Finding creative ways to repurpose baby cribs is important considering that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has recalled 11 million since 2007, many of them drop-side cribs that are no longer legal for sale and cannot be donated or easily recycled (see References 1 and 5). Clever reuses include transforming crib parts into bench seating and armchairs, kids' work stations, storage centers and racks for displaying plates and magazines or drying laundry. One particularly green idea is to use slatted crib sides to build a hinged, portable, A-frame trellis that is inexpensive and increases garden production.
Items you will need:
- 2 long, slatted crib sides
- Exterior-grade paint
- 3 2-inch, corrosion-resistant butt hinges, fixed or floating pin
- Screws that fit hinge holes and depth of frame around slats
- Phillip's head screwdriver
- Nail, smaller diameter than screws
- Measuring tape
- 4 6-inch stakes, metal tent stakes or angled wooden wedges
- Garden twine
Disassemble the crib, setting aside the long, slatted sides for the trellis. Store the hardware and other parts in an area unavailable to babies and young children.
Sand the crib sides before painting, because sanding helps paint to adhere. Use exterior-grade paint to minimize rotting due to moisture, insects and interaction with soil.
Mark each crib side 2 inches in from both ends; this is where you will install the hinges to join the crib sides and form the angled top of the A-frame.
Line up the crib sides so they are standing up straight and forming the trellis. Lay a hinge flat on each of the marked locations so the hinges are 2 inches in from the ends of the crib sides. Mark dots inside the hinge holes where the screws will be installed.
Use a hammer and nail to tap a pilot hole into each dot to guide screw installation. Make sure the nail hole is shorter than the screw and has a smaller diameter.
Line up the crib sides again for installation of the hinges. Lay each hinge so it straddles the two crib sides with the "knuckle," or hinging section, lying over the division between the two rails. Use a Phillip's head screwdriver to install the screws into each pilot hole, affixing the hinges.
Measure to the middle point of the trellis top and mark it for installation of the third hinge. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to create the pilot holes and install the hinge.
Place the trellis in the garden, arranging the sides to form an A-shape tall enough to grow vining vegetables, such as snow peas, climbing green beans and cucumbers. Keep the trellis in place by anchoring the foot end of each corner with a metal tent stake or wooden wedge. Lash the bottom corners of the trellis to these stakes with garden twine. (See References 2)
- Trellises maximize garden space and minimize problems from insects and other soil-borne problems. They also make harvesting easier, particularly for gardeners who need to work from a seat. (See References 4) Vegetables vining up the trellis can shade cool-weather plants, such as lettuce, growing under the A-frame.
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Crib Information Center
- Urban Farm Online: Slide Show –- Build a Portable Trellis
- Engineer's Handbook: Wood Screw Pilot Hole Sizes
- "Vertical Gardening"; Derek Fell
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Childcare Providers -- Your Guide to New Crib Standards
Alicia Rudnicki's website, Library Mix, blends book buzz and literacy news for all ages. Her articles have also appeared in many print publications including "The Denver Post" since the late 1970s. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in education from the University of Colorado at Denver.