First of all, it is worth mentioning that you might not need to buy a garden obelisk at all.
There are plenty of ways to make your own obelisks and other plant supports using natural or reclaimed materials.
Taking the DIY approach is the most sustainable and eco-friendly option. And it may be easier than you think.
You could use natural branches or bamboo canes, or reclaimed wood, for example. You could even repurpose an old step ladder to support your plants. We strongly recommend that you consider DIY options before you decide to buy an obelisk for your garden.
But we don’t all have the time or energy to take on DIY projects in our gardens. So if you need to support some plants, you may need to look into options that you can buy. There are plenty on the market.
There are plenty of metal obelisks to choose from. But we have not included any of these on this list. To avoid plant damage, and reduce your negative impact on the environment, we suggest that you look into wooden options.
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Five of the options for wooden garden obelisks are included in the list below:
Sturdy and Attractive Wooden Garden Obelisk
What we like about this garden obelisk is its weight and rigidity. It is tall enough and sturdy enough to support even the heaviest and most vigorous of plants. Though it is a small detail, we also like the colour this has been painted – which could look great in many gardens.
In essence, this option gives you a wooden obelisk that will survive in almost any conditions that might be expected here in the UK. It can be used to support plants year-round, even in windier or stormier conditions. We also like its height, which means that you can use it for taller plants than many of the other options on this list.
- Extremely sturdy and strong. (It weighs 6.5kg – much more than flimsier options on the market.)
- Taller, at 1.8m, than many other obelisk options.
- Comes complete with ground pegs to anchor it firmly in the soil.
- Clearly marked pieces are easy to assemble once they arrive.
- Painted – and it is hard to know if the paint is an eco-friendly choice.
- Heavy, so difficult to move around. Not a good choice for more temporary annual uses.
Great Value Eco-Friendly Willow Trellis Supports
Cost: Price not available
One of the best eco-friendly choices – these simple, scissor-trellis, 100% natural willow supports are ideal for those keen to do the right thing for people and planet. If you don’t grow willow in your garden, this is certainly something to consider. Willow grows quickly and provides a range of benefits – one of which is that they can provide materials to make support structures and other structural elements for your garden.
But even if you do want to start growing willow where you live, you won’t get the whips right away. So this great value option could be a great way to get your hands on some willow supports for your garden plants. This is a set of three pyramid-shaped obelisk trellises: one 145 x 60cm, one 115 x 60cm and one 90 x 50cm. These are great for supporting a range of different climbing plants.
- 100% natural, eco-friendly willow.
- Good quality and well made.
- Look attractive and natural even without plants covering them.
- Three support structures for a very reasonable price.
- Lightweight structures – suitable for lighter climbers but not heavier plants.
- Smaller structures, not suitable for extremely tall or vigorous plants.
Sturdy Wooden Obelisk With FSC Certified Wood
Cost: Price not available
This sturdy and tall wooden obelisk is a sensible choice for a more enduring installation for climbing or vining plants. Simply and strongly constructed from FSC certified wood, that has been pressure treated to last, this is a structure that can grace your garden for years to come.
This is a tall obelisk, with a height of 2m, and a 60cm square base area. You can buy one on its own or a pack of two for symmetry. Though not the sturdiest of wooden structures, these are sturdy enough to support a range of plants, and choosing timber rather than metal or other materials means that it is a somewhat more sustainable option.
- Simple wooden construction, minimising use of mined materials.
- Tall and sturdy enough for a wide range of plants.
- Not as strong or high quality as our top pick, and may blow over in strong winds if not anchored well in the soil.
- May be better to paint or use another treatment on it to prolong its life.
- With simple DIY skills you could make something similar yourself and not have to buy one, especially as some assembly is still required when you buy this one.
Simple, Affordable Pine Obelisk
This is another simple and affordable wooden obelisk that could be used in your garden to support climbing plants. This is a pine structure that could be useful for supporting annual crops like runner beans in your kitchen garden. It might not last as long as some of the other options on this list, but it could suffice for many purposes and won’t break the bank.
This obelisk is surface treated for colour but not pressure treated. It is 1.5m high and some assembly will be required. It could be painted with eco-friendly, non-toxic paint to fit in with any garden scheme.
- Affordable and made from pine.
- Much cheaper than hardwood options.
- Tall enough to support a range of climbing plants.
- Not as sturdy or long-lasting as other options.
- Some assembly work is required.
- Something very similar could be made relatively easily and more cheaply using natural or reclaimed materials yourself at home.
Set of Two Matching Wooden Obelisk Planters
If you want an all-in-one solution with planters complete with plant supports then this could be a good choice. This is definitely not the cheapest option, but these are made from solid, jointed softwood timber and are designed to provide both the planting container and strong support for the plants grown within it.
The base planter is 40cm x 40cm x40cm, and the whole structure is 166cm high. So this is large enough to support a range of different plants. The planter also comes with a plastic liner included, so you can fill it, plant it up and put it in place right away.
- Complete solution with lined planter and plant support structures.
- Relatively sturdy and good looking, and can be painted to fit in with your garden design.
- This won’t last forever and may not be that long-lasting.
- Again, it would be cheaper to go the DIY route and make something similar yourself, especially as assembly work is already required.
What Is A Garden Obelisk Used For?
Whether you buy one of the options above, another garden obelisk, or make your own, there are a number of ways to use them. When you are choosing a garden obelisk, it is very important to consider how you want to use it. Since how you will use it will determine the characteristics you will want and need from your choice.
A garden obelisk can be used:
- As a structure for perennial vines or climbers placed permanently in your garden.
- As support for annual crops (like runner beans for example) to climb.
- For vertical gardening solutions (for example, training/ tying in cucumbers or squash to climb upwards rather than sprawling out on the ground.).
- As an alternative to tomato cages to stop these and other plants from flopping over.
- To provide support for tall flowering plants (dahlias for example) in a garden border.
These are primarily practical items, but they can be decorative too. They can fit into a wide range of garden schemes and allow you to make sure that you think upwards, and consider the vertical space as well as the horizontal.
In some cases, plants will naturally climb and cling to these structures of their own accord. In others, you will need to tie in your plants. Usually, plants will be placed inside the base of the obelisk structure, and will wind their way up and around them or be contained largely within them. Obviously, some plants will need a much taller and stronger obelisk than others.
Choosing an Obelisk
When choosing an obelisk you should always begin by thinking about the needs and growth habit and form of the plants you wish to grow.
An obelisk for annual tomato support, for example, will need to be different to one used for larger woody plants like roses. Think about how tall plants will grow and how big and heavy they might become. If using an obelisk for annual food production, it can also be helpful to think about how easy it will be to access, tend and harvest your crops when an obelisk is being used.
Think about the conditions on your site (how sheltered or windy it is) and whether you will use the obelisk all year round or just over the summer months. How sturdy and permanent does it need to be?
Ask yourself how important the appearance of the obelisk itself is. Will it be covered most if not all of the time, or will it stand bare and not covered in plants for certain periods?
Remember, an obelisk is not the only option when it comes to supporting your plants. You might also consider:
- Simple stakes or canes.
- An existing wall or fence.
- Vertical or arch trellis structures.
- Other planting towers or cages.
- Using certain plants to provide support for others (growing climbers into a tree, or growing beans up sweetcorn stalks, for example).
Think about these things, and always consider DIY options first, before you consider purchasing any of the garden obelisk options mentioned above.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.