Built my first cattle panel arch trellis today!

June 11, 2007

All for less than $30 in supplies!

It took over 4 hours to dig the holes for the T-posts. One post especially was very very difficult to dig because a rock the size of those boogie boards at the beach ominously gave zero option for pole placement. I had to bust it up with a sledge hammer before I could dig. I also broke two shovels including one I bought at Lowes Sunday that touted 'Best shovel in the world'. Split it halfway down the spade! The girls behind the return counter busted out laughing, but refunded the money. I was more careful finishing the job. ;)


I planted cucumbers and snap peas this evening. I left a corner spot for potentially a melon of sorts. I could use the other side of the trellis, but am too worm out to do anything for tilling. I think a raised bed on that side would be considerably easier to create.. possibly all the way to the rear of my stockade fence. For now I may just put potted tomato plants there and train them up that side.

Please let me know what you all think.

Comments (98)

  • ibheri_gmail_com

    Where do we get those cattle panels? I want to buy a trelis for my vines and was looking around.

  • grow-anything

    I got these at Tractor Supply and just put them up Saturday.

  • catherinet

    Looks good grow-anything!
    What all are you going to grow up them?
    I made my son a fort out of 2 of these arched together, end to end, then covered it with a tarp! Worked great!

  • grow-anything

    Here is a photo from yesterday. I have pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and some squash on them right now.

  • alisande

    I think this thread is going to go on forever.

    I was mesmerized by all the beautiful arches, and as of this afternoon I have my very own cattle panel, bent in half with the edges temporarily tied at the bottom, plus four "U-posts," which is what the store recommended I use to anchor my arch.

    I'm probably about to validate dumb-blonde jokes, but what do I do now? How does one go about setting it up? Does a post go in the ground first, and then a corner of the arch attached to it? And when we cut the ties at the bottom, will the panel stay more or less bent? (I leaned on it, so the bend is pretty distinct.) I'm surprised at how heavy the panel is. I'm thinking maybe this is a two-person job.

    I can hear the jokes now......How many blondes does it take to set up a cattle panel? LOL

    Your help is appreciated Âthanks!!

  • grow-anything

    As you can see in my photo above, I bent mine into an inverted "u" and placed it about where I wanted it. I then put two corner post in place and used zip-ties to anchor it. Then measured a square and drove up the other two post. Zip-tied it and did it three more times to make four arches.

  • gwanatu

    I've got my own thread that I made, but since this seems to be the go-to thread I'll post a few pictures of my nearly 1 month old setup here:

    To the left are Jack-O-Lanterns, and to the right are Casper pumpkins. Other things we have on these cattle panels are cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, acorn squash, butternut squash, yellow crook-neck squash and zucchini.

  • bencjedi

    I'm back and on year 4 of my cattle panel arch trellis, so time to start posting pics! The location has changed since the last couple years, but I got a jump on the plantings, so I think I'm the furthest along with pole beans and cucumbers for this time of year. The cattle panel was the best thing for $30. It is as strong and sturdy as the day I bought it and assembled it in the back yard. Indestructible?

    One difference from last year.. the beans are on the opposite side as the year before (and vice versa for the cukes). I swapped their positions for crop rotation, but mostly because the beans shaded the cukes last year and the cukes didn't grow as well as I would have liked. I flipped them to see if it makes any difference this year. I also limited it this year to only one Sungold F1 cherry tomato plant in the back since this variety is so prolific that any more than one is really too much. If you need something to 'cap' an end, I recommend sticking a tomato plant at the end and putting some twine in zigzag along the back for the tomato branches to grow in for support.

    From 060410

  • kamine80

    Love this post!!

  • rozutah

    would Squash grow on these can anyone tell me and pumpkins and how about weeds are there less.

  • sparks5478

    Love this thread, especially seeing what everyone's done with their cattle panel. I was finally able to get some of my own, not an easy feat considering I'm nowhere near Tractor Supply. But when we drove our daughter to college in Ohio, I made my husband go many, many miles out of our way on the drive home so I could get some. To say the least, we attracted a good bit of attention driving through NYC with a bunch of panels tied to our roof.

