Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trellis, Wattle and Other Rustic Constructions

Making Improvisational Carpentry structures in the garden can be as simple or as complex as the builder chooses. The basic idea is to use what is at hand or can be collected from discards.

Uprights can be wood or metal. I use rebar because this is the south and termites destroy many types of wood before a season is over. Flexible green sapling wood can be used to weave between the uprights because it doesn't touch the ground. The life of the wattle or trellis will depend on the wood used. Willow is popular. I use redbud because it is plentiful here, as are pecan sprouts. I've used pecan sprouts as uprights, but they either were eaten off at the ground by termites or the wind blew them down because they weren't far enough into the ground. The beginnings of an early wattle fence I started is below. Made of pecan saplings, it didn't last long.

You can find many ideas by typing the words: trellis, wattle, rustic
into a search engine.

Above and below, you can see the joints tied with garden twine when the trellis for the Cypress vine was new in July, 2008. Redwood sprouts weave in and out of rebar posts. If there had been twice as many posts, the weavers would have stayed in place without slipping but I wanted a see-through effect with just enough support for the cypress vine.

Vine Fence viewed over Herb Garden

Cypress vine
By the end of August, the vine had covered the trellis top.

Esperanza Row with Rabbit Tobacco
Esperanza and rabbit tobacco in the rustic trellis bed.
A structure can be as simple as a twig support for floppy flowers.

Wattle can designate an edge; here heart pine and oak prunings.


  1. wow - these are great! I'd never even heard the term 'wattle' before. We have lots of found wood here; I'll have to give these a try...

  2. I so want a living wattle fence, so an earnest chat with a friend who runs a nursery is in order. Your garden just radiates joy, Nell Jean. It's always fun to read your posts, and see what your garden looks like.

  3. Those are very pretty with the vines growing on them. I like the idea to hold the floppy flowers. I am going to give that a try this summer. Blanket flowers are on my list!
    I would like to build a trellis, but I need the right type of branches. It would be a search.

  4. I have just got to make one of those this summer. LOL!
    The cypress vine looks so natural on it.

  5. I was fascinated by this blog about living wattles

  6. There is no right and wrong way, except that it is best to make sure that wind is not going to blow away your handiwork.

    Diana, thank you for the link to the Irish willow fence. I've seen all kinds of willow construction in magazines before, even another living fence.

    I noticed he called them 'withies' (withy)-- Daddy Mack said 'withe' which I guess is the more modern term for a long willow twig.

  7. I have really enjoyed this post and the one previous. Using natural material to create beautiful supports. Here, Ocotillo canes make living fences and some people use the wooden ribs from dead saguaros to create natural supports.

  8. Nell Jean, I just looked through your other posts on these 'structures' you've made...they are really interesting. Clever. And, eye-appealing. I love your photos with your garden in bloom next to or wrapped upon these structures. Very cool! It looks like a lot of hard work went into making them.

  9. Oooh, I do like the looks of those trellises.

  10. I love temporary structures! Watersprouts from winter pruning make especially straight building materials. Also, I've heard that roses might root when their cuttings are put in the ground to make a small fence. Worth a try, no? Your open trellis is absolutely lovely!


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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