A simple garden trellis project [Redux]

The renovation of our garden continues. When Joy Creek Nursery had to remove an old rhododendron from what will become an outdoor kitchen area, a beautiful purple clematis lost its natural trellis. The old rhody found a new home out in the Joy Creek gardens, after being the model for a pruning class. The clematis, and several other plants, sat above ground, basically bare root, for a couple months before finding new homes among the revised hardscape.

I couldn't find trellises that I liked for the clematis. Most cost several hundred dollars and had patterns I didn't really want incorporated into our gardenscape. I roughed out a design on my computer for a set of trellises to be made out of copper pipe. My partner, Ed, previously made an arbor in a similar manner several years ago when he was practicing his copper pipe work prior to re-plumbing our home.

The trellises were designed to be approximately five feet wide and stand a total of five feet above the surface of the garden bed.

The materials needed for one trellis are:

• 8 pieces of 1/2 inch copper pipe cut to 24 inch lengths (you will want to use the thickest 1/2 inch pipe for added strength)

• 8 pieces of 1/2 inch copper pipe cut to 20 inch lengths

• 2 pieces of 1/2 inch copper pipe cut to 12 inch lengths

• 2 copper corner joints for 1/2 inch pipe

• 10 copper "tee" joints for 1/2 pipe

• 2 pieces of 3/8 inch rebar cut to 4 foot lengths

• 1 piece 1/4 inch copper tubing 5 feet in length

• 2 small metal screws 1/2 to 5/8 inches in length

The tools needed include:

• a handheld pipe cutter (available at the hardware store)

• the necessary solder and soldering equipment

• steel wool, sandpaper or a tool made for roughing up the pipe surfaces to be joined

• a container of flux and the necessary brush for "painting" it on the copper tubing

• a pair of gloves with a non-skid palm surface for assistance in holding the pipe while it is being cut

I cut all the copper lengths. On the flat surface of my patio, I then prefit all the pieces together to make sure all were correct and my trellis was going to be square. Ed then help me rough up all services that were to be soldered, but flux on both surfaces to be joines and soldered the frame at each joint. (many home improvement websites and books have great detail about the soldering process.)

I then formed the 5 foot length of 1/4 copper tubing into a spiral shape to serve as the centerpiece design element of the trellis. Spirals and swirls are patterns that have been repeated throughout our home in light fixtures, switchplate covers, light fixtures, fabrics, glassware, eating/serving utensils, dishes, interior art, garden art and elsewhere. Where the tubing was to meet the frame, I crimped the tubing flat with plyers and then drilled a hole (just smaller than the selected screws) through the flattened tupping and the "tee" joint where the swirl would be joined to the frame. The swirl was then screwed tightly into place.

Two pieces of rebar were then stuck about 1 foot into the ground at the distance determined by the width of the finished trellis. The finished trellis end pieces, or legs, where then forced over the rebar and pushed down to ground level. The previously homeless clematis was then planted in front of the trellis and I wove the new growth through the copper trellis frame.

The process was then duplicated for a second matching trellis. The plants seem very happy with their new homes - and I have trellises that also serve as garden art. I was thrilled that the finished trellises cost about $50 a piece in materials - due in part to the fact we already had the soldering supplies in our personal tool library - and were only a project of a few hours.

Note: You might also want to check out my copper and bronze hose guard and flower pot patio umbrella stand projects.

© 2010 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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