Grab some sweet pea seeds and willow rods, and you can make this gorgeous, scented archway (or secret tunnel) for your garden.
This project is shared from the new book, Gardening on a Shoestring: 100 Fun Upcycled Garden Projects by Alex Mitchell.
Also see the DIY Succulent Wall Planter for more creative ideas.
Gardening on a Shoestring
The book features 100 fun, upcycled garden projects and there’s all sorts of great ideas including frugal and fabulous garden containers, propagating plants (free new plants from the ones you already have), smart choices for garden supplies (without wasting money), and keeping your garden healthy (for next to nothing). The photographs are lovely and everything comes with creative twists that make us love gardening just a little bit more.
This project, the sweet pea garden arch, is a fun idea for a spot in the garden where you might like a secret pathway leading to something special. If you have children, it’s just an all-round fun play place, and you could aim it toward their own little garden sitting area, picnic spot, or veg garden. As it fills in, it will become the most beautiful, naturally-scented tunnel with all those reds, pinks, and purples. In the book, Alex suggests it as a pathway to the trampoline which sounds like a fine idea.
How to Make a Sweet Pea Tunnel (Garden Arch)
This project uses willow rods. If they are not available in your area, ask for alternate suggestions at a local garden nursery or garden club. What you choose may depend on whether you want the arch to last for just one season or many years to come.
- Brown, soaked willow rods (not living or green since this may root).
For every three feet of tunnel you will need around 40 rods each about 9 feet long.
If the tunnel is for children, they could be a little shorter.
- Garden twine
- Sweet pea seeds
Sweet pea vine seeds are available as annuals and perennials. The perennial type, known as Everlasting Sweet Pea, can be invasive in some areas. Always check locally to be sure any seeds you choose are safe for your area and won’t cause problems later.
When to Do It
Any time for the structure; sow sweet pea seeds in the spring.
How to Do It
- Push the thick ends of the rods into the ground on either side of the path, spacing them more or less equally, at a distance of about 3 inches apart.
- Now bend over the tops of each opposing pair so they meet in the middle.
- When you are happy with the height of the tunnel, tie the rods together at that point to form a series of arches.
- Strengthen the top of the tunnel by twirling any thin ends left over around the opposite rod and typing in the ends securely.
- Now strengthen the sides of the tunnel and give your sweet peas plenty of horizontal supports to climb.
- Make sure the rods have been soaked so they are sufficiently flexible.
- Take a rod and carefully weave it horizontally through all the uprights, about 8 inches from the ground.
- If it doesn’t reach all the way to the end of the tunnel, continue with a new rod, tying any loose ends as you go.
- Repeat just above the first lateral, but this time weaving in the alternate pattern to create a strong bond.
- Weave in a further rod so you have three laterals and then repeat this on the other side of the tunnel.
- Weave in two further groups of laterals on each side, at about 16 inch intervals, so that the tunnel feels strong and secure.
Now you are ready to sow your sweet peas.
- Space seeds about 2 inches apart along the base of the tunnel on each side.
- You want a profusion of colour, so really pack in the seeds.
- Water well and protect the seedlings from slugs and snails until they are established.
- Tie in the stems to the supports as they grow to help them along and when they start flowering, keep picking to encourage them to produce more blooms.
Gardening on a Shoestring
100 Fun Upcycled Garden Projects by Alex Mitchell
- How to be a Shoestring Gardener
- Pots for a Pittance
- Style on a Shoestring
- Grow Food for Peanuts
- Now to Make New Plants for Free
- How Not to Waste Money on Gardening Supplies
- Keep Your Garden Healthy for (Almost) Nothing