Tidy Trellises

Squash trellis image from Pinterest.
Some of the most cluttered plants to grow in the garden are squashes, tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelons. With all their vines, fruits, and leaves, it can be hard to see exactly what's going on—and can make treacherous work of so much as navigating your way through your garden.

Trellises solve this problem completely by taking these plants up off of the ground. Even for heavier plants like hubbard squash and pumpkins, low trellises at least provide a guide for vines so they're not just tangled piles on your garden floor.

Below are instructions for trellis construction (gleaned from the amazing Instructables site); you can modify the height of the trellis as your needs require.
The hoop house was about $100 in materials (all purchased from a big box store), which certainly seems like a lot, but this thing is BIG!  It's about 7' wide, 10' long, and 7' high.  The materials used in this project are weather resistant, UV resistant, and rust resistant which means it can be left in place for years, and the fencing material allows a great deal of light to hit the ground allowing for ground crops if vines aren't desired one season or another.  Additionally, shade cloth can be attached to the hoops to prevent burning for any crops that don't particularly love full sun in certain climates.

The goal of this project was to create a trellis that is sturdy and inexpensive for the amount of crops that can be grown and that allows a lot of air flow, sunlight, and easy access for picking fruit and maneuvering the vines.  Although we did this for tomatoes, this trellis isn't limited to that particular crop.  Just imagine this thing covered in cucumbers and sweet peas!

Materials:
  • 1 1/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe (x3) 
  • 3/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe with connectable ends (x10) 
  • PVC plumbing adhesive  
  • 3'x50' Galvanized welded wire fence (x2)
  • Pack of rebar ties
Tools:
  • Measuring tape 
  • String
  • Saw
  • Wire cutters
  • Gloves
  • Sledge hammer
  • Scrap piece of 2x4
Method:
  1. Prep the soil for growing your crop. 
  2. Glue 2 lengths of the 3/4" pipe together (repeat 4 more times to get five 20' long pipes) and allow to cure for 24 hours. 
  3. Cut the 1 1/4" pipe to 2 1/2' lengths. 
  4. Measure a 10' by 7' area and create line guides making sure to square the corners. 
  5. At 2' intervals along the long side of the measured area, pound the 1 1/4" pipe into the ground using a piece of 2x4 for cushioning so as not to damage the pipe.
  6. Insert the 3/4" pipe into the 1 1/4" pipes creating the hoop. 
  7. Span the wire fence over the hoops and attach the fence to the pipe using rebar ties. 
  8. Plant your vegetables or ornamentals or whatever!  Have fun and enjoy!
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.