How to Build a Simple DIY Blueberry Bush Cage (2022)

Last updated on May 14th, 2022 at 09:26 am

My family loves to eat blueberries. These tasty berries are perfect in yogurt, on a salad, or even just a handful for a snack. But you know who else loves blueberries? Birds, squirrels, and deer. And every year, wildlife keeps beating us to ripe, juicy berries on our blueberry bush! But a few years I was determined to outsmart those critters (and won!)

In this post, we share asimple, inexpensive DIY blueberry bush cage using PVC pipe and bird netting. We designed and installed it in under an hour (probably more like 30 minutes, but I didn’t time it….)

It was extremely easy to install, relatively inexpensive (under $50) and broke down quickly for storage at the end of the season.

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Do Blueberry Plants Need to be Caged?

In my personal opinion, yes. If you want to grow blueberries and NOT have them eaten by birds and pests, the easiest and most foolproof way is to cage your blueberry plants. However, if you are against using netting, check out these 20 Simple Ways to Protect Your Blueberry Bushes.

Problems with Netting Only

The previous 2 years we simply draped netting over the blueberry bush. But using netting alone was a big failure. Why?

  1. Secure Netting to Ground: The first year I didn’t extend and secure the netting into the ground. And I couldn’t figure out how our berries were going missing until the bush was almost completely picked over and I saw a bird very nicely land on the ground and hop right under the net, and then jump up to snatch a berry. Ugh.
  2. Appropriate Mesh Size: The second year I placed rocks to hold the netting down to the ground. But, I made another fatal error. I used a mesh size (5/8”) that allowed both the blueberries AND birds right through the net. I proceeded to watch the birds sit right on top of the bush, reach their beaks right through the net and pick berriesright off the branches. Double ugh.

I was determined NOT to be defeated. I researched covering blueberry bushes and realized that our blueberry bush needed a simple frame to support draped netting.

Online I found beautiful crop cages and pop-up tents for sale. And they looked perfect.But they were outside our budget (Over $100).

I could buy a lot of blueberries with $100 at the grocery store!

(Video) DIY Blueberry Enclosure ~ Cheap and Easy!

About Our DIY Blueberry Cage

Before I dive in any further, I want to touch on 2 things about our simple DIY blueberry cage to ensure this project is a fit for your garden.

  • Size of Our Cage
  • Material (PVC vs Wood)

1. Size of Cage/ Number of Bushes

We have just one large blueberry bush. We planted it about 5-7 years ago, I can’t quite remember exactly when. It’s about 4 ft tall by 4 ft wide now. Apparently there are four types of blueberries:highbush,lowbush,hybrid half-high, andrabbiteye. And we have the most commonly planted type – the highbush.

(Side note, production of blueberries works best with more than one bush. While blueberry are self-pollinating to an extent, they tend to grow larger fruit through cross-pollination with a second variety planted nearby. We have planted another variety blueberry bush next to this one several times. And every.single.one of these bushes died. Why? Not exactly sure…. Mystery to solve another year.)

But I digress…

My point is that the measurements and supply quantities for this tutorial applies to covering just one larger blueberry bush.

BUT this method should also work for blueberry bushes in a row with a modification in measurements.

For our cage (and this tutorial) we kept measurements nice and simple. Since PVC pipe is easily available in 10’ lengths, we decided to build a 5’ by 5’ cage for our 4’ by 4’ bush. Makes things a bit easier, doesn’t it? We just needed to cut the PVC pipes in half…. easy peazy, lemon squeezy! And it gives the blueberry bush room for growth.

2. PVC or Wood Blueberry Bush Cage?

I’d also like to touch on using PVC pipe. Admittedly, PVC doesn’t make for the most attractive cage. Especially in my front yard. A wood frame would be far more attractive.

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But after doing some research PVC seemed to be the better option than wood. Why? Netting slides easy over the PVC poles versus snagging and ripping on wood. Snaps and rips? I don’t need that kind of frustration…

Next year I might spray paint the PVC a nice color to blend in with the house and garden. Probably a dark green color.

(Video) How to Build Blueberry Plant Enclosure (KEEP birds & squirrels OUT) with RECYCLED MATERIALS

When to Erect a DIY Blueberry Bush Cage

Ideally, the best time to erect the blueberry cage is when the berries start to turn color. Wildlife tend to be less picky than we humans. They are happy to eat the berries before they completely ripen. So don’t wait too long to erect your blueberry cage.

What Size Mesh to Use?