    Anyway, I did something a little different than an arch with some of what I bought. I saw this trellis on DIY Network's Fresh From the Garden and downloaded the plans. Instead of string, I used the cattle panel instead. This pic is a couple of weeks old; my cukes and winter squash are now about 1/4 of the way up the trellis.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Cattle Panel Trellis

  • alisande

    That looks so nice, Sparks! Almost Asian, in a way.

    Here's my arch--definitely the most exciting thing in my garden this year. We set it up on a dirt terrace alongside the house because that area isn't on the wildlife's usual route (fingers crossed).

    When it was first erected, last month:


    More recently--but the terrace isn't quite as overgrown as it appears in this picture.

    And now my beans (Kentucky Wonder and Fortex) are climbing, and so are a couple of cucumbers.


    Thanks to Ben and others for the inspiration!

  • bencjedi

    I'm happy to see all the new cattle panel trellises! Great job everyone! Unfortunately cucumber beetles wiped out my cucumber plants, so I bought row cover and put new seeds down after cleaning up the vine mess from the beetles' diseased destroying handiwork. I think the cattle panel is going to work out real well and easy with the cover. I took two 5.5-6' long pieces of wood and stapled about 7' of row cover all along the edge on each piece. I put one inside the arch and the other outside. I then used clothes pins to completely seal off the 'cocoon'. So far I have not seen ANY bugs get inside, so we'll see how this works. The pole beans are growing GREAT still! The Sungold F1 tomato plant in the back is wirey, but growing every which way and producing tomatoes all the time. I found a prolific cherry tomato plant on one open side with some twine woven zig-zag in the back is a good way to utilize the support of the panel and give you more to grow in a tight space. If your panel is butted-up to something like a handrail (such as in my case) you may as well toss a cherry tomato plant there for some bonus fruit. :)

    From 070910
    From 071410

  • curt_grow

    Well I have no pictures, but I have a cattle panel trellis. Now everyone in town wants one. I do have one thing that is unique. Mine has a light inside the arch. A 13/60 w compact florescent bulb in a brooder fixture with ceramic socket. It looks like a lit up grotto at night. I also have a floor made of asphalt shingles and a work/plant shelf Oh I forgot the back wall is wire also ,but only 4 foot tall so it is like a green shed right now with only the north wall open. Boy do I love it. I am going to try to use it as a high tunnel this fall and winter. I will see how my plans turn out when fall comes. Sorry I do not have a camera I am looking for a used one that can take decent pictures. Thanks all for the inspiration and help.


  • bencjedi

    Curt, that sounds awesome! A Greenshed!

    I'm getting cukes forming under the row cover since the late June emergency planting. I guess I didn't need bees for pollination. The row cover probably flaps around enough to move the pollen around. It's really too bad that beetles easily destroyed the first plants, even with Sevin dust, but at least so far so good with the replacement plants and the row cover strategy.

    From 082010

  • alisande

    Had to post an update on my bean arch. Even if I weren't picking delicious beans every day, I'd still think it was pretty!


  • gwanatu

    sparks5478, I love your design! That looks so nice!

  • jolj

    I linked this thread up on the fruit form for some one who wanted to trellis raspberries.

  • rose0lavender

    Is there anything else I could use besides cattle panel? I haven't seen it in any of the stores around my area.

  • jolj

    Yes, clothe line, concrete wire,2X4 wire, 48" or 72" high.
    You can get the cattle panel at tractor supply.

  • bencjedi

    Another year by and this time I prepped the soil around my arch to grow sugar snap peas. I figure I'll still put down cucumbers and pole beans, but since that won't happen til May, I may as well see how the peas do first. They completely surround the trellis. Can't wait to see how they do and if my extra-use will pan-out.

  • bencjedi

    Wow, just realized it's almost been 5 years since I originally erected my cattle panel arch trellis and there's no sign of any aging. This thing seemingly will last forever!

