Check out my new 10 foot tall bean trellis! I’m so proud of the way it turned out I have dubbed it the Super Sturdy Pole Bean Trellis! This trellis is perfect for beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, squash and any other vining vegetable you might want to grow! It would even make an awesome tomato support!
Instructions to make your own trellis follow a bit of background:
The Super Sturdy Pole Bean Trellis came about because the original Not-So-Sturdy Trellis had come up a little short. Quite literally. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been reading this blog because it should be apparent by now that I have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing!
Anyways, my first attempt at a pole bean trellis was to drive 2 posts into the ground and stretch some trellis netting between them. That worked fine for a few weeks, but pretty quickly the beans outgrew the 5 foot height of the netting and started twisting around each other and dangling in space. It was ugly (shudders)…
So I went to Lowe’s and spent a nice couple hours wandering around as if I knew what I was looking for (a skill that I’ve honed to perfection over the past 41 years). The plumbing department had a lot of neat types of pipe and tubing, but everything seemed to be too flimsy or too big for what I needed. So I wandered down aisle after aisle until I hit the jackpot!
Yep — electrical conduit seemed to be the answer. It was cheap, rigid and precut. A guy working in that department tried to talk me OUT of using it, but now that I have it all set up I’m glad I ignored him and went with my gut.
Instructions to make your own ToA 2.0:
Purchase the following:
- Qty. 3 x 10 foot 1/2″ EMT Electrical Conduit (Approx $2.89 each)
- Qty. 2 x 1/2″ EMT Inside Corner Elbow (About $4.38 each — pictured nearby)
- Qty 2 x 5′ Light Duty Steel Fence Post (also known as a U-post, Approx. $2.47 each)
- Qty 1 x Nylon Trellis Netting (Purchase from box on upper right side of this page!)
- Qty 50 x 8″ Cable Ties (also called Zip Ties)
In addition to the above items you will need a sledge hammer, screwdriver, hacksaw, Sharpie and some scissors or wire cutters.
Drive the fence posts into the ground about 1 foot deep where you want the trellis to be placed. Try to keep them as vertical as possible. How far apart you place the posts determines how wide your trellis will be, so think about it a little before you do it — ie. don’t place them any wider than 10 feet apart!
The fence posts have a U-shaped channel running the length of them — hence the name U-post! Your vertical conduit poles will fit into this U-shaped channel quite nicely as pictured nearby. This is the KEY to the structural rigidity of this particular trellis — with 4 feet of fence post attached to the conduit poles it will probably take a hurricane to tip this over! (Update: We experienced hurricane-force 75 MPH+ winds in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike last year and the trellis did not move one inch!)
Before you attach the conduit poles to the U-post you should assemble the conduit frame and attach the trellis netting first. This eliminates the need to do all that assembly from the top of a ladder later!
Screw one of the elbows onto the end of one of the conduit pieces. Place the conduit piece across the 2 fence posts, taking care to align the empty part of the elbow with the u-channel. Align the other elbow with the u-channel of the opposite fence post and make a mark where you need to cut the conduit. It sounds strange to read, but when you get the pieces up there you will understand. Basically you need to cut the conduit crosspiece so when the vertical conduit poles are attached they will fit into the u-channels of the fence posts without anything getting bent. Just take your time and it will be easy — I was able to get a perfect fit the first time!
Use the hacksaw to cut the crosspiece at the mark you made (please use eye protection). Attach the remaining elbow on the crosspiece than go ahead and attach the 2 long conduit poles to the elbows. At this point you should have a giant U shape.
You are almost done! Attach the trellis netting to the conduit frame by either tying it in place or using the zip ties. You want the netting to be taught, but not so tight it bends the conduit. You will be cutting the net at this point — and that is OK. You will also probably need to attach the netting in 2 sections to get full coverage.
At this point you should have a trellis that is completely covered by taught netting from side-to-side and top-to-bottom. The trellis will be holding a lot of weight, so a little care now will prevent sagging and other issues later.
Now get a friend and carry the trellis into the garden and set the conduit poles into the u-shaped channel of the fence posts. Attach it using zip ties (wire or any other type of clamp could work too). And there you have it — your very own Super Sturdy Pole Bean Trellis!!!
Obviously there are many ways you could vary and customize this to suit your own needs. Pole beans just need vertical support so you could suspend strings from the top of the trellis instead of using netting. For cucumbers you could drive the fence posts in at an angle to make picking a little easier. The trellis netting is extremely strong, so you can pretty much grow anything without fear of breaking it.