Reusable Garden Netting

Ripe Cherry, Thanks to Reusable Netting

Ripe Cherry, Thanks to Reusable Netting

Skip the Delicate Plastic Bird Netting in Favor of Sturdy Sheer Curtains 

by Rebecca Rockefeller

We’re lucky enough to have berries and cherries in our backyard, but that means we also have hungry birds waiting to share in the summer bounty. Now, I’m a big fan of birds but I don’t like to give them the best of our home-grown fruit, so we need to cover our plants and trees with bird netting.

What Happens to Unprotected Fruit: Robin Stealing Raspberries

What Happens to Unprotected Fruit: Hungry Robin Checks Out Raspberries

We started out using conventional plastic bird netting, the sort available from home and garden stores. It works, but it’s also quite fragile and ours always photo-degrades into brittle pieces within a season or two. Then we’re left with bird netting that has holes more than large enough to let the birds through, and no way to turn the unusable netting into a recycling facility for a next life; it’s a cradle-to-grave product.

Raspberries Protected by Mesh Curtain

Raspberries Protected by Mesh Curtain

I discovered a more durable alternative a few years ago when a flock of Cedar Waxwings descended on my just-ripe raspberries and started gulping them up. If you’ve ever seen a Cedar Waxwing in action, you know that each bird can swallow a berry whole in less than a second; if I couldn’t cover my raspberry canes, I was going to lose my entire crop in less than 30 minutes. I couldn’t find enough official garden netting in my garage, so I ran into my daughter’s room and snatched the sheer curtain panels that were about to transform her bunk bed into an ethereal fort. Instead, they transformed our garden in a magical land (the kids love to play under the netting outside) and preserved our fruit from avian harm.

Cherry Tree Under Bed Netting

Cherry Tree Under Bed Netting

These curtain panels turned out to be even better than the standard garden netting, and we picked up enough of this sort of fabric to cover our blueberries, cherries, and beans (some birds love young bean plants). It may look like we’re decorating the garden for an avant garde wedding, but the fruit ripens beautifully through this lightweight netting, birds can’t get even the tips of their beaks through, and at the end of the season it can be washed, line dried, and folded for many more seasons of use. We’ve had ours in heavy use for over two years now, and they’re still going strong.

Young Bean Plants Protected by Net Curtain

Young Bean Plants Protected by Net Curtain

You can find finished curtain panels at places such as Ikea, raw fabric at your local craft or fabric store (check out the inexpensive tulle; that’s less supple but can still work well), and from thrift shops and garage sales. I found two round bed nets that work perfectly on our young sour pie cherry tree and bean trellis – The netting doesn’t weigh the branches or vines down, and it’s easy for humans to find the overlapped sides at the opening and slip right in to pick the fruit.

Cherries Protected by Bed Netting

Cherries Protected by Bed Netting

Since this fabric is 100% polyester, this isn’t plastic-free garden netting, but it is durable and when it’s finished it can be turned into a local textile recycling bin for transformation into a new life.

For more garden reuse and upcycling inspiration, click through to our Trash Backwards app. Our curated collection of ideas will help you harness the power of the important Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Rethink – to improve or begin your own garden, whether you’re growing flower for fun or food for your family. Click through via the photo below for a few Farm & Garden ideas right now. TB Farm & Garden

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Categories: DIY, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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5 Comments on “Reusable Garden Netting”

  1. July 10, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    What a great idea! I lose most of my fruit to birds every year (and I’m realizing that’s probably where 5 of my 6 snap pea seedlings went, too). I hate the way the traditional netting looks and it’s so hard to handle. This looks better, sounds easier to handle and longer lasting, and can be found and upcycled. What could be better?! I guess have a new thing to start looking for at the thrift stores.

    • July 10, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      Thanks! Yes, I find this stuff so much easier to handle, and I love how it washes clean at the end of each fruit’s season. Good luck with your thrift store hunt!

  2. July 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I have been using bird netting to cover my strawberries since last summer, but the netting is disintegrating, I figured I could make do till next summer with what I have, but now I’ll be on the lookout for sheer panels instead. Thank you

  3. February 19, 2016 at 5:48 am #

    Garden and Plant Netting is a necessity for raise your personal gardeners. Garden Netting Defend from Annoying Animal in Home & Garden .Garden netting is important for any gardener, protecting fruit and vegetables from insect and birds. The nettings can be placed straight over the crop.


  1. Golden-crowned Sparrow with a Badly Injured Neck – WildCare - February 21, 2018

    […] curtains are actually an effective, reusable and wildlife-safe alternative to garden netting… see an article on using curtains to protect fruit here. Obviously you should still check the covered trees and plants daily for animals that may have […]

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