With a name like "chicken wire," you'd think this popular metal fencing product is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it's actually anything but. Sure, you can use chicken wire for building safe enclosures for chickens and patching damaged chicken fencing, but it's good for a whole lot more than that. Especially when it comes to those random scraps and end pieces that aren't big enough for a serious livestock project, but are perfect for more esoteric uses.
1. Mini cloches
Cloches protect tender plants from frost and hard weather, and they can be a pain to make, especially when you don't need anything very large -- like if you just need to protect the contents of a few pots. Use chicken wire to create a frame you can drape with frost cloth or torn up sheets (a great way to recycle old bedding) for a quick and easy protective cloche in harsh weather. You can use the same trick to control fruit flies with a muslin-covered cloche that fits over your fruit bowl.
2. Pest proofing
Deer love tender plants, and spring is one of the worst times for deer predation because so many plants in the garden are putting out brand new shoots. Keep deer away from your apple seedlings, delicate wisteria, and other garden friends with chicken wire cages. It doesn't look pretty, but it will help your plants stay alive! Secure it to the ground and the wire will also keep out bunnies, rats, and squirrels -- if necessary, sink approximately two inches of the wire underground to keep out digging pests.
3. Paper mache (or Papier Mache for the Francophones)
Yes, it's a classic use of chicken wire. Use it to create a frame you can use to support a paper mache project. Don't be afraid to think out of the box, though -- this art form isn't just for kids' projects. It can also be used to make ornaments, models, and more.
4. Reinforcing concrete
While chicken wire won't render the same support offered by rebar and sturdier materials, it can be good for small projects. For example, wrap chicken wire around the base of a post before pouring concrete to create a sturdier, stronger footing, or use chicken wire in the footings of a low Orlando concrete garden wall to give it added strength.
5. Topiary training
If you want to train ivy and other climbing plants, build a chicken wire frame for them to sprawl over. Over time, the chicken wire will be covered, and you'll have a fantastic shape in the garden. (Support the chicken wire with dowels if it's large or has a lot of empty spaces.)
6. Household or office organizing center
If you want something a little different than the usual corkboard for holding information, messages, mail, and more, consider chicken wire. Find an old frame (window, picture, mirror, or otherwise) and staple chicken wire across it; use clips to hold paper and other materials to the organizing center so you can keep current on where people are, where they're going, and what they should be doing.
7. Pea trellis
It's spring, and baby peas are shooting up. Help my favorite vegetable have room to grow this spring and summer with a chicken wire frame that provides lots of holds and makes it easy for you to harvest some luscious peas! For a basic pea trellis, set up a a-frame made from two old screen doors strung with chicken wire, or build your own rectangular frame. Hinges at the top allow you to fold it open, and fold it flat again in the fall and winter for storage.
8. Quick gopher protection
Have a gopher problem? Bury chicken wire under your garden beds, stapling it to the sides to keep digging paws away. Chicken wire will eventually break down, though, so for a long-term solution you'll want sturdier hardware cloth.
9. Farm basket
Yes, you can get an expensive one from Anthropologie, or...you can make your own. Use heavy-gauge wire to shape out the basket, and cover it in chicken wire. Great for collecting eggs, of course, but also other garden bounty, and line it with a napkin for bringing scones and other goodies to events.
Industrial-style openwork metal is getting popular for lighting, and chicken wire is a great material to use. Shape it into a shade and use it with a gorgeous Edison bulb to get a vintage effect.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.