Looking Up: Garden Trellises From Scrap Metal

24 June 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles


Garden trellises are all the rage. They are both practical and decorative, making them a common feature in backyards and gardens. While you can buy trellises at any home improvement store, many gardeners prefer to build their own trellises to fit the style and design of their yard and garden. If you'd  like to give it a try, visit your local scrap metal recycling center for supplies and inspiration. The scrap metal yard contains everything from metal bed frames, and bicycle frames to metal display racks that can be used for garden trellises.

Bicycle Wheels

Bicycle wheels can be used in a variety of ways to create a trellis for climbing flowers or veggies. Try making a tower by attaching a bicycle wheel to the both the bottom and top of a tall pole. Use a small bicycle wheel from a children's bike at the top and a large adult bike wheel at the bottom to give this trellis a tapered appearance, similar to commercial bean trellises sold in gardening shops. String garden twine from the spokes of the top wheel to the corresponding spokes at the bottom wheel.

Plant climbing flowers or veggies around the perimeter of the bottom wheel and watch as they climb the trellis. Pole beans, runner beans, tall peas and other vining plants can be trained to climb the trellis. For bright color, try scarlet runner beans, morning glories or climbing nasturtiums.

Swing Sets

Old metal swing sets create a magical trellis in the garden. You can paint the swing set in bright colors for a whimsical garden, or leave the metal as is for a weathered look. Place the swing set over the garden bed and either attach vegetable netting between the legs or make a simple mesh net on your own with garden twine. To make your own netting:

  1. Run twine between the legs of the swing set  at 4- to 6-inch intervals. This creates the horizontal lines to the mesh.
  2. Begin at the top of the swing set and run twine (spaced at the same distance as your horizontal lines) downward to the bottom line and tie it off securely.
  3. Repeat by running new twine every 4- to 6-inches until you have created a mesh with 4- to 6-inch squares.

Alternately, you can suspend twine from the top of the swing set  and anchor it to the ground with garden stakes. Single lines with garden twine are suitable for training tomato plants with one main stem or pole beans. Vining vegetables like cucumbers, peas and squash prefer a mesh.

Metal Headboards

Vintage metal headboards are often ornate, adding charm to the garden. Tuck these found treasures into garden nooks or at the back of your flower bed as a focal point of your yard. Any climbing flower will wind its way around the metal, but climbing roses put on an amazing show. Consider painting the headboard pure white to show off red roses or lend a romantic feel to pink roses.

For yellow or orange  roses, paint the headboard purple to show off the color of the roses. For old-fashioned wild roses, leave the headboard unpainted and let it weather to enhance the illusion of the passage of time.

Grates, Gates and Fence Pieces

If you are looking for scrap metal trellises that don't take a lot of work to make, look for old oven or sewer grates, metal gates and fence pieces. These already contain all the features your garden trellis needs (something for the plants to hold onto) and can be erected with a few garden stakes.

You may want to clean them up and add a coat of paint, but your plants won't mind if you leave them as is. For a quick trellis, stand the grate or gate in the garden and drive two garden posts into the soil  — one on each end of the trellis. Secure the metal to the garden stake with wire or plastic zip ties.

Don't be afraid to experiment and use items that appeal to you to create one-of-a-kind trellises for your climbing flowers and vegetables. For a whimsical garden, paint them on bright colors such as purple, yellow and blue — or go traditional and stick with white or black. Remember your garden is an extension of your home and should reflect your personality and style.