ERMAGERD! These vines are out of control!
Don’t worry! I am ready to hook you up with some spectacular ideas on getting those vines up off the ground. Now, of course, you can always go out and buy traditional tomato cages for a modest charge, or you can pay premium prices for the trellis hand-forged in steel by some blacksmith in a remote country. Or, maybe we could get creative and make our own from stuff we already own (or can pick from someone’s trash on the curb).
If you’re looking for trellises that are more large-scale, maybe for market gardening, you really need to check out the links in this post for some great ideas curated by Isis Loran. My post leans more toward the hobby or small gardener’s need for trellises.
My first example is really simple and it was free. I trash-picked a huge but very plain, skinny, ugly-wood frame and dragged it home, because, dude, I love big frames, and I love FREE. I then carefully picked a decent sheet—only one tear—of semi-rusty chicken wire out of a pile of stuff we have on the farm.
(Um, wear gloves.)
Then I laid out the chicken wire as flat as I could, and weighed it down with the frame. I wrapped the chicken wire around the frame, stapling it to the back of the frame on every loop. I clipped off the extra wire
that stuck out and might scratch, and then used needlenose pliers to bend any edges in toward itself.
It takes more time to write out what I did than it did to actually create this masterpiece.
Now, I just have it propped against the deck next to the planter, but this has so much possibility. What if you had one of these that you hung up on the deck or from a tree branch, and trained the vines up it as a living wall?
Ooh! What if you had three of them, screwed them upright together like a folding screen, and trained morning glories up the frames?
No, wait! What if you had several large frames you could train into a walk-in privacy screen for your outdoor shower!!! Or an outdoor room in general?! (My kids would LOVE that!) Ok, now I’m getting out of control, but you get the idea. It’s so exciting!!
What else can we do?!
Ohhhh, you are going to flip out!
How about that old busted patio umbrella frame as a trellis?
Well, how convenient, our old patio umbrella got picked up in the wind and slammed on the ground one too many times, so I have one right here.
I admit, it’s not the majestic umbrella trellis I envisioned, but it’s much more practical.
Lemme tell you, cattle fencing is not as easy to manipulate as chicken wire.
You could tie twine or wrap floral wire, if you wanted, for a similar look. I just used zip ties to attach the fencing to the open umbrella frame.
The umbrella lies on its side as if we split it in half down the length of the pole. I think it’s less likely to catch wind and blow over. I set it up in the garden in the rain this weekend and discovered that what I thought was a grand volunteer zucchini plant was really cantaloupe. That’s neat! I’ve never grown cantaloupe before! That rogue seed must have been in the compost.
It’s going to be perfect for shading young vegetables in the garden while also providing my climbers with some extra room. You’d probably want to secure it to some fencing with some zip ties or a stake or something, just in case. Wouldn’t want it flying off or anything, but couldn’t you just lose it!?
I already had the materials, so it’s essentially free.
The umbrella fabric isn’t going to waste–I’m going to sew them into the cutest outdoor throw pillows. You don’t need anything but a simple straight stitch for the sides you cut. Why fight the seams they already have? Do you know anyone with triangular pillows? Start a trend in your neighborhood. What do you think?
Here are some other ideas for creating your own trellis:
Roll some cattle fencing and stand it on end.
Old garden gates and fence doors
That disc out back that you use for drying clothes
Old bed springs from a mattress (without the stuffing)
Tree branches woven and secured with twine
Chicken wire in any condition stapled to any frame
Chain link fencing
And old ladder (with chicken wire attached, if desired)
Racks from dead appliances
Clothes drying rack
A bench you no longer sit on
An old swingset
Scaffolding (I don’t know. Maybe you have this lying around…)
Shutters, especially if they’re missing a lot of slats
The frame from that 10 x 10 Pop-Up Tent that some windstorm warped when it slammed it into the ground. Does this happen to all of you? You’d think I’d learn to anchor it down better.
What about this common metal table top?
I remember trash picking it thirty minutes from home, cramming it in my Monte Carlo and driving home with my seat jacked. I’ve moved it twice. I just couldn’t throw it away. I’ve been hoping to come across a random sturdy table base, but so far, no luck. So I’m considering using it as a makeshift free trellis in the garden for beans. Or maybe as a wall in the bedspring trellis house.
I’ve been itching to somehow-magically-obtain one of those cattle feeder-ring things.
Imagine turning it on its side, training jasmine or something luscious-smelling to grow up the sides, and then using it as a grand entrance to your garden.
If you can espalier some gardenia on one of these babies, I expect a personal invitation to visit your garden!
That’s what I’ve got for now. Coming soon, we’ll be talking about more ways to make your garden awesome, including ideas for plant containers, ideas for beautifying your garden, and how to use up all that awesome produce you’re…um…producing!
Talk to you soon!
What do you have that you’d like to re-purpose? Throw it at me in the comments! I want to see just how many great ideas we can come up with!
Show me what you’ve made—send me pictures of your trellises to Erica@owningburtonfarm.com