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Building A Garden Trellis

One good thing about Garden Blogging through the winter is that you have nothing to post about. So you can go back to all those photos that you took over the summer but never had time to blog about and finally catch up. Today I’m going to play catch up and I’m Building a Garden Trellis.

Space is limited in my raised beds, so I have to garden vertically when I can and make use of every square inch. This year, I decided that squash and cucumbers would share a 4x8 bed. The cucumbers needed a trellis.

If you’re looking for a fancy trellis made by a woodworker or someone who can bend and twist wrought iron to make art, then you’ll have to look elsewhere. This is a quick and easy trellis made from wood and twine.

The posts are 1x2’s. You could use 2x4s but 1x2s are cheaper and they’re strong enough to support the weight of most veggies so why not save a few dollars. You’ll need two 1x2s to use as posts and one as a cross piece that goes across the top.

I avoid the whole old pressure treated wood (CCA) vs. new pressure treated wood (ACQ) in the garden argument by using regular lumber. It’s going to rot in a few years, but at $1.88 for an 8 foot 1x2, I’d rather replace the wood instead of worrying about chemicals leaching into the soil. Will they or won’t they? That’s a question for someone else.

Each post should be buried at least 18” deep or if you’re building a trellis that will go inside a raised bed like mine, then you can secure it to the frame with 2 more screws. Remember that you’ll want the two posts to be the same height so that the cross piece is level. A laser level is a great tool to easily accomplish this. If you don’t have a laser level then place the cross piece on top and use a regular bubble level. Use a hammer to slowly tap the posts into the ground. If you keep knocking the cross piece off, then duct tape it. Once you’re level, use two 3 inch galvanized screws to secure each joint. If you’re worried about the wood cracking, then pre-drill your holes.

Now measure and make pencil marks one foot apart going down from the top and then along the cross piece. Partially drill a short screw with a large head (or add a washer) into each mark. These screws are for attaching your twine. Tie a knot around the first screw and then screw it in the rest of the way so that the twine is secure. Fasten the string going horizontally across the trellis and then going vertically, screwing the screws in as you go. When going from top to bottom, tie a knot in the twine every place that it crosses the horizontals.

As I said before, my trellis may not look good enough for a gardening magazine but it sure did the job.


  1. Anonymous said...
    I think your trellis looks pretty good. I also garden with raised beds, and avoided treated lumber. I used cedar boards, so they would last longer.
    Anthony said...
    Thanks Carol,

    I used cedar to build some of my raised beds but lately I just use regular wood. Cedar is so expensive!
    The County Clerk said...
    This reminds me of something I've been wanting to write about. The phrase escape me now, but it is the notion of gardening whereby one plants a bean next to a kernal of corn. The corn becomes the "trellis" for the vine and saves space.

    I've never done raised beds.

    You have me thinking about it now.
    Anthony said...
    Clerk, are you thinking of a Three Sisters Garden? First you plant corn, then when it's about a foot high you plant the beans around it. And as you said the beans climb the corn and use it as a trellis. And the beans fix nitrogen and also feed the corn. The third sister is some kind of squash and that's planted last. The squash leaves shade the bed and help keep it from drying out.

    I tried it once but didn't have much success. I think a woodchuck ate all my corn seedlings so I just had a bed of beans.

    Maybe you'll have better luck.
    Anonymous said...
    Just curious as to whether I could use PVC piping for my trellis? It won't rot, I can cut it and screw into it, and it's fairly cheap. The only drawback I can think of is that it's not very attractive...
    Anthony said...
    Anonymous, PVC is a good idea too. I've seen a lot of people use PVC for tomato cages. At the end of the season they just dismantle and it'll store nicely. Your initial investment will be higher than wood but as you said, they won't rot.

    And it doesn't have to be ugly anymore either. They sell spray paint now that especially made for plastic. A nice coat of green paint would blend in with most gardens.
    Anonymous said...
    How tall would you recommend for a vegetable garden trellis? I guess height would vary depending on the plant type so I'm looking for a good average height to use. Thanks
    Anthony said...
    Well if you buy 8 foot lumber and put two of those feet in the ground, then you've got a 6 foot trellis. That would be fine for most stuff you'd grow in a vegetable garden. If you cut a foot off you'd still be fine. Cutting two feet off for a 4 foot trellis might be too small for some plants. You're right, it really depends on what you're growing.
    Tabitha said...
    I build a trellis based on your design, but the squirrels tore all the strings off the frame. If you have squirrels where you live, you might want to use wire instead of string.
    Anthony said...
    Hi Tabitha, sorry to hear about your trellis and your crazy squirrels. I can't believe they were able to pull down garden twine because it's pretty thick. Wire will stop your squirrels but you may want to put a couple of support brackets up too since it's a lot heavier. Good luck.
    Anonymous said...
    Was there a particular type of cucumber you grew on that type of trellis? I'm considering them this year and wondering which sort of variety to choose for a trellis like yours. I may have to reinforce with grid fencing wire at the bottom however...also due to squirrels.
    Anthony said...
    Hello Anon,
    In these pictures (2 years ago) those were Kirby cucumbers and 12" seedless cucumbers. And I got the seeds from Burpee for both of them. Good luck with your cucumbers this year.

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