Square Foot Gardening: How to Construct Sturdy, Economical Trellises for Climbing Crops

Square Foot Gardening

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As you may know by now, we’ve undertaken two key experiments in our organic vegetable garden this year.

You might want to read these two posts for the background story: Sneak Peak: This Year’s Garden Experiment and This Year’s Garden Experiments, Take Two.

Our first experiment revolves around a concept called Square Foot Gardening.  (See book recommendation at the end of this post.)  After installing the raised boxes and special soil mix, we needed trellises for climbing crops like zucchini and pumpkins.

Want to know how we built them?  Read on!

How to Construct Sturdy, Economical Trellises for Climbing Crops
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How to Construct Sturdy, Economical Trellises for Climbing Crops


  • 1/2″ electrical conduit (made of steel)–about $2 each.
  • PVC elbow connectors–also $2 each.
  • rebar–we used 4′ sections, which cost $3 each.
  • nylon gardening grid–about $5.
  • Helpful: something to tie the netting onto the trellis–we used zip ties.

Square Foot Gardening--Trellis Materials
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Before you begin:

  1. Purchase materials.
    For each trellis you will need:
    • (2) pieces of rebar
    • (2) 6′ pieces of electrical conduit*
    • (1) 4′ piece of conduit*
    • (2) elbow connectors
    • (1) nylon netting
    *We purchased 10′ sections of conduit and Mr. NT cut them into 4′ and 6′ lengths.
  2. Assemble tools.
    Mr. NT used a saws-all to cut the conduit, with a special blade for cutting metal.
    He used a hammer to pound the rebar into the ground.


Trellises should be placed on the north side of a raised box.  This will prevent the climbers from casting shade on the plants around them.  (Most vegetables and herbs love all the sun they can get.)


1.  Use a hammer to pound two pieces of rebar into the ground, one at each corner on the north side of your wooden box (outside the box, as shown below).

Square Foot Gardening--Rebar
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2.  Slide one 6′ piece of conduit over each piece of rebar.

3.  Attach two elbows (one at each end) to the 4′ piece of conduit.

4.  Attach 4′ horizontal piece of conduit to 6′ vertical pieces of conduit by securing the elbows.

Square Foot Gardening--Conduit Connected with Elbows
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In our experience, it’s MUCH easier to do this part after the 6′ pieces of conduit are already standing (after you slide them over the rebar in step 2), but this is how the trellis should look at this point.

5.  Attach nylon netting to the trellis frame with leftover pieces of netting (that you cut off one end of the netting, if desired) or something else (like our zip ties).

Voila!  Super-sturdy climbing supports for vining crops.

We’ll let you know how this part of the first experiment works out…. UPDATE: Our trellises have weathered three years of climbing crops and are still going strong!  These babies are solid.

And stay tuned for Garden Experiment Número Dos, including all the gory details (really) of how it all went amiss. Don’t worry, this part is back on track now, too, and I’ll keep you posted on our progress as the growing season continues here at homestead.

Note:  We followed the instructions in Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening.

If you’ve had success climbing vining crops, we’d love to hear about it!  Share your tips below…
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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. kathy on 06/03/2013 at 4:40 pm

    I did Square Foot gardening one house ago when I actually had sun. It was very effective. K

    • Kathleen on 06/03/2013 at 6:58 pm

      Good to know! Now I know who to call when we have questions… 🙂

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