Friday, April 27, 2012

Making Bentwood Garden Structures

About a year ago, I discovered the book Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates & Fences by Jim Long. I loved the idea, but didn't have enough wood (or time!) to implement any of his plans.
But the idea stuck with me, and when I saw the brush pile my husband made after pruning the apple and maple trees (and clearing out a ton of brush out back), I knew I could finally bring some of those ideas to fruition. 
Raw Materials!

I was a little nervous that I was biting off more than I could chew, but once I actually got going, the projects turned out to be really easy! Here's what I made first:

Not bad for a first try, I think! My front garden is very "blah", but I think this accents it nicely. I plan to grow scarlet runner beans up it this summer (a variety I'd never even heard of until I read Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy - another book I highly recommend!) This fence is held together with galvanized deck screws, and supported from behind with steel fence posts (the three main uprights are held to the fence posts with deck screws). I also set the three main uprights on top of concrete pavers, which hopefully will make the fence last a little longer than if I had simply sunk them into the ground). This project took less than three hours to put together.

Excited by this first success, I decided to try another bentwood project (here's what it should look like this summer - this is the picture that gave me the idea, from Green Renaissance)

Here's what my version looks like (and remember, it's only April, so there's nothing growing on it yet. I'm planning to grow more scarlet runner beans on this, so imagine lots of green foliage and pretty little red flowers):
For this project, I don't plan on it lasting more than a year, so I just sunk the poles around 8 inches into the ground and tied them together on top with twine. My husband put a ridgepole along the top (it was a little too high for me to do comfortably), and I'm planning to put two more support poles along the sides, to give it a little more stability and to give the beans something to twine around.

Meanwhile, there's still a lot of wood in that brush pile out back, and I could use some tepees for the peas, and tomato supports, and an arbor would look really good, I think . . .
This post is part of the Farmgirl Friday bloghop.


  1. Oh, I'm so impressed! They turned out very nicely. Good job!

  2. Wow, love this structures! Great job! I have been wanting to try something like this myself. I want to add some small fence pieces around my herb garden to keep the chickens out.

  3. GREAT JOB! We have a lawn care business and wind up w/ a lot of brush all the time. I've got to start saving some of the good pieces! ha ha! We need to build a trellis. OOOOhhhh the fun.

  4. Brenda - I was thinking the same thing, but to keep our dogs out. They like to sun themselves on top of my chamomile plants!

    Lana - I am so jealous! All of that free brush! Although maybe it's better I don't have access to that - I'd get nothing else done!

  5. I have always wanted to try this. I love yours.

  6. I love your front fence! Do you have any update photos?

  7. Sadly, it only lasted a few years. I do have more small trees to clear this spring, though . . .

  8. We bought a Dry Cut Metal Saw at Northern Tool for cutting the studs and track. Many people use a high-speed cut-off saw with an abrasive disk but I found this to be very crude. It uses brut force to burrow through the steel with a thick, rough disk. Lots of sparks. Metal is literally melted through.lattice fence