Use pruned raspberry canes to create attractive woven garden edging. This easy project is great for the vegetable garden or for decorative borders.
Every gardener who grows raspberries goes through the same winter ritual: taking out the old wood. Whether you have autumn or summer fruiting varieties you’ll be left with a bundle of canes that generally gets burned or composted. It seems like such a waste, especially when you consider the other materials that we spend money on to bring into the garden. This winter I kept the canes until I came up with a good idea for how to use them. They lay in a stack for about a month before an idea struck me — they could be used to make raspberry cane garden edging.
While the edging looks great, it has a purpose too. Namely, keeping the compost mulch inside the raspberry bed out of the paths. Raspberry cane edging can last several years and at the end of that time, simply replace the old garden edging with newly pruned raspberry canes. It’s a project that doesn’t take long, attractive, and pretty much free! It’s such a good feeling to transform ‘waste’ into useful things.
Discarded raspberry canes
There are only two materials that I used to create my woven ‘wattle’ raspberry cane edging: a bundle of raspberry canes, and three old bamboo canes. I also use the support from larger wooden stakes from the raspberry trellis but these are optional. I’ve made this same raspberry cane garden edging in another area and the bamboo segments are enough to hold it in place.
Raspberry canes grow every year and normally gardeners cut them down when spent and get rid of them. Either in the compost, green-waste or in many cases by burning them. Using them for something attractive and functional in the garden is a better idea. Since my garden is on a slope, they help to keep the compost from eroding out of my raspberry bed. They also look great and I’ve had quite a few people contact me with photos of theirs. Everyone seems so excited by how simple it is to transform discarded raspberry canes into something so lovely and practical.
Pruning Raspberry Canes
The first step is to prune your raspberries. Autumn fruiting varieties (like mine) are generally cut down to the ground every year. I cut mine to about two inches from the ground. You prune all the canes because they fruit most productively on new wood. Summer fruiting varieties fruit on canes that grew the previous summer. For those types, you need to selectively prune out the canes that have already fruited.
Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries in winter when the plants are dormant. Summer-fruiting tends to happen mainly at the end of summer. Either way, the canes should still be alive even though they may look withered and dead. Discard any that are soggy, brittle, or look diseased. In the photo below you can see how many canes I needed for the section of edging I made: it was a decent-sized bundle of about 50 pruned raspberry canes.
Bamboo Cane Supports
When you cut raspberry canes they’re at first flexible and strong. Over time they will harden and lose their bendiness and strength so they need solid supports so that they remain in place. Bamboo canes fit the bill. Even when they’re old and beaten up they can still be strong. If you don’t have bamboo, you can use another sturdy stick like hazel or even pieces of kindling.
The supports for the wattle edging are 18″ segments of bamboo cane that I cut with a hacksaw. Pressed 4 inches into the ground at 12-18″ apart they’ll be your edging’s support. I recommend that you run a piece of string along the area you want to build the edging. Use it as a guide to place your bamboo supports in a straight line.
DIY Raspberry Cane Garden Edging
- Secateurs (or a hacksaw)
- Hammer (optional)
- 1 Bundle of pruned raspberry canes About 50-60 canes
- 10 Bamboo stakes (18" long) Cut down from three long bamboo canes
- If creating raspberry cane edging with a straight line, push a bamboo cane at either end of the area you wish your edging to be. Run a string from both, and use this guide to place your remaining bamboo canes. Push them into the ground about four inches (10 cm) deep. Canes should be spaced about 12-18" (30-45 cm) apart.
- Once the bamboo canes are in, begin weaving in the raspberry canes. Begin from one end and weave one cane in and around the bamboo stakes and push it all the way to the ground. Take a second cane and weave it along the same stakes but in the opposite direction — the video included in this piece shows the process.
- Once you have two canes woven in you move to the next section and weave canes in exactly the same manner in that space. All you’re doing is winding the canes in and out of the bamboo pegs and then making sure the cane that follows it is woven in the opposite way around. Simple.
- Once you’ve built up the edging to the desired height all you need to do is hammer in the bamboo pegs. More for aesthetic reasons than anything, you bang them in so that the tops are flush with each other and are just above the top of the raspberry canes.
Discarded Raspberry Canes as a Garden Resource
In this project, I show how I’ve used discarded raspberry canes to create wattle edging around my raspberry bed. You can use this idea to create garden edging anywhere though! If you don’t have raspberry canes, you could also use trimmed grapevine, thornless blackberry canes, willow, hazel, or any other flexible material. Have fun and pleased with yourself for creating something for nothing and saving a garden resource from being wasted. For more creative garden inspiration, check out these other ideas:
- 30+ Garden Projects using Sticks & Twigs
- Quick and easy DIY Raspberry Trellis
- Create Free Wood Chip Garden Paths
- April Garden Jobs for the Vegetable Garden