Bird netting comes in a variety of mesh openings – it ranges from 1/4” to 3/4”. While the thought of a smaller mesh sounds enticing, the medium to larger size might be a better choice since it ensures that bees and other pollinators can reach any late-blooming blossoms.

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Bees are crucial to producing blueberry fruits. Without them around pollinating your blueberry bush, you’ll won’t see many berries. Ensure you are either erecting the cage after pollination season or using a mesh wide enough to let these helpers through.

We bought netting with 5/8″ mesh, which should be wide enough for bees.

Note that it was pointed out on my Hometalk page that this mesh is notorious for killing snakes. I’m going to be honest, I’m petrified of snakes. Like stop-frozen-in-my-tracks petrified of snakes. But maybe you do and maybe you are a fan of snakes. If so, perhaps consider other mesh options.

Supplies

Our supplies were fairly inexpensive. We only had to buy the PVC pipe and netting – the rest of the items we already had in our basement. Our total cost was around $50.

  • PVC pipe – 10’ lengths of ¾” diameter (Quantity of 6) – we bought ours at Lowes
  • PVC side outlet elbows or corner connectors – ¾” (Quantity of 8) – we bought ours at Lowes
  • Saw or PVC cutter
  • Netting – Minimum of 6′ by 40′ roll. We found the best value in a 7’ by 100’ roll for future gardening projects
  • Plastic cable zip ties (strips of fabric also work)
  • Garden and fabric staples – 1″ wide. These staples come in various lengths. We already had on hand the 3.5″ long ones from another DIY project to childproof indoor floor plants.

How to Build a DIY Blueberry Cage with Netting

1. Measure

Measure the height and the width of your blueberry bush to make sure it will fit a 5’ by 5’ cage. If not, modify accordingly.

2. Cut PVC Piping

Using the 10’ PVC pipes in half using your chosen cutting tool. We used our circular saw, but PVC pipe can also be cut using a PVC scissor-style or ratchet-style cutters or hacksaw.

3. Assemble Cage

Assemble the cage into a cube using all of the pipes and corner connectors.

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(Video) How to build a fruit cage | Brassica net house - Protect your crop from birds & butterflies

Once assembled, secure the PVC into the ground with garden staples.

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4. Drape Netting

Starting from the bottom of one side, unroll netting and drape it up and over the PVC frame down to the ground on the other side. In other words, you are covering two sides and the top of the cage.

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In my experience, netting gets tangled very easily, so grab a helper for this step. The netting we used was 7’ wide, wider than our 5’ cage, but I preferred the overlap.

I was impressed with the netting – lightweight yet still appears strong. It’s made by Jobes’ Easy Gardener division (they also manufacture the garden staples). Based in Waco, Texas, they focus on a wide range of products that make growing plants attainable for any level of gardener. Thank you Jobes for making gardening a little easier for this gal!

Secure the netting along the top and sides of the frame at intervals with plastic or fabric ties. If using plastic ties, leave a little room so that when dismantling the cage at the end of the season you can cut the ties without cutting a hold in the netting.

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Next repeat the same process with remaining two open sides of the cube with one VERY IMPORTANT exception. To have access to the berries once they are rip, don’t use ties along the sides of the PVC pipe, but only along the top. This way, you can easily raise the netting on these two sides and collect berries.

Leave a few inches of netting along the ground so that you can weigh it down with garden staples or rocks to stop wildlife from sneaking in underneath (they are smart critters!).

Keep an eye out throughout the season, and don’t be surprised if you start seeing evidence of digging under the PVC pipes. Those critters are clever and determined to get at those blueberries! We added more rocks and pieces of wood boards on the ground inside the PVC pipe to slow the critters down.

(Video) How to protect your blueberries from birds

And wa-lah! A DIY blueberry bush cage that protects blueberries so that YOU, not the birds and squirrels, can enjoy the harvest. Whoop whoop! Next project? Learning which 10+ Vegetables and Herbs Rabbits Won’t Eat in My Garden.

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When to Remove Your DIY Blueberry Bush Cage

After you have enjoyed your harvest of ripe, juicy berries, simply snip the plastic ties, remove and fold the netting, and break apart the PVC pipes and connectors and prepare for storage. With proper care, the netting should last a few years.

That’s it! I was impressed with how quick and easy (and cheap!) it was to build. It worked perfectly last summer and we intend to repeat the process next year. We finally figured out a way to be a step ahead of the birds and squirrels and beat them to our own berries!

***This post was featured on Condo Blues Friday Favorites Linky Party***

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FAQs

How do you make a blueberry bush cage? ›

How to Build Blueberry Plant Enclosure (KEEP birds & squirrels ...

