Photo/Illustration: Mike Wanke
Instead of buying garden stakes, I made excellent ones for free from a discarded chain-link fence.
Using an old roll of fence I had lying around, I created my stakes by snipping apart the fencing at the ends with a bolt cutter (be sure to wear eye protection). I then untwisted the links from each other one by one, then unbent the zigzags from the bottom foot of each length of wire to stick into the ground and cut the other end into a useful 3- to 4-foot length. As a safety precaution, I bent the tops over into a tight, round loop.
The stakes are strong, yet their zigzag configuration makes them flexible and springy—an advantage in windy weather. For most plants, I don’t even use ties; I just thread the stem into the zigzag for support.
The stakes remain rather unobtrusive in the garden, though friends have remarked that they look whimsical. The only disadvantage is that they sometimes become entangled—like coat hangers—when stored in a heap.