Frugal Gardening: How to Construct a Tee-Pee Trellis for about $5

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I recently launched a new spring series called Frugal Gardening. You can watch for new posts in this series each Monday and Friday and an update on my own garden each Tuesday. In case you missed them, you can go back and read previous posts and updates on my Frugal Gardening page.

Building a Tee-Pee Trellis: Step by Step

If you have limited growing space in your garden, consider what crops you can grow UP instead of OUT. Plants such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes and some flowers such as sweet peas and nasturtium can all climb if you let them! Last year was my first year dabbling in vertical gardening and this year I hope to conduct a couple additional experiments (posts to follow).

Today I’d like to share a simple, no-tool method for constructing a functional and attractive trellis. Even better, this quick project won’t set you back more than about $5!


What you’ll need:

  • 3 pieces of bamboo per trellis
  • Heavy-duty twine and scissors

Time involved: about 5-10 minutes per trellis

I found the bamboo at the Garden Center of my Fred Meyer store last year. It’s tucked outside WAY in the back, behind the planters and near the tomato cages. The awesome part? The bamboo starts at just a little more than $1 per stake making it perfect for the frugal gardener! You’ll notice it comes in different sizes and shapes. I chose the longest ones possible for my dry-shelling beans and a shorter variety for my cukes. I suppose if you had additional materials on hand, they make work for this project too. Perhaps you could find some large, straight sticks from the woods?

(If you’re an online shopper, I found a number of different bamboo stakes for around $1 each on item when purchased in a multipack.)

Step #1: Gather your materials.

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Step #2: Arrange your bamboo in the ground in a triangle fashion. Make sure to consider the spacing your plants will need!

Step #3: Tie the bamboo stakes together at the top using your twine. Knot it, but don’t cut it.

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Step #4: working from the top, wind the twine around the stakes. This may be considered an optional step as many plants may be supported enough by climbing by just the bamboo, but this is the method that worked well for me last year, so I’ll be repeating it!

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Step #5: when ready, add the plants. As they grow, you may need to help “train” them to climb, by gently tucking in vines and tendrils onto the twine and/or stakes, like so:


That’s it! Here’s the trellis I assembled yesterday. I am planning on using this one for nasturtium.

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I so love working with these bamboo stakes in my garden because they are pretty and pretty cheap! Here are a couple additional ways you could use them…

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As a support for vining fruit. Four bamboo stakes (with yes, more twine), helped keep my raspberry vines from flopping over in the summer.

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As a pea trellis. I’m trying this configuration of bamboo stakes + netting to grow my peas this year.

The Trellises in Action

I thought I’d share some pictures of how I successfully used two of these bamboo trellises to grow my beans and cucumbers last year!

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Here’s an idea for you to maximize your space even more: plant a head of lettuce, some radishes or other “quick” crop in the middle of the tee-pee trellis. I knew I’d have enough time to grow this beautiful head of Romaine before my cucumbers got too big!

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My beans grew quite easily and quickly on this trellis! Notice I constructed this in my raised bed, which is less than 3 feet across. One could conceivably construct a trellis in a large pot or other container, too.

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By summer’s end, both trellises were completely filled in! Growing my plants up also meant more of the plant could get the sunlight and air circulation it needed. It also made harvesting a snap. Plus that, I think it just looks pretty and made my garden added interest.

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Here’s another view of my bean trellis. Once it had completely covered the trellis, I tried growing it out over the garden to my deck, but alas, it grew about two feet and then stopped. Not a bad thought though! I like experimenting out there for cheap entertainment!

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My garden at summer’s end, 2012. I tucked a couple chairs behind the bean trellis and herbs for a quiet sitting area. It created for a peaceful place to retreat with a book or cool drink and I’m looking to recreate that this summer! While gardens can be productive, functional places – adding something like a tee-pee trellis can make it beautiful, too.

What edibles have you grown vertically? Do you have other low-cost/no-cost methods for constructing trellises?