Shortening the lifespan of a trellis – a gardening oops.

Here we are at another first of the month … the day I reserve to confess one of my gardening oops – fondly known as GOOPs. Traveling has kept my hands out of in-the-dirt gardening for the past month but I still have a good faux pas to share.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My November 2010 GOOPs involves two cedar trellises I picked up a few – let’s say more than 5 but less than 10 – years ago. I positioned each trellis to rest upright on either side of my long front porch with visions of Sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata) spiraling up each. After one year in the ground the clematis tendrils intertwined up, through, and around the trellis supports and delighted me and visitors alike with a few late August/early September blossoms. During the second year the clematis completely covered each trellis and bloomed profusely, looking much like the one in the photo here that currently resides in a different location.

My plan was a home run … or so I thought. During the subsequent winter, voles or chipmunks or both tunneled around the clematis and developed a taste for the roots of my beloved vines. By spring one vine was dead. The other struggled and eventually died. The trellises, however, stood strong. Rather than replace the two pricey clematis plants, I planted morning glory seeds which have covered the trellises each summer since. I let the morning glory vines self-sow, preventing the need to purchase fresh seed for these spots in subsequent years. I’ve been really happy with my system until this year when, after a night of strong wind, I looked out to see one of the vine-laden trellises broken off at the ground and resting heavily on a small boxwood shrub planted nearby. In my haste to implement my original plan I had placed the legs of each trellis directly into the ground. Each spring I meant to pull the trellises so I could sink lengths of metal pipes into the ground to rest the trellis legs into. I’ve used this technique on other trellises with success – scrap pipes or tubes, such as an aluminum hose attachment of an old, broken canister vacuum cleaner, cut to length and pounded into the soil so about an inch or two remains above the soil line. Using pipe the trellis legs firmly fit into prevents the trellis from rocking to and fro. The hollow pipes keep the trellis legs from direct contact with soil and allow the wood to remain dry and rot-free for a longer period of time.

But I never managed to do this with the two trellises along my front porch. Now they have both broken at ground level and currently lean against a porch post. (Since the morning glories were still in bloom when the breaks occurred I tied each trellis to a porch post to prevent continued falls to the ground.)


Now that cold weather has diminished the vines blooms and leaves, the bare facts of my neglect smack me in the face every time I look out front. It’s time for a revamp. I will remove both trellises, repurposing each as shorter supports in the same spots or elsewhere (still pondering my plan). The bottom line is had I installed the trellises properly way back when they would have had a longer vine-supporting life in their current spot. My GOOPS, my faux pas.

Now it’s your turn … will you admit to any garden neglect or other gardening oops? I’d love to read any GOOPs you care to confess in a comment below or on your own blog. Just leave a teaser and link here so readers can find your GOOPs. I hope my GOOPs will remind other gardeners to avoid my blunders. If you are willing to join this confessional we might all sprout better gardening habits.

5 comments for “Shortening the lifespan of a trellis – a gardening oops.

  1. November 1, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Oh no, I’ve done the same thing. My kiwi vine is growing on a trellis sunk directly into the garden soil. Now you’re making me realize I have to go dig the thing up and reset it in something protective before I have a GOOPs just like yours!

    My GOOPs this month is on my blog. It’s a silly one, it’s just the stupid kind of thing we’ve all done but won’t admit!

  2. joenesgarden
    November 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Laurrie, I hope your kiwi vine is not too big yet. My experience is they grow very very fast and can become very heavy. It will be a good idea to have a sturdy trellis for it to grow on. Good luck.

  3. November 3, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Now putting metal pipes in the ground for trellises is something I never would’ve thought of. Excellent idea! Gardening oops-got a few. Notably the most recent one was putting a glass globe on a pedestal right next to a rock edging. Rocks and glass do not mesh and my poor globe (been here for 7 years) bit the dust:(

  4. joenesgarden
    November 4, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Sorry to hear about your glass globe, Tina. I hesitate to put any glass in my gardens … too much breakage potential from falling branches or acorns or the handle of a mis-handled garden tool. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you get a chance to use my metal pipe idea.

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