Grow Vertical With This DIY A-Frame
I’m adding things I want to grow faster than space to grow them. Every year I run out of room in the garden and try to find more efficient ways to grow things. Growing vertical is one of the ways to make great use of the space you have and keep produce off the ground (better air circulation, possibly fewer bugs too). Years ago, my handy husband came up with a design for a simple A frame trellis. I’ve used two of them every year and they have held up very well. This year I decided to build 3 more. This is why I like them:
- inexpensive (build one for about $20)
- heavy enough to stand up to Kansas wind without staking. There are very few places in my yard I can pound in a stake more than a few inches because it is full of rocks!
- heavy enough to hold a lot of vines and their fruit
- moveable when you rotate crops
- adjustable width
- store flat at the end of the season
- versitle-use a string, net or wire trellis
Here’s what you’ll need for one A frame:
(2) 4 inch bolts
(2) nuts that fit your bolts
(2) locking washers
(12 to 16) deck screws 3 inch) Two screws are needed on each side of the bottom cross bar but you can get by with one each side on the top.
(26) nails and string or netting, chicken wire or other fencing – I used the nails and string
Here is a close up of the hardware. I might be frustrating the very detailed personalities among you but honestly I scrounged through the workbench and used whatever hardware I could find. The bolts just need to be long enough to go through the thickness of two 2×4’s stacked.
Cut each board into a 5 foot and a 3 foot length
Stack two of the 5 foot pieces and make the bottom ends even if your cuts aren’t exact. Drill a hole big enough for your bolt through both pieces about 3 inches from the top and centered. Place the bolt and washers through the 2x4s in this order: Bolt, washer, 2×4, two washers, 2×4, washer, locking washer, nut. This allows the “legs” to swivel open and closed. Repeat for the other two 5 foot pieces.
Lay the “double ” legs on the floor, parallel and about 26″ apart. This measurement is not critical. It depends on how much of the cross bar you want to extend beyond the legs if any. I made mine so that the cross bar extended a couple of inches on each side. This extension makes the A frame easier to handle and set in place. I placed the bottom cross bar about a foot from the bottom and top cross bar about 5 inches down from the top. If your top cross bar is too close to the top it will limit how wide you can open the A frame (found that out the hard way). Use the deck screws to attach the cross bars to just the outside legs at the top and bottom. I found that two screws were needed at the bottom for stability but you could get by with only one at the top. Flip the whole thing over and repeat but this time attach the cross bars to just the inside legs.
Attach your trellis of choice. I nailed 7 nails into the bottom cross bar and 6 into the top cross bar. This way when you srting the nails it will create a v pattern that is wonderful for holding vines and very easy to train the vines up the trellis. It is also quite easy to remove dead vines at the end of the season. I’ve also used a net trellis by just draping the corner of the net over the top and bottom nails. I have been tempted to add a horizontal string across the bottom, below the first cross bar because some plants take a while to reach up to the cross bar. But, keeping the cross bar at the one foot height helps them fit better in the raised beds.
That’s it! Your are done. Place the A frame in your garden, adjusting the width to your beds. You can use one side or both. Sometimes my vines will grow up one side and drape over the other side. One of my favorite ways to save space in the garden is to have one set of legs in the raised bed and the other side sitting outside the bed, or creating a bridge between beds.
Here are a few pictures from last year just for fun.
This year I plan to use the A frames for watermelon, cantaloupes, climbing zucchini and cucumbers. The green beans are staked with cheap tiki torches from the clearance bin. I’m going to try staking my tomatoes with stakes pounded in the ground and hope for a spot with no rocks. I should probably have a plan B ready.