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Build an A-Frame Tomato Trellis

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

Illustration: Michael Gellatly

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.

3. If you want to use wood preservative, do so before assembly. If you don’t want to treat the wood, you can use redwood, cedar, white oak, or locust, all woods that will hold up under the elements.

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 dowels 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 holes in the ends of the trellis bars with the pins.

drilling to build the a-frame tomato trellis
Slow and steady drilling will keep the bit from wandering. Photo: Boyd Hagen

place screws off center
Placing some of the screws off-center lessens the likelihood that the top cross bar might split. Photo: Boyd Hagen

setting up the a-frame tomato trellis
Lettering the trellis parts makes for easier setup; setting the A-frame 8 in. into the ground makes for a sturdy trellis. Photo: Janet Jemmott

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


This article originally appeared in Kitchen Gardener #9.

Previous: A Freestanding Tomato Trellis Improves Yields and Keeps the Garden Neat Next: What’s Wrong With Your Tomatoes?
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