For any gardener, one of the biggest frustrations is walking outside to find your beautiful vegetable garden or flowerbed ravaged by insect pests. Tiny creatures like aphids, cabbage loopers, beetles, tomato hornworms, and more can quickly destroy plants or render them unfit to eat. And constantly spraying pesticides isn’t good for your plants or the environment. That’s why more and more green thumbs are turning to protective netting as an organic solution.
Insect-resistant netting acts as a physical barrier to keep pests off your crops while still letting water, airflow, and sunlight through. Made from materials like polyester or polyethylene, the fine mesh holes in netting are small enough to keep bugs out but allow plants to breathe. No need for harsh chemicals! With the right netting in place, you can humanely prevent damage from winged insects looking to munch on your veggies or larvae that want to make a meal of your flowerpetals.
There are many types of netting on the market designed for various gardening needs. Some feature ultraviolet (UV) blocking to increase durability while others have very fine micro mesh holes to exclude tiny invaders like thrips. When choosing netting, you’ll want to consider factors like the pests you need to deter, how long the netting should last, ease of access for tending plants, and more.
In this complete guide, we’ll share our recommendations for the top five insect-resistant plant nettings that offer the best protection. We’ll also discuss how to select the ideal netting based on your garden’s needs and answer some frequently asked questions about using protective barriers. Let’s get started so you can defend your plants from pests and harvest abundant crops this season!
The 5 Best Insect-Resistant Plant Nettings
1. ProtekNet Anti Insect Netting
This polyester netting has a tighter grid structure with holes just .04 inches wide, making it one of the best barriers for small insects like aphids and thrips as well as butterflies. It comes in various widths up to 13 feet and is treated to block UV rays for longevity.
Pros: The very fine mesh keeps out the smallest pests while maintaining air circulation. The UV treatment allows it to withstand a few years outdoors. It’s soft and pliable for easy installation.
Cons: The tiny holes slow airflow more than other options. Not ideal for large pests like cabbage loopers that require wider spacing.
Best Uses: Vegetable gardens plagued by small sucking insects or flowerbeds with issues like thrips. Also effective for sealing out butterflies.
Recommended Products: ProtekNet 80g Anti-Insect Netting, NettingStore ProtekNet .04-inch Mesh
Tips: Use hoops to keep it from resting directly on plants to avoid abrasion. Combine with floating row covers for maximum pest protection.
2. AgroFabric Pro Knitted Insect Netting
This polyethylene material has UV resistance built in and comes in 3 or 4-foot widths. The knitted construction makes it both strong and flexible for easier installation. The holes are approximately 1/5 inch wide.
Pros: Good UV resistance for longevity. Knitted style makes it stretchy to get a tight fit over hoops or frames. Larger holes maintain good airflow.
Cons: Not as effective for excluding tiny insects like thrips or aphids. Requires additional reinforcement in high wind areas.
Best Uses: Protecting vegetable plants prone to cabbage loopers, beetles, caterpillars. Also good for small fruit trees.
Recommended Products: AgroFabric Pro Knitted Insect Netting, Berry Protection Solutions Knitted Netting
Tips: Use plastic landscape staples instead of metal ones to avoid creating tears in the material.
3. Floating Row Covers
These very lightweight covers float directly on top of plants, allowing insect pollination. Many feature insulation to protect against cold. Mesh sizes vary but .3 to .6 mil works for insects.
Pros: Direct contact insulates plants. Conforms to the shape of plants and raised beds. Easy access by lifting sections.
Cons: Requires supporting hoops as plants grow taller. Not as durable for multiple seasons.
Best Uses: Cold protection early in growing season. Insect protection for low-growing beds of greens, root crops.
Recommended Products: Agfabric Floating Row Cover, DeWitt Floating Row Covers
Tips: Remove and store the fabric after temperatures warm and poke small holes if bees are needed for pollination.
4. Gardeneer By Nature Headlock HDPE Netting
This polyethylene netting has reinforced ribbing for added durability even in wind and storms. The square mesh holes are approximately 1/5 inch wide. It’s naturally resistant to UV rays.
Pros: The ribbing makes it very sturdy and reinforced. HDPE material handles weather extremes well. Mesh allows adequate airflow.
Cons: Heavier than other options so a bit trickier to install. Not as effective for tiny insects.
Best Uses: Tall crops like tomatoes, beans or fruit trees. Windy areas. Organic pest solution for large gardens.
Recommended Products: Gardeneer By Nature Headlock Netting, EasyGardener Treated Headlock Netting
Tips: Use a taller support frame and stake it well since it’s heavier than other fabrics.
