I think a vegetable garden should be functional first, but also pretty if possible. I’ve been working on making my own garden art with found materials. We save money over buying something ready-made, and our garden art reflects our own distinctive personality – like this funky and functional bike wheel trellis.
Chef Iggy and I are dedicated cyclists. Some might say obsessed. We have quite a collection of road and mountain bikes, and our bike shed kind of dominates our urban garden. Sadly, a few months ago our neighborhood bike shop closed, but as they were shutting down they let me take home a collection of assorted size bike wheels.
These were old wheels, not practical for riding. But I discovered they were perfect for a bike wheel trellis for our green beans.
I’m a very practical person, so I tend to demand that my “art” also be useful. At first I wanted to build some type of sculpture-type thingie with the bike wheels but I wasn’t sure what the purpose would be, or where to put it. Then, when we put in our latest small bed, I realized the wheels could be mounted on the fence behind to act as a trellis. Artsy and practical! It was a win-win.
I chose the best five out of the eight wheels I had, looking for variety of size and color. I laid out a few test designs on the ground in front of the bed and eyeballed them to guesstimate what they would look like on the fence.
Once I had a design I liked, I pulled in Chef Iggy to figure out the hardware.
I didn’t want the wheels to spin, otherwise they could chop off little tendrils reaching into the trellis. I also wanted them to be firmly attached to the fence, which we couldn’t reach from behind. We had to figure out a way to mount them from the front.
Chef Iggy came up with a clever mounting plan using a 4″ carriage bolt to hold the wheel, then screwing a washer and nut on the bolt to hold the wheel tight. He sank the bolt through a 5″ x 5″ block of one-inch pressure treated lumber so that the bolt stuck out the front of the block.
Then we simply placed the blocks where we wanted the wheels, and screwed them to the fence with two deck screws. Slide the wheel on the bolt sticking out the front, then add the washer and seal with the nut. We tightened the nut until the bike hub sunk a bit into the pressure treated block. that way it won’t spin.
Now that our bike wheel trellis is installed, I realize we situated it in a great location. We can see it from the French doors of the kitchen, across the garden. So we have a pretty focal point that pulls the eye across to the end of our little garden space.
I love our little bike wheel trellis because it’s a piece of functional garden art. I also love it because it was free (well, $5 of hardware). And it’s very personal, as a small legacy from Bunny Hop bike shop, which serviced my mountain bike for many years.
One of my New Year’s garden resolutions was to work harder to make my garden pretty. I want it to be a place of calm retreat, with garden art and little resting places. This isn’t easy to do in a small urban space. Now, every time I look out through the kitchen doors, or pull my bike out of the shed for a ride, I look at our little bike wheel trellis and smile.