How tall should a blueberry cage be? ›

Rich is tall (about six and a half feet), and highbush blueberries can get tall (up to around 6 feet). To accommodate both, we start with eight foot t-posts driven about one foot into the ground. These posts go in every 5 or 10 feet, so you can connect them with 10 foot lengths of metal electrical conduit.

How do you make a simple fruit cage? ›

How To Build A DIY Walk In Fruit Cage - YouTube

How big of a container do you need for a blueberry bush? ›

Mature blueberries need a container at least 24 inches deep and about 24-30 inches wide. When planting smaller shrubs, start with a smaller container and repot as it grows. Repot in late summer - early fall so roots have enough time to grow before winter. Don't expect to harvest blueberries the first year.

Should I cage my blueberry bush? ›

Do Blueberry Plants Need to be Caged? In my personal opinion, yes. If you want to grow blueberries and NOT have them eaten by birds and pests, the easiest and most foolproof way is to cage your blueberry plants.

How do you make a fruit cage out of wood? ›

Katie's Allotment - June 2015 - The Fruit Cage! - YouTube

How do blueberry farmers keep birds away? ›

When it comes to figuring out how to keep birds away from blueberries, some farmers choose to surround blueberry bushes with netting or cages to prevent birds from eating the fruit. Netting must be installed properly to ensure birds can't get too close, or get in below the netting once bushes are covered.

How do I keep animals from eating my blueberries? ›

The only foolproof prevention is to use an exclusion like bird netting. Bird netting is the most effective way to protect berries from birds. Bird netting is highly effective at excluding birds, but it has difficulties. Early on, I would drape netting directly on the blueberry shrubs.

How deep do blueberry roots go? ›

In general, blueberry plants have shallow root systems with the majority of the roots 8 to 12 inches deep in the soil and rarely deeper than 16 inches. Most of the roots, 90%, are located within the dripline of the blueberry canopy. Root systems of highbush blueberry plants are composed primarily of very thin roots.

How do you make a cage? ›

How To Build A Small Animal (Rabbit/Bird) Cage DIY - YouTube

How do you make a PVC garden cage? ›

How to Fence Your Raised Bed Garden Using PVC - YouTube

How do you make a PVC crop cage? ›

How To: Building a PVC Cage - YouTube

What is the best potting soil for blueberries? ›

Blueberries grow best in loamy soil, rich in organic matter, advises the University of California Cooperative Extension. Add peat moss, shredded bark or coco peat in quantities up to 50 percent of total soil volume to minimize stress on root growth and allow excess water to drain away from plant roots.

Can you plant a blueberry bush in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

Growing blueberries in 5-gallon buckets is an option for starting young blueberry bushes. However, as the bushes grow, be prepared to transplant them into larger containers or even a half wine barrel. The container should be at least 24 inches deep and 24 to 30 inches wide, advises the University of Maryland Extension.

Do blueberries do well in containers? ›

Blueberries are an extremely attractive plant and are very well suited to container growing. Blueberries are among the easiest fruits to grow. They are relatively pest and disease free. But they can be finicky about a couple of things.

How do I keep animals from eating my blueberries? ›

The only foolproof prevention is to use an exclusion like bird netting. Bird netting is the most effective way to protect berries from birds. Bird netting is highly effective at excluding birds, but it has difficulties. Early on, I would drape netting directly on the blueberry shrubs.

How do you protect blueberries from birds and squirrels? ›

How to Keep Birds and Squirrels Out of Your Blueberries - YouTube

How do blueberry farmers keep birds away? ›

When it comes to figuring out how to keep birds away from blueberries, some farmers choose to surround blueberry bushes with netting or cages to prevent birds from eating the fruit. Netting must be installed properly to ensure birds can't get too close, or get in below the netting once bushes are covered.

How do I keep rabbits from eating my blueberries? ›

Placing chicken mesh or woven wire fencing around the bush should prevent rabbits from getting to the bushes. Fences need to be at least 2 feet high above the ground so the rabbits cannot jump over the fence.

Videos

1. Blueberry bushes protection improvement for bird netting
(Kevin Wallace)
2. Blueberry Cage 3.0. Stronger Protection for your Blueberries.
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3. Making a blueberry cage!
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4. How to Make the Best DIY Sliding Fruit Cage - to Keep Out Squirrels and Birds
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5. DIY: Build a PVC and Net Structure To Protect your Blueberries From The Birds
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6. Blueberry cage renovations 2020
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