Turn a Castoff Treasure Into a Trellis!

The best trellises don’t simply support vining plants; they also add visual pizzazz to a garden. If you’d like an out-of-the-ordinary touch for your landscape, whether you’re growing flowers or ornamental edibles, you just might find the perfect decorative treasure in your attic, garage, or garden shed. Consider iron garden gates, iron window bars, multi-paned window (minus the glass, of course), old doors, old wooden ladders, brass or iron headboards or footboards, and shutters.

All vines grow in one of four ways. Depending on which type you have and the structure you’ve found to support them, you may need to make a few adjustments. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Clinging vines. These hangers-on send out rootlets or “holdfasts” that latch on to any surface they encounter. Just plant them at the base of your chosen support, and stand back and watch ‘em take off.
  • Scrambling vines. This category lacks any support mechanism, so  you’ll need to attach them to your trellis. If you’re using an open-work structure use twine or twist ties to fasten the growing stems to various uprights and cross pieces. In the case of a flat surface insert screws or nails, and tie the stems to them.
  • Tendril vines. These grab on to their supports using little shoots that grow out from the main stem. If your trellis has plenty of openings, surrounded by slender pieces, this type of vine should perform well without any special help on your part. To customize shutters, doors, or other flat surfaces, attach a piece of nylon netting or lengths of twine for the plants to climb on.
  • Twining vines. This type of vine does exactly what their name implies: They wind themselves around their supports as they grow. For these guys, your action plan is exactly the same as the one described for tendril vines.

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