Trellis Arch Tunnel

On Friday, I constructed a trellis arch tunnel at my Newark Street Community Garden plot. It's been years since I designed and built any large structure for gardening purposes.

This one, however, seems a bit more functional--and in a few months, perhaps it'll be decorative, as well. It's 6 feet tall, 6 feet long, and about 2 feet wide. I have fencing tied to the frame using twine and lots and lots of knots. Because of the community garden rules, I can't reasonably grow my hops up the fence that borders my plot, nor my chayote, grapes, or even beans. The deer will eat them, the plants may block other gardeners' light--and besides, who gets to choose which gardener is allowed to grow vines up a shared fence? So, really, this trellis tunnel is a concession to fairness--I get to grow a ton of awesome vining plants; enjoy a cool, shaded spot in the middle of the summer; and my fellow gardeners will not have my vigorous growers sending creeping tendrils into their plots.

If you're interested in constructing your own, here's the supply list and instructions. I kind of developed the idea on Tuesday, went to Home Depot on Wednesday to see what they had available, modified the design after seeing the supplies, and built the thing in about 2 hours (most of that was tying the fencing to the poles--zip ties would have been much faster and easier!).

For a 6-foot-long, 6-foot-tall trellis arch tunnel, I used:
  • 8 1'-long pieces of PVC (or whatever you'd like to use, really)
  • 9 2'-long pieces of PVC
  • 16 3'-long pieces of PVC
  • 3 T connectors
  • 9 X connectors
  • (I used 3 Ts and 9 Xs because I want the opportunity to extend the trellis later--but if 6 feet is long enough for you, get 6 Ts and 6 Xs.)
  • 8 elbow connectors
  • 3-foot by 50-foot fencing with 2-inch by 4-inch mesh to prevent damage to visiting wildlife that can get tangled in smaller mesh
  • Twine (not pictured)
The supplies cost about $90 at Home Depot, plus two cab rides (one home, one to the garden) for a whopping total of $110. But I would have had to spend about $450 plus taxes and delivery to get the same length and height of a trellis arch tunnel using preconstructed options. Yeah, mine doesn't look fancy--but I like it, and it was completely out of my own head, so there's that.

If your PVC is cut at an angle, it's not a big deal.

Because you'll just be sticking it inside the connectors.

Step 1 is attaching two 1-foot-long pieces to a T connector and adding elbow connectors on the ends. This will be the top part of your trellis arch tunnel, at the entrance/exit portion. Do a second one if you're going to "close" your arch on the other end.

Then you have to do the same using X connectors and the elbow connectors, for as many arches that you're going to use. These will be the top parts of the arch on the inside of the tunnel.

Next, stick a 2-foot piece in the first T connector, then stick that into an X connector. Keep the elbow connectors pointing down (twist them if you need to). Repeat this until you have something that looks like a flattened rib cage. This will be the top of your arch, which I prepared first for some reason.

Next, stick a 3-foot section of PVC into the ground a couple of inches. You can anchor it with a stake or something if you like, but I didn't. I am planning to come back and attach it to the wood surrounding the plot beds. Then stick on a T connector and another 3-foot section above that.

To get the sides of the trellis arch tunnel, add a 2-foot piece of PVC to the T connector that you just erected, then using more 3-foot PVC pieces and X connectors, build a row. Repeat on the other side of the path or wherever you're building your arch, leaving about 2 feet between the sides.

Attach the flattened-rib-cage trellis-arch top. Take a little breather to enjoy the beauty of what you stuck together in just a few minutes.

Roll out your fencing and drape it over the trellis frame. Line up the edge of the fencing with the soil line on one side of the trellis and attach the fence loosely to the trellis. Snip off the fencing roll at the appropriate point on the other side of the trellis, and go to town with the twine to tie up that fencing and make sure it will stay put. Repeat as needed until your trellis is covered in fencing for vining plants to climb.

Last step? Plant some vining plants! My hops are doing pretty well--once I have tubs large enough to grow them in for a full season, they're going straight to the garden and set right next to this trellis!

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One Response to Trellis Arch Tunnel

  1. Kenneth it looks great! Sorry I didn't get back to your comment the other day, I even put it off "til later" so I could give an unhurried response LOL and them promptly ADD'd out :) This one looks great, and you'll be able to grow several things on there. I can imagine it's tough to figure out all the in's and out's of gardening so close to others, but I know it will work out and look great in a couple months!



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