How to Build A Simple Sturdy Vegetable Garden Trellis
Want to grow more delicious vegetables in less garden space? Grow your cucumbers and other vine-growing veggie plants on a sturdy home made garden trellis. This spring I built a 3 ft x 5 ft garden trellis to support the cucumbers in our vegetable garden.
I made the DIY cucumber trellis from leftover wire garden fence and two saplings cut from the woods in my back yard. This strong and simple vegetable trellis took me about an hour to build using simple hand tools (saw and hammer).
I try to use natural materials and supplies I have already to create my garden walls, trellises and pathways. I have a pile of sapling poles made from cutting and trimming down young trees we thinned from our woods. I've been using these 2- and 3-inch diameter poles to make natural fencing, trellises and plant stakes for my Vermont gardens and raised beds.
Total cost of my garden cucumber trellis: about $2.00 for some nylon twine and a couple dozen galvanized fence staples.
Here's how you can make your own low-cost veggie trellis from scrap lumber or sapling poles and inexpensive wire garden fence.
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You'll need only a measuring tape, hand saw and a hammer.
Measure and Cut Your Poles
I had 36-inch wide wire fence on hand, so I decided to build a 3ft x 5ft cucumber trellis. First I measured and cut the side poles from saplings about 2 inches in diameter. I decided to add an extra 6 inches to the finished length of the side poles so I would have legs at the bottom, so I cut my 2 side poles at 66 inches. The sides needed to be 36 inches apart from outer edge to outer edge, so I cut the two horizontal poles 38 inches long to leave a slight extra overlap for lashing.
Lay out the poles and check measurements.
Lay the side poles (longer poles) to roughly the width of your trellis, then place the horizontal poles across. Lay your fencing or netting on top to check fit; the fencing edges should be aligned with the outside edges of the long poles. The top of your fencing needs to overlap the top horizontal bar by a few inches. You'll need to also overlap the bottom - keep this in mind when you cut your fencing material. Check that your side poles are even at the bottom.
Handy Saw for Trimming Branches and Garden Stakes
Sturdy and compact razor tooth saw with a curved blade is just the right size for trimming branches and garden cleanup. Chrome plated replaceable 14-inch blade has 3-sided teeth for fast, efficient cutting; limited lifetime warranty from this well-established manufactuer.
Wrap garden twine in lashing pattern to join corners together
Lash the frame together.
Position the bottom horizontal pole on top of the side poles, roughly aligning its end with the outer edge of the side pole. Loop and wind your garden twine tightly around both poles, then lash them together by wrapping in an X pattern over and under both poles, as shown in the photos below. Repeat for both sides on the bottom, then check with your fencing that the frame is straight.
Repeat the placement for the top horizontal pole, and lash the sapling poles together.
Check that your side poles are even at the bottom, then using the fence fabric as your guide for width, place the top horizontal pole across the side poles and lash together. After frame is securely tied together, you're ready to cut the fence material and staple it to the sapling poles
Lightweight wire, sisal, nylon or fiber twine for garden use will all serve the purpose of lashing together your saplings, but I like to use rot-resistant nylon seine twine in black for my garden trellis connections. this 100lb test weight line has a tarred coating, too.
Catahoula Manufacturing #12 Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine (Bank Line) 472' Spool, 100lb Test
Heavy Duty Side Cutters for Wire and Fence Cutting
A good wire cutter is a standard tool in any homeowner's or electrician's tool box.
Heavy gauge drop forged and heat treated steel side cutter, sometimes called a lineman's cutter. Cuts through fence fabric easily and quickly.
I have a wire cutting pliers like this one that's available at Amazon:
Attach fencing to all poles; vertical poles are "right" side of frame
Prepare your frame for fence fabric.
Flip the frame over so that the side poles are on the top. Lay your fence fabric on the frame and cut it to fit the frame, leaving a few inches to wrap at the top and bottom.
Attach fencing to frame.
Using galvanized fencing staples, nail the fence fabric to the frame, starting at the top and working down the sides. Keep the fence material straight as you work. You don't need to put a staple across the wire in every square - alternate blocks will be strong enough. When you reach the bottom you may need to cut a few wire strands in the fence to fit it around the poles. (See how I did this in the photo above, lower left corner near lashing.)
PVC Coated Wire is Kind to Veggies and Hands
Dark green PVC coating over 16-gauge welded, galvanized fence wire with 2-inch x 3-inch openings. This roll is 24 inches tall, slightly smaller than what I used. The fabric comes in different sizes ranging from 24 inches to 60 inches tall. I wouldn't recommend making a vegetable trellis wider than 48 inches, but you could make a narrower trellis with 24-inch fencing like this.
Prop up with a branchy sapling, scrap 2x3 or lashed garden stakes
Place your trellis in the garden, propped up at a 45-degree angle.
I used a strong sapling with a few trimmed branches left on the trunk to prop up my rustic trellis. If you don't have another sapling you can use lengths of scrap lumber to support the trellis, or lean it against a fence if you have one that's strong enough.