For those lucky enough to have a healthy, thriving raspberry or tomato plot, it might seem that you could hardly want for anything else in life. Delicious! But a challenge that comes with having a productive raspberry patch is containing it. This particular raspberry patch is small in square footage, as far as the plants go, but large in entitlement air space. To rein in the berry branches, we’ll be using bamboo poles, waxed cording, and a Japanese square lashing technique for both beauty and durability in the joints themselves. This technique works beautifully for any decorative or functional lattice.
DIY Level: Beginner
Materials Needed (for a three-tiered, 12.5’ long fence):
- Thirteen (13) 6’ bamboo poles
- Waxed cord
- Chop saw (optional but recommended)
This DIY project might be the perfect thing for you if your raspberry patch looks something like this – long, unruly stalks overhanging and blocking out the sunlight for other plants or your grass, and catching on your skin when you walk by.
Even if you have an existing retaining fence of sorts (we installed this thick-gauge wire one when the stalks were much shorter), a taller bamboo support fence will not only work better, but it will look much more natural as well.
You can see that the raspberries have outgrown their wire fence caretaker, as it were.
So when you’ve reached the limits of allowing raspberry takeover, gather your supplies and get started on this fantastic outdoor project. Note: You can use the Japanese square lashing technique and bamboo poles for any number of landscape support pieces, whether decorative or functional (or both!). Consider supports needed for tomato plants, climbing roses, ivy, pole beans…the list is endless, really.
Begin by determining the size of bamboo support fence needed. Measure with tape, and then eyeball with actual bamboo poles to get a feel for your spacing preferences. This example shows a 12-1/2’ long fence with three horizontal bamboo tiers.
Lay a measuring tape out on the ground, open to the length of your fence. Then lay your 6’ bamboo poles perpendicular to the measuring tape; these will be the vertical posts for your fence. This example shows a fence with four vertical posts, evenly spacing three 4’2” sections.
When your vertical posts are spaced and laid out, loosely lay your horizontal bamboo poles across them to determine how much of a space you want between the horizontal rows. Just eyeball it at this point; there’s no need to get precise just yet.
Decide how much, if any, overhang you want from each horizontal pole over the vertical posts. This example shows a 3” overhang, which means we’ll need to trim every horizontal bamboo pole to an equal length. To determine how long each horizontal pole should be, add the spacing between vertical posts (in this case 4’2”) with twice the overhang amount (in this case 2×3”, or 6”).
4’2” + 6” = 4’8” (or 50” = 6” = 56”)
So each horizontal bamboo pole (there are nine) needs to be trimmed to be 4’8”, or 56”, long.
Measure the cut distance on your horizontal bamboo poles.
Cut the mark with a chop saw, aka miter saw.
Set your pile of trimmed bamboo poles away from your full-length (6’) posts so they don’t accidentally grab the wrong one.
Now that your spacing is determined and your poles are trimmed, it’s time to lash your first joint using the Japanese square lashing technique. This might seem a bit tricky at first, but you’ll soon have the hang of it and be able to do these in your sleep. Or maybe it won’t even seem tricky at all, in which case we’re all proud of you and your mad lash-tying skillz. To start, cut a piece of your waxed cording about 3’ to 4’ long (longer for thicker cording, shorter for thinner cording). This example uses fairly thin cording, cut to about 3’ lengths.
Fold the cord in half and pinch the halfway point.
Use a table or your lap or some other support surface, and arrange your first two bamboo pieces – one vertical bamboo post (shown in photos as bamboo A), and one trimmed horizontal bamboo pole (bamboo B). Position bamboo B with the appropriate amount of overlap/overhang, in this case 3”. Drape the center of your cord over bamboo A directly above the joint site, and pull the cord ends downward toward the ground.
Overlap-cross the cord ends behind bamboo A, pull taut.
Bring the cord ends upward above bamboo A and directly next to the top edge of bamboo B.
Loop the cord ends backward over bamboo B and downward past bamboo A’s sides, pull taut.
Overlap-cross the cord ends on the underside of bamboo A, pull taut. Bring the cord ends upward next to bamboo A’s sides.
Overlap-cross the cord ends above bamboo A, pull taut. Bring the cord ends downward (toward the ground) along the sides of bamboo A.
Cross the cords to form an X shape below bamboo A. (The X will appear between the two parallel lashings if viewed from below.) Bring the cord ends upward.
Pull the cord ends taut.
Cross the cords to form an X shape above bamboo B. (The X will appear between the lashed “square.”) Pull the cord ends downward.
Instead of bringing the cord ends all the way below bamboo A, you will instead pull them toward (what will be) the top of your bamboo post (it will feel like you’re wrapping the cord ends all the way around bamboo B, in a way). The cord will lie in the space where A and B touch. Cross the cord ends on the top side of the joint.
Pull the cord ends backward directly on top of themselves, in that same space where A and B touch. In other words, the cord ends will hinge backward below B but will stay above A. Pull taut.
Overlap-cross the ends of the cord above bamboo A but still below bamboo B. Pull cord ends downward along the sides of bamboo A.
Overlap-cross the cord ends below bamboo A, pull taut.
Tie a square knot. Congrats! Your first Japanese square lash is complete.
Repeat this process for every joint along this horizontal row, taking care to keep your overhang distances accurate and consistent. When you have two horizontal bamboo poles meeting up with the bamboo post (which is probably every joint that’s not directly on the fence ends), you’ll want to join both bamboo poles at the same time. We recommend doubling up the wrapping steps (right before the Xs are lashed) in this case, to add extra holding power for an extra bamboo pole.
With your first horizontal row completed, you’ll want to be a little more precise with the vertical spacing between horizontal rows. Measure and mark the spacing on each vertical post.
This example uses an 18” gap between horizontal rows, which means the lower half of the fence will have no horizontal rows. Adjust this measurement, or the total number of rows, to meet your needs and suit your preferences.
Here’s the fence, all lashed and ready to be installed vertically. I love the imperfection of bamboo; the poles aren’t perfectly straight, which lends a charming informality to the look of the fence. A perfect match for an unruly raspberry patch!
Depending on your current setup, installation could require a few more steps, or it could be easy. If you have existing support posts, simply wire your bamboo posts to those. We had these old green metal stakes in place from a few years ago (when our raspberries were small) and so hitched the bamboo posts onto these with some thick-gauge wire.
If you don’t already have metal stakes in place, you could pound some in for support at the distance/length of your bamboo fence.
It was a happy coincidence that the bamboo posts fit perfectly into the groove of these metal stakes. They’re the common landscape metal stakes (often with a white painted end) you can purchase at any hardware or outdoor/landscape retailer.
Alternatively, you could use rebar to hold the lower portion of your bamboo fence in place.
This example uses rebar for the internal vertical posts’ support.
The bamboo is sturdy, and the lashings are incredibly sturdy (if you’ve taken care to pull the cording taut throughout the Japanese square lashing process), but they do need a little help to stay upright if you don’t want to pound the bamboo posts themselves into the ground. Which wasn’t an option in this case, due to the height needed for raspberry stalk containment.
We couldn’t be happier with the function of this bamboo support fence.
And we adore the casual, organic look of the fence.
Bamboo just brings out the best aspects of nature, don’t you think? Good luck on creating your own DIY bamboo support fence or decorative lattice! We hope you love the end result. (Also shown in photo: DIY raised flower box and DIY window box.)