Pinterest (almost two years ago) was this grape trellis made of rebar from homedecorreport.com. One based on this idea has been on Herb's Honey-Do list ever since, but things like a milking parlor, a stanchion, a shelter for a baby bull and new fencing kept pushing it down on the list. Recently I thought of asking our great lawn care man, Randy of By The Yard, if he would make it. Randy was willing to tackle the job with his cousin Steven, so we set Saturday, April 5 for the project.
- 12 welded wire cattle panels (First stop TSC where they went on the bottom of the trailer)
- 11 x 10' lengths of half inch iron pipe, cut in half to make 22 x 5' pipes (Lowe's cut these for free. We realized later that we should have asked them to ream the pipe because the machine made the end that it cut smaller in diameter on the inside, but we simply put the cut end in the ground, leaving the open, threaded end on top. We originally planned to get galvanized pipe, but it was more than twice the price. Since our arbor is behind a barn, economy won out over aesthetics.)
- 11 x 20' of half inch rebar (Gloves were a help in handling this because it really stained hands with something that was coating it.)
- 1 roll of fencing wire that bends easily with a pliers (With as many places as need to be wired together, you do not want to use wire that is a struggle to wrap.)
Between us we had all the tools we needed:
- bolt cutter for cutting cattle panels as needed
- wire cutter
- pliers for twisting wire
- T-post puller (see Kubota tractor, also)
- heavy chain
- fence post driver
- Kubota tractor with hay spear or bucket (not essential, but very helpful!)
- four electric fence posts or other stakes
- hay twine or other string
- two T-squares, optional
- two large concrete blocks, optional
Under Randy's direction from the Kubota, Steven hooked the chain tightly to itself at the bottom of the post and spiraled it up and around toward the top.
Safety First! Note the electric and phone lines in the foreground. The phone line is dead, but we were very careful not to hammer anything metal into the ground near the electric line. Fortunately, the trench where it is buried is easy to see and it wasn't anywhere close to where we wanted our supports.
Electric fence posts and hay twine were a handy way to mark our line.
Randy placed a 5' pipe over the selected spot, and Steven hammered it in with the fence post driver. When Randy measured 42" of pipe above ground, they knew it was in 18" deep. Once it was in they could tug it in any direction needed to straighten it.
We ended up eye-balling between the two sides to see if each pair of pipes was square. Randy made me the final authority. Looking at them later, I could see I must have been seeing cock-eyed! ;)
It occurred to me belatedly that we could have used T-squares along the two side strings and pulled another string between them to make sure the pipes were placed square. If perfect symmetry is important, you might want to add that step. I figure once the vines grow all over the arbor, no one's ever going to notice!
In retrospect, it would have been much easier to go with a 48' arbor since 3 x 16' cattle panels = 48'. We wanted the arbor to be the same length as the barn, but a foot less either way wouldn't really have been noticeable. We lived and learned, so you don't have to!
The cattle panels held in place very well, but later on when Randy put all his weight on the bottom of one and stepped on it, it shifted downward slightly. So he opted to go back and add another length of tightly-wound wire around the rebar just above each pipe. That prevented any further downward shift.
Here are Steven and Randy in front of our great new arbor! They did an amazing job in less than six hours. I hope the grapevines appreciate everything the guys did for them and give us a really grape crop this fall in exchange!