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Kitchen Gardening

Build an A-Frame Tomato Trellis

This freestanding structure can be taken apart and stored over the winter.

  • Download the trellis project plan (pdf).
    Photo/Illustration: Michael Gellatly
  • Slow and steady drilling will keep the bit from wandering.
    Photo/Illustration: Boyd Hagen
  • Placing some of the screws off-center lessens the liklihood that the top cross bar might split.
    Photo/Illustration: Boyd Hagen
  • Lettering the trellis parts makes for easier setup; setting the A-frame 8 in. into the ground makes for a sturdy trellis.
    Photo/Illustration: Janet Jemmott

by Peter Coe
July 1997
from issue #9

I designed this A-frame trellis to be a freestanding, stable structure that could be taken apart and stored over the winter. If treated with a wood preservative and stored in a dry place, the trellis will last 5 to 10 years. I grow five tomato plants on each 10-ft. long trellis. With any luck, and good weather, the plants will reach the top bar by August.

Download the trellis project plan (pdf).

Helpful hints
1. Don’t forget to cut and place those right-angle blocks. They provide structural stability that keeps the trellis from racking.

2. Drill pilot holes in the braces of the A-frame; put the screws in later.

If you want to use wood preservative, do so before assembly. If you don’t want to treat the wood, you can use redwood, ceddar, white oak, or locust, all woods that’ll take the elements for some time.

4. Steel pins are durable and strong, but if you don’t want to cut steel rod, use 1/4-in. wooden dowels. Bevel the edges so the dowel will fit in with a few taps of a hammer.

5. It’s easiest to assemble the A-frames on a flat surface. Then, when you’re ready to put the whole trellis together, have someone hold up the A-frames while you line up the holse in the ends of the trellis bars with the pins.

1 8-ft. 2×4
1 10-ft. 2×4
2 12-ft. 2x3s
1 10-ft. 2×3
3/8-in steel rod (sold in 36-in. lengths), or 1/4-in. wooden dowels about 1 ft. long.
26 2-1/2-in. galvanized drywall screws, about 1/4 lb.
2 4-in. galvanized drywall screws
Nylon mason’s twine or durable string.

Tablesaw with a miter gauge, a compound miter saw, or a protractor and handsaw
Drill with 3/16-in. and 3/8-in. drill bits
Phillips screwdriver
Hacksaw and file, if using steel rod

Learn more about the advangages of trellising tomatoes…

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