Most people who haven’t sent time on the farm or ranch are most likely unfamiliar with a very useful item, the standard 50″ by 16′ cattle panel, which can be purchased from farm and ranch supply companies such as Tractor Supply for approximately $25. These panels and a few t-posts allow the setting up of a temporary or permanent fence of a substantial size in very little time.
But in the vertical gardening milieu these stout, welded livestock panels can be put to other uses as well. A cattle panel can be used as a 16′ trellis, or cut in half to form two 8′ trellises, or set up as intended like a fence, but used as a 4′ high trellis 16′ long. Their flexibility allows bending the panel with both ends anchored on the ground forming an arch on which plants can grow or containers hung.
You can cut the panels using bolt cutters, a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade or an angle grinder with a metal cutting or diamond blade. You can cut a panel in half and use the two halves to construct an a-frame which climbing plants can readily grow up. Cut one into 8 two-foot sections, and you can assemble them into two tomato cages, or use two panels side-by-side about 30″ apart with tomato plants growing between the two.
Another use of the cattle panel is the construction of a greenhouse. Several panels are bent to form arches joined together in 50″ lengths until your greenhouse has the dimensions required. The ends are secured to a wooden plate or beam, or tied to pieces of galvanized pipe or rebar pounded into the ground, and some have even created a more elaborate setup with cinder blocks and concrete forming the base. Plastic sheeting is then draped over this framework and secured to the frame using any one of a variety of ties, clasps or screws.