PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a type of plastic that is used for plumbing, building supplies, and many other consumer and commercial products. It is extremely durable while maintaining its flexibility, making it highly useful for a wide variety of tasks. In fact, if you need to make a light frame to hang plants, as a trellis or for another reason, PVC is an inexpensive and versatile material to use. With a few pieces of PVC pipe of the desired thickness and the right connector pieces, you can build a frame that is both light and strong.
A good type of PVC to use for an outdoor gardening frame is the ¾ inch variety. It is flexible while still being very durable. The size of the frame you want to build will influence how much PVC pipe you need. It is sold in 10-foot lengths, but you can also find it in scrap piles and at rebuilding centers.
Connector pieces are helpful for joining the lengths of PVC together. If you use ¾ inch PVC, make sure you purchase ¾ inch connectors. They come in a variety of shapes: 90-degree Ls, 30-degree splices, straight splices, and a tri-end double L where every opening is at 90 degrees to the next. There are threaded attachments, and with PVC glue or Gorilla glue, you can forge a bond.
Depending on the type of frame you wish to build, it needs a foundation. Drill holes in blocks of wood or brick to support the frame. If you are building a trellis or some other type of plant support, you may be able to simply position the end of the PVC in the ground. If your frame will be wide at the bottom and taper up, you may not need a foundation. It really depends on its use. If you plan on using it to support a good deal of weight, it is advisable to buttress it with something sturdy at its feet.
Cutting and Shaping
Cutting PVC is quite easy. A radial arm saw or electric miter saw work well as does a handsaw. Sketch a simple diagram of what you want the frame to look like and set about measuring the lengths of pipe you need to complete the frame. If you include connecting pieces, make sure the opposite sides are measured equally so the frame is symmetrical.
Because PVC is so structurally sound, provided you support any weight that will either hang or sit atop the frame, it will maintain its shape. Easy frames to make include: a swing set-like structure with a 90-degree bend at the top and extra horizontal supports running from leg to leg, and a square or rectangular grill with four or more perpendicular leg supports used to hang plants make a small arbor.
Working with PVC is easy because it is relatively inexpensive, easy to cut and shape, and it will support quite a bit of weight. With a little creativity and a well-thought out plan, you can make a lightweight frame out of PVC for use in your garden, patio, storage shed, or garage.