Build an A-Frame Tomato Trellis

comments (8) March 15th, 2009

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Download the trellis project plan (pdf).
Slow and steady drilling will keep the bit from wandering.
Placing some of the screws off-center lessens the liklihood that the top cross bar might split.
Lettering the trellis parts makes for easier setup; setting the A-frame 8 in. into the ground makes for a sturdy trellis.
Download the trellis project plan (pdf).Click To Enlarge

Download the trellis project plan (pdf).

Photo: Michael Gellatly

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. 2x4
1 10-ft. 2x4
2 12-ft. 2x3s
1 10-ft. 2x3
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...

After you try it, show it off to other members in the
gardener's gallery.
Post your photos

posted in: tomatoes, Projects, trellis

Comments (8)

silaswren writes: Brilliant Work.. well done
Posted: 12:50 am on October 10th
Goatessa writes: I'm using cages made from 4 to 5 feet high fencing (with 6" squares), but I will have to try this next year! This idea looks like it could work well as a cold frame to start or extend the harvest, with a clear plastic tarp... Any thoughts or experience with that?
Posted: 10:18 pm on June 2nd
Anniebooboo writes: We made this trellis and it sways from side to side. Pete, or someone, would you explain what you mean by

"first, I canted the ends in a bit, by making the top chord shorter than the bottom. This gave me better stability, I think, and less likelihood to sway to either end" ?

I like the lattice part and will hang some on both ends.

Posted: 10:51 am on June 2nd
mrgardenboy writes: I have something similar to this but for cheaper for only $6.50 At Your Local Lowe's Store they have a big green trellis here yoy can weave your tomato plant throught the trellis this works better than tomato cages.Also at ACO Hardware or Wal-Mart In the back of the store by the shepard's hook's they have these big tall green stakes for only .98cents each but it is not as good as the trellis at lowes they should have them right by the cash registers hope this works!
Posted: 9:43 am on July 7th
Ruth writes: patsojud, this blog post comes from an old Kitchen Gardener article, and we posted all the info we have. Have you printed out the plan ( If I were building this, I'd start with the end assemblies. It's more important that they match each other than that they be cut to precise dimensions. But then again, I'm in the habit of cobbling things together. After all, this is a garden trellis, not museum-quality art.
Posted: 9:39 am on April 6th
patsojud writes: I have bought all of the materials for the frame but the instructions are not complete. Can you post a step by step with dimensions? Thanks.
Posted: 9:06 pm on April 3rd
Pete_99 writes: I built this trellis, roughly following your plan, and it's still early in the season so we'll have to see how it works out (been cool and rainy here -- not the best tomato weather). I did a few things differently, though -- first, I canted the ends in a bit, by making the top chord shorter than the bottom. This gave me better stability, I think, and less likelihood to sway to either end. Second, I put strips of lattice up across the end struts in order to use them as additional trellis space in my cramped community garden. I think this adds potential to your design in any situation. Finally, I used these strips to tie horizontal strings (woven on either side of the vertical strings) to add more plant support.

I'll let you know how it works out. Thanks for the idea. Passersby sure seem to like it.

Boston, MA
Posted: 2:20 am on July 2nd
pinkgingerlily writes: Love the twine idea! And your trellis is beautiful.. but for those of us without tools and cash for wood there is a cheaper way. Lots of Crazy people in the south have planted bamboo...its pretty until it gets 15ft. tall and takes over. Then they are looking for someone to cut it and take it away. It can be cut with just about any kind of saw. people are happy if you take a little or alot. I tie it together with wire which is easily taken apart in the fall. Last yr. I made about several sections about 8ft. long and 7ft.high. It did partially blow down when Hurricane Ike came through so this yr. I will stake the corners. Sorry I don't know how to do the picture thing.
Posted: 5:38 pm on March 20th
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