Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How To Build A Rustic Twig Trellis

On the weekend my husband cut down some dead branches from our willow tree (the kind that has pussy willows) in the back yard. He also cut down a birch tree in the side yard as it was dying at the top.  A man drove by and asked for the wood, which we gladly gave him. That however left us with several piles of brush. While waiting for a friend to come pick them up for his burn pile I had an idea.
I have been greatly inspired lately by Gayla Trail's book "Grow Great Grub:Organic Food From Small Spaces", where she outlines how it is possible to grow your own food in your backyard or on your deck or balcony, no matter how small of an area you have. She uses found materials to build supports for her climbing peas and beans and I intended to do the same with some of the branches. However, upon looking at the branches I realized that many of them were quite straight and sturdy, and I remembered having seen a trellis built out of similar materials in a magazine. I had time, tools, and materials so I went to it and built a lovely rustic trellis for my pea vines.
To make your own trellis you will need:
Several straight sturdy branches, about 4 inches around.
Several thinner, more flexible twigs and branches for weaving
Nails long enough to hold both sizes of twigs together
Utility knife
Step 1 was to sort through the brush and pick out the straightest and sturdiest branches, along with thinner more flexible ones. My pile of branches included both green and dead wood and I used the dead wood for the supports and the green wood for weaving as it is more flexible and will dry and hold its shape.

Step 2. Using the knife, remove side twigs, loose bark and leaves from all branches

Step 3. Lay out your support branches on the ground, 5 or 6 inches apart

Step 4. Taking one of the slimmer twigs, start at one side and weave the twig over and under the support branches. At this point you can begin nailing your weaving twigs to the support branches, or you can complete your weaving and then do all the of the nailing. I prefer to weave and then nail, so as to easily correct any mistakes.

Step 5. Starting at the bottom of your trellis, nail the weaving twigs to the support branches. If your nail goes all the way  through both branches, be sure to bend it down on the back side for safety's sake. You don't need to nail the branches every time they cross, two or three nails per row is fine.

Step 6. Continue weaving and nailing until your trellis is filled in and your are happy with the way it looks. Add even smaller twigs or some dried grapevine to fill in any large gaps, or leave it as is.

Step 7. Carefully lift your trellis into an upright position and make sure no nails are sticking out in the back. Carry your trellis and place in your garden wherever you want your climbing plants to be. Train your plants to climb the trellis as they grow.

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