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My new kiwi arbor

Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 10, 13 at 2:10

A few days ago, I completed my new hardy kiwi arbor. I think that is what it is called...or is it a trellis...a pergola?

Earlier this year, I got some trees removed, though there are still more in the neighbors' yards. After that, I got the old wooden fence replaced with vinyl. Once all this was done there was now an empty space in the yard (as well as my wallet). The remaining trees in the adjacent yards provide more shade than I would like for fruit trees, so hardy kiwi were a good option.

I already have 5 kiwi vines in another part of the yard, which I planted several years ago. I was too tight on space, interpreting the instructions far too liberally ("space 10' apart on a trellis" became "space 10' from the next kiwi, without a proper trellis and cram a few other plants in between them". While I didn't have any trellis (other than the stake they came from the nursery with) the first year, I did get a single wire up for the 2nd year, strung on 7' U-posts for some and 10.5' galvanized top rails for others. Even so, they are proving difficult to contain and are reaching out 5+ feet in places.

I don't normally do much construction or working with tools (other than computers...), but I wanted to do better this time. So rather than using any wires, I used a chain link framework. I made two 10.5' squares, which share one side. The support posts are 8' long galvanized 1 5/8" poles. So, the total area is just over 200 square feet. My wife is adamantly against the use of any concrete (she doesn't want removal issues someday), so I hand dug each post hole to around 2' deep and pounded rocks in on all sides to keep things steady. Once in a while I'd hit a very large rock while digging, but I was able to get most of them out (some with great difficulty and a 5' iron pry bar). Only once did I need to move the hole a few inches and didn't need to break out the sledge hammer.

When I started, it hadn't occurred to me that no matter how carefully you measure the holes, some cutting of the top rails (galvanized 1 3/8") will be needed because they have a small end which is designed to fit into another rail. When you want it to fit into the little cup ("rail end", I think), the little part should be removed. As I worked, I realized that I should aim to have the post holes a few inches closer together, as I can cut extra off the rail, but it is harder to make it grow. A hacksaw (borrowed from my father) can cut it, but it is plenty of work. Of the 11 rails, 9 of them needed cutting (2 fit into the other rails in the 21' runs).

I got 4 kiwi vines from Rolling River Nursery, as they sent relatively large potted plants last time I ordered kiwis. That they are potted is important for this time of year. I got 3 varieties I didn't already have and another male, as this part of the yard is far enough away that I can't count on pollination.

I set things up so that each kiwi can take two 10.5' sections, though they are only spread about 3' apart, so it may eventually tangle a bit on itself. I kept the two rows 4.5' apart, with a grass pathway down the middle. I think I'll be able to mow this, while keeping the rows covered in wood chips (I haven't finished the mulching yet). If that proves difficult once they get growing, I'll just wood-chip the whole area. I plan to let the male only take one 10' section, rather than the two which each female vine gets. So, while the male gets the inside track, I can take the extra outside 10' rail for one of the females- Rossana is best positioned for it.

I was again happy with the plants from Rolling River. Jumbo is already living up to it's name, as the plant is quite large (though it was named for the fruit size).

Hardy Male

Here's a diagram of the arbor.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: My new kiwi arbor

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 10, 13 at 2:16

Here's a picture of it.

RE: My new kiwi arbor

Good job man. Sometimes these projects look so simple but a lot of work can go into them.

RE: My new kiwi arbor

Amen to that brother! I do everything backwards. I think if I did things right and had everything ready, as in ground prepared and trellises up, I would just get discouraged and talk myself out of the project. If I hadn't already bought trees, thinking that removing 13 mature trees really couldn't be that hard to get out, I would have just given up. It took about 3 years to do what It thought would take a couple of months.

Congrats on getting a trellis ready before they are too big!

RE: My new kiwi arbor

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 10, 13 at 13:55

Getting the trellis/arbor in place before planting was definitely a good move. If I had done it in the other order, I would probably damaged several of the plants in the process. There was enough mayhem as it was, without worrying about hurting the plants.

One thing I didn't mention which has caused me some pain is the height of the trellis. I'm just over 6' tall and I sank the 8' poles 2' into the ground. That puts the horizontal bars at around 5'11", just right to be blocked out by the bill of my hat, yet still impact my head. I lost count after hitting my head more than a dozen times. I'm not sure what I could have done differently (aside from ducking...), as I wouldn't want to make the structure less stable by burying any shallower or use the thinner poles as posts. I suppose I could have tried to find taller poles, though I used the longest I found at the local HomeDepot.

I did order the plants in late June, thinking I would put it up the next weekend. It turned out to be a longer, iterative project, with at least 4 trips to the hardware store.

RE: My new kiwi arbor

Looks like an interesting approach. My hardy kiwis are on a 3-post trellis (picture) and my fuzzy kiwis on a pergola on my new patio (picture).

RE: My new kiwi arbor

Fuzzy kiwi and his two girl friends.

RE: My new kiwi arbor

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 12:22


How many hardy kiwi do you have on the 3 post trellis and how long is it? It looks a bit like what I did originally, though yours is probably more sturdy. With it so close to the fence, it's got to be tough to keep them from reaching far into the neighbors yard.

That pergola looks like a much more serious undertaking. It is very attractive/decorative, unlike mine which is ugly, yet (hopefully) functional.

RE: My new kiwi arbor

I have room for 3 or 4 hardy kiwis on the trellis. There are about 15 feet between posts. One of the spots is taken up by a grape which I may pull up ned year and replace with a kiwi. I have a good neighbor and I keep them cut out of her way. I don't have a lot of room and have sqweezed in a lot of fruit. I am looking for room for pomagranite and blackberries.

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