How to Control Garden Growth

Staking Systems for Plants

Delphinium are available in small sizes that are self-supporting.

A classic staking system for climbing plants such as beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, and morning glories is a teepee made of four or five sturdy, bamboo, wood, or metal poles (six feet is a good length). Set the bottoms about six inches into the ground in a square or circular manner. Tie the poles together firmly at the top with garden twine. This will make a cone-shape support that can be taken down after use and used again the next year. Peas have tendrils that clasp the poles, and morning glories twine around them, but most other plants need to be trained as they grow and tied with string.

Flowers such as delphiniums, asters, dahlias, and Shasta daisies are now available in compact sizes that are self-supporting. Shorter types of daylilies are less likely to become floppy in low light than taller types. Compact types of peas and tomatoes, though not entirely self-supporting, can be allowed to grow loosely on their own, or they may need only small cages or supports such as twiggy brush.

For taller types, you can stake each plant individually, inserting the stake several weeks before the growth gets going and tying the plant loosely to the stake at intervals as it grows. The ties should loosely connect the main stem to the stake and should not bind the individual leaves or flowers. Once a plant has flopped over, it is usually too late to do much about it.

Bushy plants such as peonies can be propped up with greater ease by using grow-through or grid supports. You can buy commercial grid supports, which are handsome round or square grids neatly set on straight legs; green grids are more camouflaged amid the foliage than metallic grids. You can also make your own grid supports out of a sheet of wire mesh, cut a little wider than the plant it will support. The extra length can be bent into legs, or legs can be made from wire or coat hangers. Get the supports in place early, before the small flower buds start expanding and become too large to grow through the holes in the grids. Set the grid over a newly emerging perennial in spring. The stems grow though it, retaining their shape while staying firmly upright.

Larger garden structures such as trellises, pergolas, arches, and fences can be used as plant supports. A chain-link or wire-mesh fence can be used to support vegetables or flowers.

Keep reading to learn about how to prepare the garden for winter.

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