Fact 1: I want an arbor.
Fact 2: I do not have the space or money for an arbor.
Fact 3: I do not care. I want an arbor.
Here’s what I want:
Here’s what I have:
I’m not sure if pig-headed determination is a good thing or not, but I have it by the truckload. I’ve wanted to add an arbor to the garden for years but could never figure out how to install one that would fit into the tight space around my fence gates.
Problem 1: The arbor would butt-up against my neighbor’s property and potentially cause problems.
Problem 2: It needed to be tall enough that we could walk underneath without smacking our head.
Problem 3: It needed to be super cheap.
I had almost resigned myself to the reality that an arbor just wasn’t a possibility but couldn’t keep myself from brainstorming ways to make it happen.
Brainstorm 1: I just need a tall structure that I can squeeze up against my fence.
Brainstorm 2: It can be unconventional since once it’s covered in vines no one will know what it looks like.
Brainstorm 3: I need a way to connect the pieces together.
My first thought was to use rebar since I had seen several articles describing how easy it is to construct rebar arbors. But the more I researched this, the more problematic it became.
Problem 1: Rebar rusts in about a nanosecond and I find tetanus inconvenient.
Problem 2: It comes in 20 ft long rigid poles that I can’t transport home in my medium sized car without causing several traffic accidents. Accidents are bad. Avoiding them is good.
Problem 3: I don’t like rebar.
In search of a solution, I headed to our local Lowe’s and started asking questions. The wonderful thing about having almost no product knowledge of how to use 99% of what they sell means that it was easy to envision everything they sell being used creatively. I found long, semi-rigid threaded poles in the electrical section and a smart salesman to help me. When I left I had four 20 ft long, slightly bendy poles, couplers, and some kind of V shaped joint to help hold everything together. I was happier than a kid with a cupcake.
Here’s how I put it all together.
I bought these. You need two of the V shaped things (inside corner pull elbow) and four couplers.
Buy four long threaded rods.
They are slightly bendy allowing you to stuff them into your car without killing people. Screw the couplers onto one end. Leave the other end bare.
Stick the elbow piece onto the coupler and screw it tight.
Insert the other rod/coupler combo into the other side of the elbow joint.
Pound a hole in the ground with a metal stake or anything long and pointy. Take the stake out and stick in the threaded rods. Repeat with the other rods and you’re almost done.
I used heavy gauge wire and wire snips I bought at the craft store to lash the pieces together.
Look at that amazing knot! Woo-hoo! Navvies across the globe are jealous of my mad knot making skills! I lashed the two rods together to keep them from wobbling.
I also lashed them to the wire fence for greater stability.
Pathetic but effective
Suburban Gothic: the newest trend
The skinny threaded rods work great at making sure I keep the arbor on my property.
My new $25 arbor!
I’m going to cover my arbor with cypress vine and purple pole beans this summer. The threaded rods give the vines a textured surface to grab onto to, making it easier for them to cover the structure. Because these are annuals, I can just take them down in the fall and troubleshoot the arbor, if needed.