Bicycle-Wheel Trellis

Of the many things that I couldn’t wait to address at Wagner Woods was the distinct lack of flowering things for the feeding of pollinators and the enjoyment of the people.  The problem? I don’t know what the duck I’m doing when it comes to growing things. Our old house had a yard about the size of a postage stamp and I was just getting comfortable with that when we exchanged it for 5 acres…  What were we thinking?  

The addition has this giant porch that runs the length of it, but the underside of the porch and the addition’s foundation are bare (and ugly).  It seems like prime growing space to me, but thus far I’ve only put in one thing: a struggling Galway Bay climbing rose from Heirloom Roses.  (For the record, its struggle is my fault – Heirloom sent me a good strong rose and I tinkered with it more than it could really handle.  That it has survived at all is testament to the quality of plants that Heirloom ships.)

Well, the impulse-purchase climbing rose needs a trellis to climb on, does it not?  

Of course, this was when I was still deluded that the rose would get planted one week and need support the next week. Spoiler alert: this is not what happened.  

Like any reasonable homeowner, my Pinterest account is littered with oddball DIY projects that use random unwanted things.  I already had my eye on a free-standing bicycle wheel yard art project, I felt certain that bicycle wheels could also be used in-between the deck piers as trellising.  

We have a local bicycle shop – Velocity CoOp –  that works with area youth – if the kids show up to learn how to fix a bike, they can walk away with a bike of their own for free.  They take donations, and generally have leftover parts that can’t be salvaged. I e-mailed and asked if they had any bike wheels they were throwing away.  They did, and they were glad to see them stay out of a landfill. So I drove over there after work, filled up my trunk with discarded wheels and brought them home.

Where they sat in the tractor shed for a month.  

Eventually, I got my project list together for the experimental run at bicycle trellising.  Here’s the supply list:

  • Bike wheels, the rubber tires removed
  • Drill Brushes to knock the dirt off the wheels
  • Wire Drill Brushes to scuff the finish up to hold paint and buff out rust
  • Rustoleum Paint
  • Can Tool 
  • Drill
  • Drill Bit
  • Galvanized bolts with nuts (galvanized metal will hold up to being outside) – at least 1.5 inches long*
  • Washer
  • Deck Screws

*the diameter of the nuts and bolts isn’t terribly important, just make sure that your drill bit matches the size of your bolts.  Also, galvanized bolts might not be important in a sheltered location like under a deck, but if exposed to the elements, you might want the galvanized stuff for extra insurance against rust.  

For this installation, I wasn’t going for funky.  Restaining the deck is on the list of things to do, and I know our stain is a dark brown, so after I cleaned the rust off the wheels and scuffed them up, I sprayed them with Rustoleum in Dark Walnut, covering every surface I could reach.  

This is where the Can Tool comes in handy – it changes your grip for spraying from pressing down on the top of the can to squeezing the tool to spray.  Trust me, you’re going to want this if you have a lot of spraying to do.  

I cleaned up a handful of wheels, sprayed them with Rustoleum, and let them dry.  

Next, I found the deck screws and carried the wheels, the drill, and the screws, and moved my work to the wild.  

I started in the upper corner of the deck opening.  All bikes have at least one hole in them where the valve stem pokes through so you can fill the tire up.  Comes in handy when you’re screwing the wheel to the bottom side of the deck. Except… The hole for the valve stem is kinda big, so you might also need a washer to close off that hole – it won’t work if the head of the deck screw is smaller than the hole for the valve stem.  

I attached three wheels to the structure of the deck with deck screws, the one in the corner I connected the wheel on the vertical and horizontal surface.  Then I drilled holes in the rim of the wheels to connect them to each other. Rinse and repeat until you’re happy with how they look.  

If you’re trying this yourself, I’d keep weight distribution in mind.  Any wheel that isn’t attached to wood should be attached to at least one wheel that is attached to wood, better if there are two points of attachment.  I have no idea what the weight of a climbing rose is, but I don’t want this to fall apart once there are thorns involved in fixing it.  

You can also add something like Loctite to the nuts and bolts to hold the nuts in place, but I’m not expecting a whole lot of spontaneous movement.  

I’ve only done one of these so far. Velocity has been very generous in giving me their unwanted wheels, so I have plenty to work with as I contemplate filling in the area with more roses that will require more trellising.  

I really wish I had a pretty picture to show you, with the rose all filled out and bursting with splendorous blooms.  The fate of the rose is currently uncertain, and the trellis is awaiting the day when it is necessary. On the upside, should the day ever arrive, the trellis is there.  

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