Arched trellis from cattle panels

seedmama(7)March 8, 2008

I recently posted some of this information on another, largely lost and unrelated, thread in this forum. I've concluded it would be more searchable with its own thread. With all of us soon to need support for peas, tomatoes, sweet peas, purple hyacinth beans and more, I hope forum members agree it merits a stand alone thread.

This picture shows neonposey's purple hyacinth beans just getting started, and was taken before I planted the cukes. You'll also notice the cardboard in place waiting for wood chips, and a couple of bags of leaves. Too bad I didn't take an after pic because it really was pretty. This picture however, is probably better anyway because it shows the structure itself.

Last year I found a thread in the Vegetable Growing forum with detailed instructions for making an arch out of a cattle panel. At a cost of $14.88 each, they were cheap and easy. I used them to grow cucumbers. For beauty, I located them at the openings to my wooded paths and planted two purple hyacinth beans at the front opening.

It worked well enough that I planned to grow my sugar snap peas on them this winter, then switch the trellis to warm weather cukes again. I haven't actually sown the peas yet, but it might work for you.

I tried to locate the old thread for you, with the post from hunter_tx, but it is gone. I will try to explain it as well as she did, because it really is easy.

I was able to do the first one by myself, but found a partner really makes it easier. Put the cattle panel on a flat surface (concrete is better than grass). Working from the outside, fold one end to match the other. Have your partner hold the two ends together while you step a crease into the middle. Gloves are beneficial.

I found the arch to have its most pleasing proportions when the base was spaced exactly 5 feet wide. This also allowed me to drive my lawn tractor through. I used a couple of railroad ties to determine placement, holding them in place with stakes and setting the arch on the inside. I reached up to grab hold of the peak of the arch and pulled down to get the curve in the arch. Next I snipped the bottom horizontal row of wire away with bolt cutters. This left a series of vertical spikes which I shoved into the ground. Once it was anchored I removed the railroad ties to use on the next one.

I did one single this way and two doubles. I found that by putting two end to end I got a longer tunnel.

I really was easy, and cheap.

The following comments are responses to follow up questions:


I don't know if you can bring a cattle panel home in a van. The ones I bought were 52 inches wide by 16 feet long. The store had a policy against loading 16 foot long items into a pick up bed (good call) so I had to bring a trailer.

I bought mine at a local lumber yard called Lumber 2. They were also available at Atwood's...

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Thank you, Seedmama, for posting this. I'm going to show this to my hubby today. I think I might put one of these in the veggie bed, and one on our little walkway and climb some morning glories up the side...

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 2:47PM
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Love your arch! It really creates a nice entrance to your 'woodsy path'. :)

there is a thread about it in the vertical gardening forum.
Just thought that it would be another explanation.

Here is a link that might be useful: thread about cattle panel trellis'

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 5:36PM
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Awesome!!! Thanks for sharing seedmama, those are easy to find here. I'll be making a couple of those this spring.

Thanks to graylady for adding the original thread as well, I loved the pics :-)


    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 6:57PM
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Oh, I like that!

I'd love to copy but I think I've made the paths into my "woodland garden" too narrow. I'll live to regret that - I can only manage a wheelbarrow in there, not the garden cart I pull behind the riding mower. LOTS more hauling and hefting this way.

I need to look into that arbor of yours, though. Somehow I've managed to inherit a lot of seeds for vines this year. WHERE to put them!?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 7:09PM
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proudgm_03(6 MO)

I don't understand about putting a fold in your panel. How long of a panel did you use?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 11:08PM
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Yes, great idea!
I don't understand about not loading them into a pickup bed though. That's exactly how we've always brought them home...where ever that was at the time for construction of our dog areas. All you have to do is bring bright colored flags to attach to the panel ends and a few tie downs.

Proudgm...cattle panels are a standard 16' long and 2 choices of width of either apprx 2' or 4'...


