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The idea of garden ornaments fashioned out of rebar (steel rod used to reinforce concrete) grew out of the need for a trellis on a blank stucco wall in a garden that I was creating in Berkeley, California. I wanted to make something unconventional and I thought of bending rebar to form a tree shape. I showed the garden owner what I intended by drawing the shape on the wall and she liked the idea, so I made my first rebar tree. It worked so well that this garden now has four trees; one of them, covered by a Clematis, creates a canopy on the patio.

Since that first sculpture in 1992 I have installed more than 35 "trees" in Bay Area gardens, some free-standing, some espaliered, and most with flowing, graceful plant shapes, though some are more abstract. They range in height from 3' to 18' and can have any number of branches.

The flexibility of rebar allows me to bend and shape it into interesting forms. The pieces are anchored in concrete and acquire a beautiful patina of rust that complements plant and flower colors.

<< A popular style is this Italian cypress shape that can add a bold, vertical accent to a site. Imagine an allée of rebar cypresses, a grouping with trees of varying heights, or a solitary tree as a focal point.

Rebar trees are perfect supports for climbing and twining vines and will also support roses. One of the most satisfying effects for me is a Parthenocissus henryana trained on an espaliered rebar tree against a low wall. This deciduous vine turns brilliant red in autumn and exposes the rebar in winter.

Each tree is unique and designed for its site, so prices vary, beginning at $200. Rebar trees never need watering, feeding or pruning.

For more information or a consultation send a message to Rebar Trees or call Tom Chakas at (510)387-7594. Read more about us in the April, 1998 issue of Garden Design.