Create attractive garden edging with free materials
Did you know that if you google ‘use raspberry canes’ or even ‘raspberry canes diy’ that absolutely no ideas come up? 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. They seem like such a shame to ‘waste’ though, especially when you consider the other materials that we buy to bring into the garden like willow, hazel, and bamboo.
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 edging.
Materials needed for this project
- A bundle of pruned raspberry canes
- Bamboo cut into 18″ segments
- Tools: a hacksaw and a hammer
Recycling in the Garden
I’ve been looking at garden feature ideas and nearly bought pre-fab hazel edging at a local shop. I stayed my hand though thinking that there’s got to be a better DIY solution. Something that isn’t going to cost me anything and look even better. Eureka struck as I stood contemplating the raspberry canes.
There’s only two materials that I used to create my woven ‘Wattle’ edging that you see in this project: a bundle of raspberry canes, and three old bamboo canes. I also use the support from larger wooden stakes that I have driven into the ground but I think that these are optional. They’re more for the support of the new raspberry bushes that will grow again this year.
The first step is actually pruning your raspberries. Autumn fruiting varieties (like mine) are generally cut down to the ground every year. This is because they mainly fruit on new wood. Summer fruiting varieties fruit on canes that grew the previous summer so for those types you need to selectively prune out the canes that have already fruited. I cut my canes down to about 1-2″ above the ground.
You prune your raspberries in winter, when the plants are dormant. The canes should still be alive even though they 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.
Bamboo Cane Supports
When you cut raspberry canes they’re at first flexible and strong. Over time they will harden and lose some of the bendiness and strength. They need good, solid supports to wind themselves around so that they remain in place. Bamboo canes fit the bill. Even when they’re old an beaten up they can still be strong.
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 so that they line up straight.
Weaving the Raspberry Canes
Once the bamboo canes are in, begin weaving in the raspberry canes. Begin from one end and weave one cane in and around the pegs and push it all the way to the ground. Take a second cane and weave it along the same pegs but in the opposite direction — the video at the top of this post shows the process better.
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.
Finishing the Edging
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. I used the back of my hatchet to do this in the video but most would probably use a hammer.
The finished product is strong, attractive, and pretty much free! It’s such a good feeling to transform ‘waste’ into useful things.