Picture this – you’ve just planted your garden, and you’re standing back to admire your hard work when your phone chimes. You step back from your perfectly manicured rows of seedlings and check the screen – it’s a weather alert. There’s a late-season frost coming in tonight.
Oh no! All that hard work, wasted?
Not so fast – you don’t need to panic (yet).
A garden cloche is an invaluable tool that gardeners can use to protect their fragile crops should a late or early frost threatens to kill their plants. Cloches aren’t just used for this purpose, either – they can also be used to provide ornamental interest, protect from pests and fungal disease, and so much more. Find more tips on how to get your garden ready for winter here.
You don’t have to run to the store to buy a new cloche, but you can instead consider some of these unique garden cloche ideas to really take your gardening up a notch.
20 Unique Garden Cloche Ideas
1. The Traditional Cloche
The traditional cloche looks like a large glass bell and fits easily over your plants. These tend to be enlarged and perfectly shaped to provide your plants with the protection they need. They can sometimes be purchased online or from your local nursery or gardening supply store – but you may also be able to find some second-hand on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
2. Empty Plastic Jugs
Have some empty plastic jugs lying around? Whether they’re old milk gallons or cartons of juice, you can use these to make your own cloches. Although they may not look the most attractive, this is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to protect your plants. All you need to do is cut a jug in half and pop it over your plants!
3. Dollar Tree Cloche
Don’t be afraid to get thrifty with your clothes! Head over to the Dollar Tree (or whatever dollar or bargain store you might have in your area) and pick up some of their inexpensive, premade cloches. It will take all the work and hassle out of building a cloche – and be super cost-effective, too.
4. Glass Bottle Cloche
Similar to the plastic jug cloche idea, if you have a few glass bottles on hand, you can use them to make your own cloches, too. Simply cut a glass bottle in half and slip it over your plants, using this glass cutting set. It’s perfect for cold and temperate regions.
5. Chicken Wire Cloche
When you’re trying to keep animal pests (including chickens!) away from your plants, perhaps nothing works as effectively as a little bit of chicken wire. All you need to do is wrap the wire around your plants and secure it so chickens, ducks, and other kinds of birds and animals can’t peck and scratch at your plants.
6. Tupperware Cloche
If you’ve found that your kitchen cupboards are totally cluttered with extra Tupperware, you might want to give this unique cloche idea a try. Simply slide a clear plastic food container over your plant, customizing the size of your food container to the height of your plant. Just make sure you remove it during the day, as the sun warms things up, so you don’t accidentally cook your plants! If you’re in an upcycling mood, then why not look at these 20 Upcycled Seed Starter Pots.
7. Water Dispenser Cloche
If you work in an office, there’s a good chance that you have a stockpile of old water coolers that are no longer functional. Whether they’re cracked or stained or damaged in some other way, it might be worth asking if you can take a few home. Repurposed water dispensers can easily be used as cloches by cutting out the bottom and flipping them upside down over your plants.
8. Make a DIY Greenhouse
This can be done at any size or scale, serving as a wonderful solution for keeping your plants safe when a late or early frost threatens their longevity. All you need to do is use plastic posts and some plastic sheeting to cover up your plants. Make sure the edges are secured down, though, so frost can get in underneath. Find your favorite from our DIY Greenhouse Plans.
9. Greenhouse Film
The greenhouse film can be used to create a flexible cloche of any shape, size, or format. Use plastic that is thicker than typical builder’s plastic of 4 or 6 mm. It will be more rugged and heavy-duty than regular plastic and also be completely translucent – rather than the milky white color you might find with traditional “clear” plastic sheeting options.
10. Bell Jars
Have some extra bell jars on hand? Flip them upside down and use them to protect your plants. These can guard against pests as well as cold or otherwise harsh weather conditions while still giving your plants the light they need to grow.
11. Use Binder Clips to Keep Sides Down
You don’t need to stake the sides of your plastic cloche. If you’re using a cloche with flexible sides that might billow up whenever the wind blows, you can keep them down and securely fastened by using binder clips. Binder clips will keep everything trim and tight without costing a ton of extra money. When it’s time to take your cloche off your plants, all you have to do is pop them off!
12. Make a Fairy Garden Cloche
This cloche idea is more decorative than functional. If you have an old cloche lying around that you don’t want to use – or perhaps even a second-hand item like a wine glass that you can repurpose – you can flip it upside and fill it with miniature plants and decorations for a whimsical, enchanting indoor display. Or you can buy a ready-made one like this from Etsy.
13. Build a Squirrel-Proof Cloche
Are squirrels driving you – and your plants! – crazy? Any of the wire cloches we mention in this article will do the job just fine, but you may want to purchase a special squirrel-proof cloche so you don’t have to worry about them flipping your cloches over.
These are traditionally shaped like domes and made out of steel-framed wire. They often have spiked feet so you can easily secure them in the ground, too.
14. Try a Folding Cloche
If you don’t have a lot of storage space, you might want to consider using a folding cloche, like this one. These can be purchased online or at your favorite gardening supply stores, and often, they can be reconfigured or manipulated to serve as protective row tunnels, too.
15. Adjustable Extension Cloches
An adjustable extension cloche is another store-bought option you might want to consider for your plants. These are easy to customize to make rabbit-proof and to protect large plants, like sprawling shrubs.
16. Wire Trash Bin Cloche
Of course, this idea won’t be as effective if you’re trying to keep a frost off your plants. But if it’s pests, particularly herbivorous pests, that are giving you grief, you may want to try sliding a wire trash can over your seedlings. It will keep nibbling pests like rodents away for sure!
17. Use Conifer Branches
Don’t have any rigid plastic tubing you can use to make your own DIY cloche or row tunnel? No worries – just rely on Mother Nature. You can bend branches to create a frame around your plants, then use plastic to cover the branches. Genius!
18. Build a Water Wall
A water wall cloche is one that contains a series of interconnected plastic tubes, each of which holds water. The theory here is simple – the sunlight warms the water during the day and radiates heat to the plants. It also retains heat at night so that cold damage can be prevented.
19. Try a Paper Cloche
You can even use a cloche made out of paper! Paper will provide protection from cold weather without letting light pass through. You can use brown paper bags or translucent waxed paper caps. These provide protection while still letting some light through, a benefit you won’t experience with paper bag cloches.
20. Row Tunnels
A final way you can protect your plants with a cloche is by making a tunnel cloche. These are often used by gardeners to extend the growing season for their plants in colder climates. Essentially, they consist of long frames covered with either acrylic plastic panels or plastic sheeting. You can even get them ready-made on Amazon. They can also help keep pests out, but if your goal is pest prevention, just make sure you remove these covers once it gets hot – that way, you can avoid cooking your plants.
Keep Your Cloche Close By
Whether you live in a cold climate and want to be able to grow freely without having to worry about the threat of frost or freezing temperatures or you simply need to protect your plants from heavy precipitation and pests, a garden cloche is a crucial garden tool.
Cloches make it easy for you to control a vast array of garden conditions. With these unique garden cloche ideas, you’ll find that you become a much more effective gardener – and likely, more creative and productive, too!