To build a trellis

Stephanie asked me to write up how I made the new pea trellis. I was glad to have something to pull me away from work, so I got right on it!

I’ll start with a list of supplies (I got everything from Lowes):

  • ($10) 6′ steel fence post x2 (the ones sold as 6’…they are actually longer, with the part that goes in ground)
  • ($8) 1″x4″x10′ boards x2 (this means they are 1 inch thick, 4 inches wide and 10 feet long)
  • ($3) 1″x2″x8′ board x1 for the center post
  • ($3) Wire – old metal hangers and a couple spare landscape staples is what we used.
  • ($4) Twine…the stuff from Lowes is far from spectacular and breaks if stretched too far, but it served it’s purpose, cheaply
  • drill with drill bits, pliers, a couple screws, and scissors or a knife
  • ($6-30) Post driver. We made our own with a short piece of pipe, maybe 3-4″ with a pipe cap screwed on it (cost a little under $6). Top the post with that and hammer away. Or you can buy a premade one, but those are over $20. Up to you. It protects the post from the blow of the hammer.
  • A helper tall enough to reach up to 6′ (I know your toddlers would love such a job but they’re a little short!)

Assuming you’ve got a spot picked out, weeded, amended if needed, and any other soil prep done, measure just short of 10 feet…don’t make this a permanent mark, just a rough guideline. Drive the first post in so the anchor plate is a little underground. Lay one of the 10′ boards down so the end of it sticks out about an inch from the edge of the post you installed and move down to the other end. Drive the second post down so the other end of the board also sticks out about an inch.

Now measure to the middle (approximately) between the 2 posts and hammer the 8′ board down so it’s sturdy… mine only needed to go down a few inches so I plan on making my “Garden of Eatin'” sign to hammer on the top chunk sticking up.

With your helper, hold up the board to go on top so it’s almost to the top and the edge is about an inch overlapping the post – check to make sure the other end also overlaps the other post! Adjust as needed (you can pull the posts in a little if needed), then drill 2 holes just big enough for your wire, on each side of the post…I think a picture might be needed here to illustrate what we’re trying to accomplish:

Hopefully from that, you can see how the holes are drilled, with wire pushed through and twisted (enter pliers)….if you get it tight enough the little nobby things will keep it from sliding down (good technical manual I’m writing here, eh?). Finish that side, then do the same on the other end.

Use your drill and a couple screws and connect the center board with the top board. This is particularly important if you go with a more narrow board, like a 2″ instead of the 4″ I used, to keep it from sagging.

Now on the bottom, do the same thing on each side and the middle, but you really only need 1 wire to attach the boards to the posts (they won’t have the weight on them the top ones will)…keep the board slightly off the ground to prevent rotting:

Not to attach the twine. There’s 2 ways. The first way uses the drill to put holes for the twine to go through:

I think it looks nicer, but it takes longer and it makes the board unusable for anything else. For me, it took too long, so I moved on the the second:

In either case, start at the bottom, tie a good knot then carefully stretch the twine around the top board. It needs to be taut, but not too tight. If it breaks on you, you’ll know it was too tight! Consult your seed packets to know how far to space the twine. I did this after my peas were well established, but I would probably plant 2-3 seeds per string if I was direct sowing to ensure they all get used.

In the end, this is what I got:

3 replies
  1. Philip
    Philip says:

    That is a grea looking trellis. We had the worst luck with peas. All the bugs ate them. do you have any advice? iIwould love to grow them. We have green beans, and they do great…but not on such a fine trellis as you made!

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    Thank you =) I’ve had excellent results with nematodes. I was truly surprised they actually worked, I grew up with chemicals being normal and everything else ineffective. Since I’m staying with organic methods, I’m limited on pest control. Very few plants have any damage at all, it’s minimal what is there.


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