The fun in gardening is to utilize what is around you, and how you can create beautiful works of art that are functional. This is especially worthwhile when you're choosing materials that can be recycled or "upcycled" when creating structure. Much of the recycled materials are metal or plastic that can be found around your yard, house, inside, flea markets, etc. Of course is better to use Natural materials such as wood fiber in making trellises and arbors, but this post is directed to those that want to recycle materials as well as use natural materials in the garden. Below is a list of those materials to use in creating fencing, trellises, and arbors that are functional in the garden, but also create a sense of artistry and decoration.
1. Wattle fencing: Many gardeners trellis vining fruits with wire fencing, while others use wood framing. Of course natural materials is the best choice. I recommend the Wattle method in which wood has been woven into fencing. Wattle fencing can be used for a trellis, arbor, or raised bed.
According to Inspiration Green on wattle fencing, "The upright stakes are sometimes called sales and the saplings called 'weavers'. Hazel, willow, sweet chestnut, plum, forsythia or any supple, long, straight, slender saplings make good weavers. Newly cut, green wood is best and easiest. Willow is an exception as it can be soaked to become more supple. Use thin, long branches -or- larger saplings that are cut down the center (cleft) as 'weavers'...The saplings you choose should be long enough to weave around at least three stakes (preferably more) for stability. The weavers are woven around the 'sales' like basketry. The simplest weave would be to weave each row of saplings alternating around the stakes, the next row is woven on the opposite side of the stake from the sapling below it. Each sapling row should be firmly pressed down".
Besides wattle fencing, other natural materials or recycled materials to use for constructing trellises and arbors include:
2. Crutches. Actually there is a pair of crutches at my house, and I have always wondered what to do with them. And I have considered using them in the garden. In the picture here, I just so happened to come across a picture of a gardener's usage of crutches in the garden.
3. Bicycle wheels. I find it very easy to accumulate bicycles wheels when families buy several bicycles at one time for everyone to ride. With plenty of wheels, you can create a vertical structure in the garden. There are many examples of gardeners using bicycle wheels in the garden, and below is a picture of the best example I could find.
4. Recycled metal bars, poles, or gates like in the picture below. And, much fencing found around my neck of the woods, is a lot of old metal wire like bed springs. So this is another useful material for a trellis structure to grow vining crops.
6. Tobacco sticks & wood posts can be found in old barns, and sometimes you will come across a farmer friend that is willing to let you borrow or have their old tobacco sticks. For years I have used tobacco sticks or wood posts to create trellis structures. Below are pictures of the past ways I have used tobacco sticks and wood posts in my gardens.
7. Wooden ladders are perfect for creating a natural trellis and arbor. I recommend looking further into ladder trellis gardening, because there are some beautiful little creations out there. Oh lord, I'm starting to sound like Bob Ross (I watched a lot of Bob Ross this winter and created Bob Ross inspired paintings you can see here: Holiday gift paintings.)
8. Wood Pallets of course are very useful in the garden.
9. Even a recycled water drum that has the metal cage on the outside will grow a vining plant. Two years ago, I grew Luffa gourds on a water drum which used the metal cage to vine. Look in your shed, look in the woods, look around your yard, house, or other scrap/junk yards for recycled materials that will allow you to assemble a trellis or arbor structure.
10. Bamboo is a durable material when dried. And usually bamboo is plentiful considering even in Kentucky where there is cold winters, we have bamboo growing invasive in places around creeks.
Bamboo is great for creating small trellis structures. I have used bamboo in the past as a natural material to trellis peas, but the bamboo was cut early and had not been given any time to dry out, so I recommend this step before using bamboo.
11. Golf clubs or any metal pole.
Of course, there are many more materials that work for creating a trellis or arbor in your garden. It's up to to explore your surroundings and to be unique.