Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Curved reo used as trellis

Principle 12: Creatively Use and Respond to change

I've become a big fan of reinforcing mesh (reo) as trellis around the garden. When the mesh is curved it has strength to stand on it's own and support plants. With a small backyard we need to be creative in how we can use vertical space and provide other functions at the same time, like shade.

I've been thinking about how to best shade the decking in summer for quite a while. Peter had suggested sails - but there is a need to remove them during the cooler months, which often doesn't get done, reducing the advantages of passive solar design. I wanted to use deciduous fruiting plants instead, as they perform multiple functions and change with the seasons.
What put me off using mesh earlier on is that I felt that the space would become too enclosed and feel like a prison. Mesh does have an industrial feel to it. I got around this but using three strips of heavy duty reo, running wires between them which will eventually support grape vines. I'm going to play with the plants as they grow up the trellis, guiding them on their journey. In time it will look beautiful.

Gaps were left in between the trellis to allow for solar access (for solar oven) and a place to sit to enjoy the garden. The curve gives the reo (reinforcing mesh) strength.
8mm reo-trellis with 200mm squares inserted into holes in the gutter support beam

The base of the trellis had it's end cut off and pressed into the ground 200mm. It was then fixed to the decking for support. A Ruby Seedless table grape was planted at the base.

Three trellis sections with wires linking them cover the entire deck, which will eventually be covered in grape vines and an espaliered apple tree
I used three sheets of thinner mesh (5mm with 200mm squared) around the water tanks and in the netted orchard, with 2.4m star pickets at either end to hold the shape. The bottom row of the mesh was removed and ends pressed into the ground, the curve the top holds its shape pretty well. A gap of about 300mm between the tank and the mesh allows for picking / pruning access and should provide enough space (with maintenance) so that the tree does not rub the galvanised protective layer off the water tank. The water tank should provide a micro-climate that will benefit the fruit tree and can act as a support to help net the tree as the fruits ripen.
The mesh was snaked in the netted orchard / chookyard to give it strength and support. It also provides more growing space in a smaller area and with the different angles should help the fruit to ripen over a longer period. The small corrugated iron fence faces the sun and will provide an ideal space for espaliered fruit trees. I've planted a quince, with the thought that the chickens might leave it alone and a fig, just because I had one sitting around. Eventually I'll set up a grey water system to irrigate the trees.

Used around main water tank with grafted plum (on cherry plum stock) espaliered around the water tank which will help keep it cool during summer.

Reo-trellis curved around cellar / water tank with grafted plum being espaliered to proved shade. There is a 300mm gap to prevent the tree rubbing off the galvanised coating on the tank.
Snaking reo trellis in chook yard with beginnings of espaliered apple / plum / apple. Berries planted against trellis on far wall, fig and quince on short north facing (sunward) wall on the left. Rubble around base of plants to prevent chickens digging up roots.

UPDATE: 17th October

After a comment from an online guest I was inspired to fit corks to the ends of the reinforcing mesh, to head height - to reduce the change of injury. I'd had a shopping bag of corks hanging around since my days of living at Commonground, a venue where groups and residents don't mind a drink every now and then. Back in the old days... corks were used in wine bottles too, but I found that the larger champagne corks were better suited and I had enough for the job.
I held the corks in place with a vice and used a 7mm drill bit for the holes, making sure that I didn't go all the way through. With the mesh being 8mm the fit was tight enough that the cork shouldn't come off too easily.

Champagne corks added to the decking reo-trellis to reduce injury of potential sudden impact

5 comments:

TC said...

Really nice idea - looking forward to seeing the mesh overgrown.

Anonymous said...

How about some cork on those reo ends that might be of a height to injure. (i get called "worst case scenario)
Pen

Anonymous said...

Also meant to say the trellises look great. Pen

Richard Telford said...

That's a good idea - Peter suggested that too. I've got a shopping bag full of corks that I was wondering what to do with.
I have used 8mm reo (pretty thick) and used a grinder to smooth off the ends - but someone could hurt themselves if they came belting around the corner.

Richard Telford said...

Put the corks on this morning! See update

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