Garden products such as trellis and rose arbours will spend their entire life outside in the elements, so obviously they will need to be made from a durable timber that will last. If you went to a garden centre, you would probably be sold a product made from a plantation soft wood, usually from Scandinavia and treated with chemicals to preserve it. Again, I find chestnut with it’s high tannin content to be an ideal material for these types of products, not only will it last longer, but I think it looks so much better.
This crisscross trellis frame (right) supports a rambling rose and carries an electric cable to an outhouse.
Chestnut lasts longer with the bark removed, this is probably because it dries out quicker and insects can’t burrow under the bark, which will eventually fall off anyway. For this reason I recommend ordering peeled products, but because of the extra labour involved this will work out slightly more expensive. Whichever you choose, I am happy to provide you with a price for peeled or unpeeled.
Also if the product requires a ‘half” round pole,or even a slat or batten for that matter, It is far better to cleave a round pole rather than to saw it along the grain. You will end up with a rather more rustic and twisted piece which follows the natural contours of the wood. However, cleaving is basically tearing apart the grains in the wood, usually with a froe or a wedge. Importantly it does not cut though the grain. Once you expose the end grain as you would when rip sawing or milling, water is much more likely to enter the wood and reduce it’s longevity.
Recently I have been experimenting with peeled, forked sticks. These are small diameter natural forks which I nail on to the frame work. The three point fixings on this kind of work quickly makes up a rigid and strong structure requiring no extra bracing, ideal for rambling roses or any other climber.
All my garden products are bespoke constructions made to order, this means I can tailor them to the exact size and specification you require. Please contact me to discuss your project, preferably before the end of March so I can ensure I have enough materials cut.