Latticework that Works!

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Lattice fencing has been a go-to tool for gardeners forever. Its classic crisscross or grid structure has remained unaltered since its inception for one reason: it works! And as we all know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Indeed, the lattice is the one "fixing" things – it provides privacy fencing for yards, serves as a blank canvas for clinging vines and ivy, helps climbing vegetables to reach new heights, keeps out unwanted critters, and functions as the main building material for decorative arbors, trellises, screens, pergolas and more!

Let’s learn a bit more about lattice by delving into two of its main purposes: vertical gardening and natural pest control.

Vertical Vegetables

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One of the wonderful things about the overlapping strips in latticework is the structural support they provide for climbing vines and vertically-growing plants and vegetables.

In the world of trellis climbers, you can’t go wrong with selections such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peas and pole beans.

Once the frost threat passes for your region, lay out your garden in front of your lattice incorporating each plant’s specific spatial needs – this info can be found on the transplant’s nursery container.

After placing each transplant in its specified hole, cover with soil (mixed with compost for nourishment) and water liberally. From here, attach each of the climbers to the lattice by looping a soft piece of twine around the main stem of each plant and tie the loose ends to the lattice.

As the plant grows, the twine will guide the stems to grow vertically against the lattice. As soon as the vegetables ripen, harvest them and enjoy a homegrown bite of your hard work!

Natural Pest Control

Another fantastic use for lattice is as a tool for border control for those annoying animals that threaten to move into your home, completely uninvited. Just take a look around at all of the crawl-space homes surrounded with lattice under-fencing and you will understand the widespread infestation issues that lattice solves in such a lovely manner!

But more to the point is how to keep hungry critters like rabbits and deer from feasting on the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor: installing lattice fencing is a great way to keep their grubby little paws off your peas and carrots and little hooves away from your rose bushes.

Although a picket fence works well as an exterior border surrounding your entire yard, if it is not at least 6 feet tall it may not thwart all deer, as some can clear that height in a single leap. Rather than installing a completely new fence, consider adding a level of lattice at the top of your existing fence.

Attaching a length of lattice to the upper railing of your fence not only provides the additional height to keep the deer at bay but it also adds texture and interest to your fence and can soften the entire look of your yard if you allow vines or ivy to grow on the lattice. Plus, you are repurposing what you already have which is a great way to save some green for the planet and your wallet!

When it comes to rabbits, here’s a quick tutorial on installing a lattice border around your garden:

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You’ll need:

  • Wire rabbit fencing, with openings no larger than an inch: Ensure you have enough wire for the length of your entire garden area that is at least four feet wide
  • Decorative lattice, in the same length as the wire fencing and at least three and a half feet wide
  • Garden trowel

To build your border:

  • Use the garden trowel to dig a narrow channel around the perimeter of your garden, approximately 12 inches deep
  • Bury the wire rabbit fencing in the trench – there should be 12 inches below the surface and three feet above ground
  • Fill in the trench halfway, leaving six inches of space from the surface
  • Enclose the wire rabbit fencing with the lattice, burying the lattice approximately six inches deep
  • Replace the remaining soil and firmly pack the ground around the new fencing

With this type of border, you have form and function. The decorative lattice masks the presence of the wire rabbit fencing, at least partially, and cursory garden admirers may not even notice it, depending on the style of lattice you choose. By burying the fence in the ground, you discourage burrowing and digging and at three feet tall, even Bugs Bunny will have difficulty breaching your barrier!

What other garden projects do you plan to complete with lattice?

Chris Long, a long-time store associate at a Home Depot in Illinois, writes for the Home Depot website. He enjoys writing on outdoor projects ranging from lattice to lumber and fencing.

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