Looking for an inexpensive garden trellis that harnesses the power of reuse for function and beauty? As a devotee of immediate gratification building projects and frugality, I’ve got a few suggestions.
I share a community garden plot with my Trash Backwards co-founder and great friend, Liesl Clark of Pioneering the Simple Life. When we needed a trellis for our first crop of beans a few years back, Liesl’s good friend Pema agreed to build one for us. He took a pile of sticks from Liesl’s woods, a pile of pruned branches from my corkscrew willow, and a few handfuls of screws and built what Liesl refers to as “our crazy tangled-hair trellis” right where we needed it. We thought it would last a single season, but it’s still going strong, shored up by several year’s of bean vines and twine.
I was on my own when I needed a trellis for my own backyard garden bed last summer, but I was lucky enough to have a fresh pile of branches from our willow that made it easy. For my peas, I kept it simple and just stuck single willow branches into the soil, deep enough that they could withstand wind, children, and dogs.
The beans needed something a bit sturdier. I turned three tall branches and some jute twine into a tripod trellis that worked perfectly all summer, with a few small branches added for support as the soil settled and the vines grew heavier. At the end of the season, I pulled it up, stashed it under a sheltering tree, and left it as shelter for visiting winter birds.
Yesterday I dusted the needles and leaves off of the trellis, stuck it back into my garden bed, stuck in a few more small branches, lashed it with new twine, and planted a crop of peas around its legs. I can’t guarantee the peas will succeed, but the trellis is definitely fit for another full year of garden support.
It’s true that branches don’t last forever, but that’s OK by me. In fact, it’s one of the things I love about them – They’re free, compostable, and have a closed-loop life cycle that actually contributes to a healthy earth. Also, they’re beautiful.
A good while back, I snagged an iron headboard from a friend via our local Freecycle group. I anchored its legs into my flower bed with the help of a few bricks, then planted sweet peas under it.
I also got a few painted wood railings from a crib that was no longer safe for babies. Fortunately, my peas don’t care about the width between slats, and they’ve been happy to grow along the rails. I tied a bamboo stake to the end of each rail to act as an anchor into the soil, keeping the painted wood above the ground. So far, the paint hasn’t flaked off; as soon as it looks ready to do that, I’ll strip the rails and refinish them, so that no paint flakes join my soil.
Other Found Objects:
I’ve seen amazing trellises built from old bicycles, tools, and more – We’ve got quite a few ideas in our Trash Backwards database here. If you have a DIY trellis idea that’s not included there, please let me know, or click our “Add Solution” button to send it to us.