My borders are looking messy as the tall plants; verbena, achillea, tall asters, crocosmia “Lucifer” and so on have grown so high that they are falling over under the weight of their flowers. I don’t like this look so searched the internet for hoop type plant supports. I wanted them sturdy so opted for 6 mm mild steel and I didn’t want the plastic coated type as I find they rust and the plastic becomes unsightly.
I tried a few suppliers, for supports 1 metre high and about 30 cm across the price varied from over £3 to well over £5, depending on supplier, plus delivery, all 6 mm mild steel and untreated, “ready-to rust” some call them. To me this seems expensive for a piece of bent untreated steel rod; I decided to make them myself. To start I needed the 6 mm mild steel rods 2.5 metres long, I found them at £2.45 each plus £10 delivery and ordered 20, that works out at £2.95 each hoop. This wasn’t an exhaustive search, you may find rods cheaper locally.
First mark the mid point of the rod length on each rod, I did this with some paint, so that you know where to bend it, then mark 1 metre in from each end, if you want 1 metre legs; if you want shorter legs and a larger diameter hoop then mark accordingly. To bend the rod I used a tree in the garden with a trunk diameter of about a foot. Place the rod behind the tree with the centre mark at the farthest point from you and bend the hoop round the tree till the legs are a few inches past parallel to each other, this gives you parallel legs on the support. No need to be exact, the rods are springy and can be adjusted to suit later, depending on the job. The rod is now an elongated U shape.
Time to bend in the legs. I use two boards about 15 cm wide, place one on the ground then the U end on top of it with the curve sticking out a couple of inches beyond the board, this should result in the one metre length mark made earlier being at the edge of the board. Again no need for great accuracy, you’ll get the feel of how deep you like the hoops to be and you’ll learn to vary this depth depending on the size of the plant that you are propping up. Now place the second board on top of the hoop, stand on the board, grasp the legs and lift them up towards you till they are vertical, the legs are formed and the job done; time to support your plants.
This worked out slightly cheaper than the least expensive ready made hoops and about half the price of the most expensive but there are two further points in favour of doing it yourself.
- With a little, very little, practice you’ll be able to form the exact height and diameter of support that you want, not being stuck with one of the stock sizes.
- The satisfaction of having made your own.