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 12:36PM
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shasta_2008(5 NE Ohio)

What a great idea!! I have 3 entrys to my woods and was looking for ideas...and I was going to make a teepee out of young trees for cukes but I like this better, I LOVE the arch. Is there any possible way to bend this in the parking lot at the store to fit it into the truck? Or would we cature too much attention? LOL

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 1:25PM
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mboardman(z5 IN)

Thank you for posting your idea and photos. I too have been trying to figure out something for my potager. Below is a link from a thread posted earlier that shows some more great photos of rebar and pig fencing. They are very inspirational.

You'll see, this version involved welding. I didn't even want to bring up the subject with DH since he doesn't want do this. Your version is much easier.

Here is a link that might be useful: More trellis from fencing ideas

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 2:00PM
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Thanks greylady for posting an additional link. While it isn't the one I originally used for great directions, it does a much nicer job of showing the potential beauty of this cheap and easy arch.

Proudgm, the cattle panel is 16 feet long, so I refer to folding it end to end to get a crease at the 8 foot point . The crease defines where the peak of the arch is. I tried not creasing it just to see what a round top arch would look like. It didn't appeal to me, but it might be just the thing for you.

Shasta, the thread from greylady makes reference to folding in the parking lot, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I just didn't think of it. I'd probably still take a helper though. The employees at my particular lumber yard embody the fact that they have the cheapest prices in town. I wouldn't trust them to fold a one dollar bill. You can fold them almost completely flat because the fullness will come back when you pull down on the inplace arches from overhead. You'll still need tie downs.

The caution against hauling full length panels in a pick up is well founded. A standard pick up has a bed 8 feet long. That would leave a full 8 feet sticking out. Basic physics suggests it wouldn't be a well balanced load. If you live in a completely rural area where people are accustomed to red flags on loads, and farm equipment puttering down public highways you might chance it. For me, however, the road from lumber yard to home caters to a demographic blend of city slickers and county bumpkins. Store policy or no, I felt an 8 foot extension was just asking for an accident.

Shasta, you won't attract any more attention folding panels in the parking lot than you will pulling containers out of the recycle bin. Go for it!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 3:39PM
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Whenever we have bought them we have brought them home from the lumber yard in a pick up truck.
However, they always "rainbow" them in the back (they make an arch!) so there is no part hanging out the back, the tail gate holds them in.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:32PM
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zengeos(5 Maine)

This is exactly what I have been looking for! Only problem do I get them home? I'll need 5 or 6 to start....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:16PM
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zengeos(5 Maine)


Aren't they too wide to do that? 52" wide is wider than a pickup bed....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 10:48PM
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pogoduck(zone 4 North Dakota)

I love these. Here's a link to the cattle panel arch I made last fall.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 3:43AM
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zengeos(5 Maine) related to Bilbo Baggins?? :)

Love the arch where it bows out a little at the sides! Sure beats boring strait trellis any day!!!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:06AM
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You're method of "rainbowing" them makes perfect sense. That's what I love about this friendly forum members share with each other for the betterment of all! It also makes me glad I posted the photo to get the thread going, even though it wasn't a perfectly beautiful example, all neat and tidy. I'm also glad to know I don't have to drive all the way to Dad's, unload his trailer, go get my load, return the trailer and reload Dad's equipment. This way is much easier.

Think about the 52" running the LENGTH of the pickup. When you tuck each 52" end in along the length of the pickup it will automatically form the rainbow shape dirtbert is referring to, and will make your pickup resemble a covered wagon. Or maybe I'm mistaken about which way is best to position them. Maybe its a covered wagon turned 90 degrees?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 11:18AM
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mickey_dee2002(zone5 MI)

Just wondering if anyone knows of a source for the cattle panels in south central Michigan in the Lansing area?
Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 12:33PM
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I did a google search for "lansing michigan farm supply" and got 10 plus promising leads. Three of them are local Tractor Supply Company locations.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:16PM
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