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Trellises serve an important function in the garden. They can be completely utilitarian or they can be a work of art. The best part is that with a little ingenuity, they can cost pennies or even be free. They can be assembled in minutes or toiled away year after year to become an intricate masterpiece. I love re-purposing things I already have. I love it even more when it is something aged and beautiful and it is given new life.
A great example is this wooden ladder. It may not be beautiful, but it does have some charm. Mostly it serves a purpose. As a ladder, it’s days were over. The bottom rung pivoted and the other rungs creaked under a small person’s weight. Now it lives it’s life trellising gourds and pumpkins. With pumpkins on the side with the larger steps, I can frequently rest the growing pumpkins on the steps to take weight off the vine. The little shelf could be used for some sort of decor or even a small drip irrigation bucket as long as it’s sturdy enough.
When using a ladder for a trellis, make sure that the feet are planted into the ground a bit. Once it has foliage on it, it tends to catch the wind. A strong wind could knock it over, ripping the plant up by the roots.
After a long, hard winter it’s often easy to find branches that have fallen under the weight of the snow. These branches are excellent trellises. You can use them to create a teepee or as a structure to attach chicken wire or twine. The best part about these trellises is the natural feel and the free factor.
By cutting or snapping the branches, you can customize them into whatever size and shape you need. Another added bonus is the bark. It creates a rough texture for tendrils to grab hold of.
Pallets are available almost anywhere and you can sometimes find them for free. Either staked into the ground with a 2×4 or made into a triangle like shown in the picture below, they make a great trellis for your shorter growing vines.
Some caution should be used when implementing pallets in the garden. Be sure that the pallets you are using are heat treated and not chemically treated. They will be marked with HT or MB. MB stands for methyl bromide, a chemical that is not food safe. HT stands for heat treated. Heat treated pallets are safe around edible plants.
Hog & Cattle Panels
Hog and cattle panels are great garden trellises because they are sturdy with a grid built in. Tall panels can be used to create an arch between two beds. The way that they are setup means they will support each other’s weight. These tall panels are great for beans that frequently grow very tall. You can reach the topmost ones from inside the arch. Short rows of panels can be used for short crop like snow peas. These look great grown as a border around raised beds.
Have you discovered a great free or low cost trellis system? I’d love to hear what it is. I’m always looking for new and exciting ideas. If you are working on setting up your first garden, be sure to check out Garden Design: More Than Just Raised Beds and Setting Up a Veggie Garden in the Backyard.
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