5. Exclusion Netting for Fruit Trees
With smaller holes than normal netting, this blocks small fruit flies and insects. Often features zippered access doors.
Pros: Tight weave keeps out fruit flies, wasps, and bees. Access doors make harvesting easier. Durable polyester or nylon material.
Cons: Requires more reinforcement to support the heavier fabric. Small holes limit airflow.
Best Uses: Protecting fruit trees and bushes from pests. Also works for wine grape plants.
Recommended Products: Pure Beauty Farms Tree Netting, Natural Area Pest Control Fruit Netting
Tips: Monitor temperature levels on hot days. Supplement with bee pollination if needed.
How to Select the Right Insect Netting
Now that you know the top recommended nettings, how do you decide what’s best for your own garden? Here are factors to consider:
- Types of plants – If protecting delicate lettuces and greens, go for lightweight floating row covers. For fruit trees, exclusion netting is ideal. Match the netting breathability to the needs of that crop.
- Pest problems – Identify which insects are attacking your plants and choose a netting hole size small enough to block them. For example, aphids require micro mesh fabric.
- Coverage area – Measure your planting space and purchase enough netting to generously cover the area without gaps. It’s better to have excess than not enough.
- Durability needs – If wanting multi-season use, select fabrics with UV resistance and reinforced knitting or ribbing. Delicate floating covers tear easier.
- Access needs – Zippered netting is easiest for reaching in to tend and harvest plants. Open netting requires temporarily lifting sections.
- Airflow – Ensure the netting allows adequate airflow and light penetration for plant health. Very fine mesh can inhibit this.
- Installation – Consider support options to keep netting erect above plants. More lightweight netting requires fewer reinforcement hoops.
Choose netting with the right balance of insect exclusion, durability, and ease of use for your specific gardening purposes. And supplement with other organic pest prevention methods like beneficial insects, diatomaceous earth, or horticultural oils for the best protection. Let’s now dive into some frequently asked questions about plant netting.
Common Questions about Insect-Resistant Netting
How long does insect netting last?
It depends on the quality and type of material used, as well as the UV resistance built in. On average, lightweight polyester or polyethylene netting lasts 1 to 3 years. Options with UV blockers and reinforced knitting can last 3 to 5 years or longer.
Should insect netting touch plants?
It’s best to avoid having the netting directly touch plant leaves and stems. The constant abrasion of the fabric can damage and stress foliage. Use hoops or frames to create space between the netting and plants.
Can plants get too hot under insect netting?
Excessive heat buildup is a risk, especially with polyethylene netting on hot sunny days. Ensure the netting allows adequate airflow. Or look for shade netting that offers a light filtration factor of 50% for cooling.
Does insect netting need to be completely sealed to work?
While it’s ideal to seal up all edges of the netting to prevent pest entry, it’s not always practical in home gardens. Just overlap netting as much as possible and secure the edges well with stakes, sandbags, or soil.
Can I leave insect netting on plants year round?
It’s not recommended. Removing netting over the winter helps extend its lifespan by protecting it from severe weather. Store netting properly when not in use. Reapply early each growing season.
How do I access plants under the protective netting?
Netting with zippered access doors makes entry easy without removing the barrier. You can also create openings using Velcro, ties, or clips. For open-ended netting, carefully lift sections to reach in temporarily.
Does insect netting reduce the amount of watering plants need?
No, your plants still need adequate moisture just as they would without netting. While the netting does affect airflow, it doesn’t restrict water from reaching plants through rainfall or irrigation.
Can rainfall penetrate insect netting?
Yes, the mesh holes in most insect netting are fine enough to exclude bugs but still allow water from rain or sprinklers to penetrate. However, very heavy rains may pool a bit on the netting before draining through.
Can wind damage plant netting?
Strong winds can whip lightweight netting around and cause tears, as well as bend or break support frames. Some netting options like Headlock are more wind-resistant. Extra sturdy reinforcement and staking can also help withstand windy conditions.
Enjoy a Pest-Free Garden With Insect Netting
Adding protective netting is an easy yet highly effective organic method to prevent crop damage and loss from winged pests and crawling insects. From sturdy fortress-like fruit tree netting to nearly invisible floating row covers, there are many options tailored to different gardening needs.
We hope these recommendations for the top plant nettings, along with tips for choosing and using them properly, will help you defend your garden from invaders. Be sure to take time to install the netting correctly and care for it over the seasons. Pairing netting with other organic pest control methods will give you the best results. With just a bit of strategic planning, you can outsmart insects and enjoy the bountiful harvest you deserve!