Our garden’s archway trellis was a new addition in 2017, and one that we’re going to use again this spring. Aside from being a great way to raise climbers in an enclosed garden space, it was the perfect little tunnel for those kids of ours. We have lots of family photos that prove that, but today, think about making one your own before it’s time to plant seeds.
I use scrap wood for projects whenever possible, so when it came time to build two rectangular boxes for raised garden beds, I turned to some weathered barn wood boards that had already stood up to wind and rain and were still plenty sturdy for a new project. You can see in the below picture that the assembly wasn’t anything complex; cut 8 pieces and lap the corners (4 boards measured 4-feet long, which was determined by the width of my fencing, and 4 measured 1-foot, decided by how much space I had available in the garden). A few screws are all it takes to hold them together. If you’re using 1x boards like I did, be sure that the wood screws are at least 2″ with a 1″ shank, and always predrill the holes to prevent splitting – whether the wood is new or old. Throw it back, Codeman! We miss you, bud.
Transfer those raised beds into your garden. Position them parallel with a preschooler-sized pathway between them… ~18-24″.
Four pieces of 4′ rebar come in handy for the next part – adding the archway. Put one rebar post in each inner corner so that it’s sturdy and upright, with about 2.5′-3′ of rebar extending above the soil and into the air. The arch itself is a 12′ length of galvanized rolled fencing, and a little feisty to wrangle. Start by weaving one end of the fencing through two pieces of rebar so that it fits down into one of your planter boxes. Create the arch by weaving the other end of fencing through the other two pieces of rebar. Make adjustments until the shape of the arch is perfect. Depending on how tightly the coil of fencing was bound, it might need a little bending and finesse, but it’ll come together, promise!
Fill the planters to the brim with soil. I used ordinary garden soil and mixed in some nutrients, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about gardening and seed starting. We used our trellis for cucumbers, and it worked wonderfully even when the plant was loaded and heavy with fruit/veggies. Nasturtiums would be wonderful; climbing beans would be fun too.
The height of the archway isn’t quite tall enough for me, a 5’8″ adult, but still big enough for me to easily duck into.
As the plants sprout and grow established leaves and tendrils, train them to grow up the fencing. It’s likely that they’ll catch on themselves, but it doesn’t hurt to guide the end of the plant back and forth upward through the fencing throughout the growing process to assure a neat, passable archway.
You’ll be able to access your harvest from the inside of the trellis as well as out. The wire fencing held strong for us in its first-year trial, even when there were dozens of cucumbers weighing on the archway and putting it to the test. On to year #2!