netting also provides shade for plants. Plant netting can vary in the size of the openings, from 1 inch or more (large holes) to almost cloth-like. Plant netting is often made of polyethylene, polypropylene, or other materials.

Of course, all plant netting can keep animal pests at bay, but only the finer mesh can keep small insects out.

In this article, we’ll talk about plant netting, what it is, and how to use it.  We’ll also answer a few common questions about plant netting.

Let’s get started.

What Is Plant Netting?

Plant netting is a protective cover that stops animal pests (like birds, and deer) from eating your plants and fruit.  Plant netting is also a good way to prevent insect damage (like cicadas when they lay their eggs).

bird netting plant netting
Plant netting helps to keep birds and other pests away from plants.

Plant netting takes many forms.  For example:

  • A fine, thin mesh, also called “micro-mesh”, this insect barrier is often made of polyethylene.  It has small holes, and it is meant to stop tiny insects (such as thrips and aphids) while still allowing some light and water to pass through.
  • A thin, flexible net (often made of polypropylene or other materials) with larger holes.  Meant to stop animals (like birds) while still allowing plenty of light and water to pass through.
  • A sturdy, flexible trellis (square grid pattern) that can support climbing plants or protect the base of trees or shrubs.

Is Garden Netting Necessary?

Garden netting is not necessary – you can still grow plants without it.  However, plant netting will keep animal and insects pests away from your garden.

bird bath
If birds or other animals are taking a toll on your garden, then plant netting might be just the thing.

If certain pests are especially bad in your area (cicadas, aphids, moths, birds, rabbits, deer – the list goes on!), then you might want to consider garden netting.

Besides – if you are going to put in the effort to grow fruits and vegetables, why not put up some plant netting and make sure you get a better harvest?

What Is Plant Netting For?

Plant netting is for preventing damage to the plants in your yard or garden.

spinach
You can use plant netting to protect anything your grow in your garden, including spinach.

You can use plant netting to protect any type of plant, including:

  • Berry Bushes
  • Fruit Trees
  • Vegetables (like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes)

What Can You Grow Under Netting?

You can grow any type of plant under netting, but there are a few cautions.

First, remember that some plant netting (fine mesh cloth) will filter out some of the light from the sun.  If you are growing plants that need lots of sunlight (for example, tomatoes), make sure to choose plant netting that allows enough sunlight to get through.

sunlight through trees
Plant netting may filter out some sunlight, so be aware of this if your plants have high sunlight needs.

Second, be aware that netting on plants during rainy weather can keep leaves wet.  This may create the perfect environment for certain plant diseases (such as late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes in particular – you can find blight resistant tomato varieties here).

Third, remember that a frost can damage leaves or fruit that touch the plant netting on a cold night.  If you can, use supports to keep the netting away from your plants (more on this later).

frost
Plant netting that touches leaves or fruit can cause frost damage where condensation gathers and freezes.

Finally, keep in mind that plant netting that is fine enough to keep small insects out will also keep bees and other pollinators out.  If your plants need pollination, be sure to remove the plant netting when flowers appear!

a bee on broccoli flowers
Plant netting that is fine enough to keep out small insects will also keep bees away. When it is time for pollination, give them a way in!

How Do You Cover Plants With Netting? (How To Use Plant Netting)

If you want, you can just wrap plant netting right over the plant you want to protect.  However, it might help to use supports to keep the netting in place.

There are lots of ways to tie plant netting to supports – you can get some ideas in this article.

There are lots of things you can use for supports, including:

  • Stakes
  • Cages
  • Trellises
  • Twine & Posts

Stakes

Stakes are often used to support indeterminate tomatoes and other tall plants.  However, you can also use stakes to hold up plant netting.

tomato stakes
Stakes are often used to support tomatoes, but hey can also help to secure plant netting.

This method keeps plant netting away from leaves and fruit (to keep them dry and avoid frost damage).

You can use multiple stakes to create “fence posts” and make a fence out of flexible plant netting (to keep birds out).  You can also make a fence out of a finer mesh to keep insects out of an entire row or rectangular area of the garden.