  • sodbuster50

    Ben I have to say thanks for just sticking with the year after year updating. I just went on the computer to see how people use cattle panels for planting cucumbers and ran across this 5 year history of what you are doing and inspiring fellow gardners. Unlike you I have a big yard and my garden is probably 15' by 30'. I've always been raising cucumbers on the ground but every year it seems to get harder and harder to make room for them. I was going to just go out to a local farmer and get an old panel and set it up but this "hoop" style has me hooked. Question. since I will only be using the panel for cukes, have you found it better to go east and west or north and south with the hoop?

  • tey157

    Nice, I'm looking for ideals on how to build a trellis/ arbor.

  • growingfor7

    I am heading to Tractor Supply today to get 2 panels. My question is, how difficult is it to bend these to get them into my vehicle (mini van)? Is that possible or do I need to borrow a truck?

  • bencjedi

    @sodbuster50 - Thanks! I do look in this thread from time to time. I oriented mine so the opening is West-East (walk through it from West to East). I usually plant the pole beans on the north-facing panel and the cukes on the south-facing one. I also found putting bush beans in the inside area can be a smart use of that space since all beans and cukes are planted at the same time they all grow up simultaneously so the sun isn't shaded in the inside of the hoop right away. It's like stealing an extra crop of beans. I should have thought of that years ago. I accidentally put bush beans down instead of pole beans a year ago and that's when I realized "hey, this actually works". lol I quickly did plant the pole beans and left the bush beans. I just had to carefully step around them when I wanted to harvest anything. It wasn't a big deal.

  • christy2828

    This thread is tagged on Pinterest!! Great ideas, thanks :) Christy

  • jolj

    I really need to make wire cage for tomatoes & use cattle panels for other crops. Bamboo can be a hassle.{{gwi:270085}}

  • RunningGrammy

    Ben, I found your awesome arbor/trellis on Pinterst. Like so many others, I'm so grateful that you took the time to record and photograph the past five years of using it in your veggie garden. I recently bought something similar to it (though not nearly as wide) at a big-name gardening store. Even at 40% off, it was quite a splurge for me. I'm so glad I haven't had time to take a truck to the store to pick it up, because I want to get a refund and make a bigger, less expensive one like yours! Thanks again!

  • mrs_tlc

    Tom - In looking at the pictures you posted am I correct in seeing that you started the cattle panel higher off the ground with buckets centered beneath for vining plants?

  • mrs_tlc

    We just bought the panels the other day and noticed that there is a bit of rust at the joints on the panels. Should we coat the panels with something to prvent and further rusting?

  • little_minnie

    I wish that bamboo tomato cage pic was clearer. It is an interesting idea. Cheapest cages I think you can make. 4 bamboo poles and then just tie up supports as they go. I wonder how well it holds.

  • bencjedi

    Forgot to post a pic of its use in 2012. Here's last September. Still great for beans!

  • chorn89

    This an awesome idea for a veggie trellis. Going to Tractor Supply tomorrow to get my cattle panel. Thanks so much for the post :)

  • dddzstmpn

    For those who do not have Tractor Supply nearby (like me) I was able to buy this type of wire by the foot at Orchard Supply Hardware....I lucked out as it was one of the stores that was closing & I got it for 40% off. I got 16 ft. I got the T-Posts at Lowe's. Hope this helps someone.

  • barngem

    Just to let you all know. T-Posts are made to pound into the ground. You do not have to dig a hole to bury them. You can buy a tool to pound them in. Or if you can weld or know someone that can they can take a round steel pipe and weld a cap on one end. You slip it over the top of the post and raise and lower the pipe up and down on the top of the post this pushed it into the ground a little farther with each pull down motion. Just remember not to lift the pipe so high that it clears the top of the post on the upward thrust because it will come off and potentially hit you in the head.... depending on the height of the post. With a shorter post as shown here you are working over your post and can manage it much easier. But there is a tool to purchase and can be purchased at tractor supply when you get the posts. The tool is well worth the money if your doing any number of posts.

