Earlier this week we posted a video on making a cattle panel trellis hoop over two garden beds, greatly increasing the potential growing space.
Cattle panels are sturdy once placed properly – and they last a long, long time!
As Sarah comments:
“To emphasize your point on these things lasting forever: As a kid in the 90s every summer I’d help my grandparents in the garden, cattle panel trellises absolutely laden with cucumbers and tomatoes. When they passed away, I requested to inherit the panels lest they end up in the trash, and have been using them every year in my own garden over twenty years later. Yeah, growing heirlooms on heirlooms.”
In the past we’ve used many types of trellises, some of which worked better than others. We used sticks to make teepees, cut bamboo and wove it together, used an old bed frame, and stuck individual limbs in the ground as poles for yams to climb.
In the third world cattle panels and T-posts were not available, so we had to use what we could find. It took a lot of time to cut all those sticks!
But cattle panels make really nice trellises. Step-by-step, here’s how you build a hoop trellis from a standard 16′ x 50″ cattle panel.
Building a Hoop Style Cattle Panel Trellis
First, pick your space for the trellis. The base of the arch needs 7-8′ of width. We make ours 7′ across, as that fits perfectly from the center of one Grocery Row Garden bed, across the path, and then to the center of a second Grocery Row Garden bed.
At the spot where you want each side to touch the ground, hammer in two stakes to brace your cattle panel.
These two stakes need to be about 3′ apart, as your cattle panel is 50″ wide. Just reckon it will overlap your stakes on either side be a few inches to a foot or so.
Now put two more stakes where you want the other side to sit. About 7′ away, opposite your first two.
Then, put the first side of the panel down on the ground and push it against the first pair of stakes.
The rest of it can then be walked up and fit into the second pair of stakes in the second bed.
Push it up tightly against the stakes and make sure it looks good and is nice and even.
Now you have an arch. A somewhat wobbly arch, but it’s still an arch. To make it sturdy, hammer in a T-post in the middle of each side, like this:
We used six-foot T-posts and hammered them half-way into the ground. Once they’re in, zip-tie your T-posts to the cattle panel.
Ta-da! Now you have a complete cattle panel arch trellis.
This type of arch trellis gives you a fun and efficient space to grow beans, cucumbers, true yams, Malabar spinach, cucuzza squash, loofa or whatever your heart desires.
But what if you don’t have a double bed like this, or space to fit a big arch, or a way to move huge full-sized cattle panels into your yard?
In that case, you might like this second method of making a cattle panel trellis.
Single Bed Vertical Cattle Panel Trellises
Another type of cattle panel trellis I like to make for tighter spaces looks like this:
It’s just a single panel, attached to one T-post, and cut carefully so it really sinks into the ground and stays put. You can see my entire photo-essay on how to build one here.
A Third Cattle Panel Trellis Idea
Another way to build effective cattle panel trellises in long beds is to elevate the entire panel sideways along a series of T-posts, like this:
I wrote more on this design and share more pictures in this post. Raising the panel above the ground gives plants more climbing room and makes it easy to weed underneath. Plus, a 16′ long trellis is nothing to scoff at! That’s a lot of beans.
Cattle panels last a long, long time. They cost more than building trellises from sticks and string, but they save a lot of effort over the years since you never need to rebuild them.
Do you have any more good cattle panel trellis ideas? Please share them in the comments!