As I reorganized the shop this winter I happened upon a few sections of 2¼” schedule 40 PVC pipe from the props Shawn and I designed for a children’s musical at church some years back. I am not sure any plumber would install painted pipes, and I felt rotten about tossing them into the dumpster at the solid waste center. Using Pinterest as my creative pallet I browsed garden projects built with PVC pipe. I pieced together a couple of designs to create a trellis to support the bumper crop of cucumbers I am expecting this year.
We found a spot last summer between the climbing rose bush and the porch railing where a cucumber vine growing in a container produced a small harvest. What a joy to share fresh organic cucumbers with friends and neighbors!
This year I am preparing a small plot rather than farm cucumbers in a pot. A heaping helping of compost and leaf mulch has been improving the soil over the winter, and I am gardening by faith that we will need a strong support system for the produce.
Schedule 40 PVC can support several vines, and as it can be painted to blend with the surroundings, it will make for a nearly invisible trellis.
Will these scribbles and calculations of a mad DIY guy ever make the Smithsonian? I doubt it, but can testify to the value of paper and pencil for hashing out a plan.
PVC pipe is easily cut with a hacksaw or, if your favorite carpenter is not watching, chop it on his miter saw. Support the work appropriately and enlist help as needed. A 10’ section of pipe certainly exhibits flex and wiggle.
PVC glue emits a strong odor and is best used with adequate ventilation. Once the glue is applied to the pipe and connectors you have seconds to make the joint so be prepared to move quickly.
I cut the parts then dry fit to check my measurements before opening the glue.
In olden days this stiff wire served as the family clothes dryer. Upscale installations might have wrapped the wire around a pair of pulleys so the clothes could be pinned to the line from one spot. Lower-tech installations strung wire between two trees or poles and the laundry person moved down the line to hang the wash. Today’s Home Owners Association rules forbid such unsightly displays of clean laundry.
Use your creativity to clamp the pipes together for consistent marking of the holes to be drilled. The wood clamp idea was not as stable as the duct tape solution. I chose a ¼” drill bit for my holes. Measure, check, and then drill through the pipe.
Wipe the surface of the trellis with mineral spirits to remove any oils. Painting the assembled frame required a custom solution. I supported the trellis with a rope from one ladder while painting the high spots from a second ladder.
Hunter green is my color of choice. Quality spray paint that dries quickly with minimal runs allowed me to beat the impending storm. I had the painted trellis back in the shop before the rain drops fell.
Cut the clothes line wire long enough to:
- Span the trellis.
- Wrap around the pipe on both ends.
- Twist around itself to secure the span.
Do not pull the strands too taught or the PVC frame will bend.
At each junction of the vertical and horizontal strands fold an 8” piece of smaller gauge wire in half and twist the heavy wires together as shown. I had green Bell Telephone wire which matched fairly well. The trellis should look like an old bed spring when it is finished.
After a few minutes with a shovel, tape measure, and a level my trellis stands upright and ready for customers. I can taste those cucumbers now.