10 Innovative Uses for Chicken Wire

A chicken wire art installation. Photo: Arne Hendriks/FlickrWith a name like "chicken wire," you'd think this popular metal fencing product is a bit of a one-trick pony, though 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. 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 ... like these.

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 your garden is full of 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'll help your plants stay alive! Secure it to the ground and the wire will also keep out bunnies, rats, and squirrels -- if needed, sink about 2 inches of the wire underground to stop digging pests.

3. Paper mache (or Papier mache for the Francophones)

Yes, it's a classic use of chicken wire. Bend and shape the wire to create a frame that will support a paper mache project. Don't be afraid to think out of the box -- this art form isn't just for kids' projects. It may 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 for added strength.

5. Topiary training

When you want to train ivy and other climbing plants, build a chicken wire frame for them to sprawl atop. 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'd like something a little different than the usual corkboard for holding information, messages, and mail, consider chicken wire. Find an old frame (window, picture, mirror, etc.) 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 season with a chicken wire frame that provides lots of holds and makes it easy for you to harvest some luscious peas! For a basic 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 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 -- or help from a pest control expert.

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 similar goodies to picnics or parties.

10. Lighting

Industrial-style openwork metal is becoming uber popular for lighting these days, and chicken wire is a great material to use. Shape it into a shade and pair it with a gorgeous Edison bulb to get a cool vintage effect.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

Updated May 6, 2018.

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