Cages

Cages are often used to support determinate tomatoes, pepper, and other plants.  However, you can also use cages to hold up plant netting.

pepper in cage
A plant cage can offer support and help to secure plant netting as well.

The cage itself provides a place to attach plant netting with a tie or clip.  A cage also makes a natural circle or square shape that you can use to wrap the netting all the way around the plant.

Trellises

Trellises are used to support climbing plants like peas, cucumbers, squash, and other plants.  These plants use their tendrils to grab onto the trellis and make their way up.

yardnbarn A shape frame garden trellis
An A-frame trellis makes a great structure to drape plant netting over it for pest protection.

If you have a trellis set up, you can use it to support a piece of plant netting.  An A-frame trellis with plant netting on the open sides could easily create a pest-free zone for lettuce, spinach, or other shade-tolerant crops.

You can get some interesting ideas for garden trellises here.

Twine & Posts

You can also create a support specifically for plant netting.

twine
Use twine with posts or poles to create a makeshift support structure for plant netting.

First, drive a post (or metal/wooden pole) into the ground at one end of a row.  Next, drive another post into the ground at the opposite end of the row.

Then, tie one end of a long piece of twine to the first post (tie it at a height that is a little taller than your plants).  Now, tie the other end of the twine to the second post.

Finally, hang your plant netting over the twine.  You may need to use rocks or bricks to weight down the ends of the netting to keep it from blowing away in the wind.

If the netting is too heavy, add extra poles between the two end posts as needed for additional support.

How To Make Plant Netting

You can make your own plant netting from various materials, some of which also have other purposes.

row cover
Row covers are just one way you can make plant netting.

For example:

  • Row Covers – these are often used to protect plants from frost, but the fine fabric material can just as easily protect against insects (even small ones) and animal pests.  As with other types of plant netting, make sure you know how much light can get through to your plants – and plan accordingly.
  • Shade Cloth – this is used to prevent the leaves and fruits of plants from getting damaged by intense sunlight.  They can also help to keep plants cooler on hot, dry days.  Shade cloth can reduce temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and it can filter out 20% to 90% of sunlight.
  • Chicken Wire – this material is used to make a metal fence that keeps chickens inside their pen, but it can also keep animals outside of your garden.  Chicken wire keep animal pests at bay, but it won’t really help against insect pests.
  • Plastic – you can try to create a makeshift greenhouse out of plastic.  In addition to keeping your plants warmer, it will help to keep pests out.
Chicken wire (or rabbit wire) can help to protect plants and create a structure to support plant netting.

Just remember that pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.) cannot get through row covers, shade cloth, or plastic either.  So, you will need to remove them when flowers appear and it is time for pollination.

Where To Buy Plant Netting

You can buy various types of plant netting from hardware stores or online retailers:

  • Agtec – this plant netting is a fine white transparent mesh, made from high-density polyethylene.  It can also be used as shade cloth.  10 feet by 30 feet.
  • Burgess – this bird net keeps birds and rabbits away from fruit trees.  It is made of polypropylene and allows sunlight and water to get through to your plants.  14 feet by 45 feet.
  • Gardener’s Supply Company – this pop-up bird netting is small, but perfect for protecting lettuce, spinach, and other plants that don’t grow too tall.  It has an accordion-style shape and is made of polyethylene and steel.  37 inches by 21.5 inches by 18.5 inches.
  • Gurney’s – this plant netting with ½ inch openings is made from UV treated polypropylene.  28 feet by 28 feet.
  • Park Seed – this Pop-Screen mesh plant netting has 4 walls and a roof to make a home for your plants!  The mesh has 1/8 inch openings, keeping out all but the smallest of pests.  40 inches by 40 inches.
  • Wayfair – this plastic plant netting protects against insects.  You can choose from a variety of sizes, up to 10 feet by 300 feet.
  • Wayside Gardens – this plant netting comes in the form of a tunnel, protecting plants against insects, animals, and storms.  12 inches tall by 18 inches wide by 80 inches long.
row cover
You can use half-hoops, driven into the ground at both ends, to help support plant netting.

Conclusion

Now you know what plant netting is and what to use it for.  You also know how to use it and how to make your own if you want to DIY.

You can learn more about biological pest control in this article.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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