  • barngem

    This is such a great idea. I just set up new raised beds and
    will be taking advantage of this idea for my cucumbers and my tomatoes. I have been looking for a good idea that looked nice too. Thanks for posting

  • Danielle

    I enjoyed reading through this thread! Just wanted to post a couple of pics from my garden last year... the first year I used cattle panels, I LOVE them and am setting up another one today! =)

  • jolj

    In soft organic soil some of us just use a large hammer to put in T-poles.

    A lot of us have hammers on the farm/homestead, so no cost or fuss on special tools.

    But I may make one if the steel & time comes my way.

  • catherinet

    Danielle........very nice! I don't see any posts holding it. What do you use to keep it from popping out of the ground?

  • Danielle

    Thank you, Catherinet! Ours aren't in the ground at all, we just nailed them to the logs (with u-nails) that are our bed borders! I put another arch up the other day with just one panel and I just dug a small trench 4 feet long and 8-12 inches deep and shoved the end down into it and covered with dirt! We didn't have any extra posts laying around. =)

  • Lydia K (zone 6b)

    My husband and I built an arched trellis this spring. I wish it cost us $30, but it was more like $300 for five trellises. There were limited cattle panel choices at the nearby Tractor Supply store. I did get a quote from a handyman to rebuild the center bed into 4-7x4 raised beds and build four trellises. The quote came out to $900 for labor alone! So we decided to do it ourselves and I think it turned out pretty well. I'm so excited about the growth of the pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupes and pole beans. I'm managing some squash vine borers that will hopefully not take out my crops. I have 6 different varieties of pumpkins, a total of 22 plants. It would be great to see pumpkins hanging down the row. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • wsdai

    Hi, I am new in gardening. It is exciting to see all the trellis for vinery vegetables. I have a question: Can I use the metal fencing materials sold in Home Depot or Lowes to build the arc trellis? For example Thanks

  • catherinet

    We used that for the fencing around our garden. I always liked the 12 gauge more.....but couldn't find it anywhere. It will probably work with the stuff in the link you showed......but it's only 4' tall (right?), so you'll need to use tall metal stakes about every 4-6'. Also, I believe the opening are only something like 4"x2", so you can't really stick your hand through. If any fruits/veggies are growing half on each side of those openings, you'll need to pull them out before they grow into the wire. I don't know what to tell you about heavier might work. But lots of vining veggies like to grow tall, so yours will probably grow completely over it and down. But you could train the vines to grow more across the fencing. Good luck!

  • wsdai

    Thank you for your response. I really appreciate it. In my original thought in using the Home depot wire, it is 4' x 50'. I would cut the 50' to two 18' and one 14'. Then the 18' could make an arch of about 8'. Do you think that could work?

    The only things are that the gauge is slight lower (14 gauge instead of 12 gauge) and the small opening. What kind of opening is good for squash type? 4"x4", or 5" x 6"?

    Several questions if I may: Would Pumpkin be too heavy for hanging in the air? In the hot summer, the metal creates too much heat, would the metal scorch the plants? Also, some post says that the tractor supply store arches the panel, does the panel stay arched during transportation? I do not have a truck, only a minivan. I wonder if I can carry home? Tractor supply store is far from us. Any other store that carries the cattle panel?

    Sorry for many questions - I am new to gardening and not very handy. Thank you so much for your help!


  • jojogarden zone 9b

    I haven't put it up yet, but I bought (2) 10' x 6" masonry ladders from Home Depot ($2.37 each) to use for an arch of mandevilla vine in my front flower garden border. Different size, different intended use, but same concept - use metal panels for gardening instead of paying mucho bucks for pre-made "brand-name" products. Thanks to those of you who pioneered this concept and then took time to share your experience with the rest of us.


  • catherinet

    Good luck with your project JoJo! :)

  • Megan Staples

    this is great information! just bought a cattle panel from TSC

  • pkerella
    Just built my trellis today. Posting pictures thinking it may help some other gardeners.

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