Using a trellis to support your cucumber plants, or other vining vegetables, is the best way to grow beautiful and tasty cucumbers. Many gardeners have learned the hard way (including me) that letting your cucumber vines just spread upon the ground is a good way to not have many cucumbers.
The plants are much more susceptible to diseases, such as powdery mildew, and can cause the fruit to rot on the bottom when they are allowed to spread on the ground. Not only does a trellis help prevent this, but it will also help you to save space in the garden. Growing your cucumbers vertically can save you several square feet of garden space, which you could use for growing other vegetables.
Here is a very simple and inexpensive trellis that you could build in just a couple hours.
First, let’s discuss the trellis in a little more detail. The trellis has an overall height of 8 feet and is 3 feet wide. 20 inches of the trellis will be buried in the ground, to give the erected trellis a height of 76 inches (or 6 foot – 4 inches). You can make your trellis as small or as big as you need to fit your specific requirements. With these dimensions, the trellis will be able to accommodate about four cucumber plants – two on each side.
Materials for The Cucumber Trellis:
- 4 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ boards
- 1 – box of broad head Phillips screws (75/box)
- 1 – 100 foot of plastic clothesline
- 24 – deck screws or nails
- Tape Measure
- Cordless Drill or Screwdriver with a Phillips head bit
- Circular Saw with a wood cutting blade
- Post hole digger or shovel
- 48″ or 24″ level
- A gardening friend to help you!
The 2″ x 4″ x 8′ lumber was left over from another project, so I didn’t have to purchase that. The box of screws and clothesline came up to be %12.31 at Lowe’s. The lumber will probably cost about %20 or so depending on where you live. I recommend using pressure treated lumber. Pressure treated lumber will last a long time out in the elements over using regular lumber, such as the 2 x 4’s used in home construction. Also, I wouldn’t use salt treated lumber; there is a difference. Salt treated lumber has a chance of leaching salts into your soil, and this could pose a potential problem for your vegetables. Make sure you choose a good material to construct your cucumber trellis.
Another idea could be to buy the 2″ x 4″ material in a longer length, say 12′, if you prefer. This will save some money because you will have to buy less pieces, or if you have some lumber laying around that is extra, use that. You don’t have to use 2″ x 4″; you can use 4″ x 4″ posts, or what ever materials you prefer. The overall cost of your trellis will be determined by the size of the trellis you are building and how you purchase the materials, but should not be no more than %30-%40 to complete the entire trellis.
That’s it! That is all you need to build a very effective trellis for your cucumbers or other vines. Now, let’s get to building our trellis.
Assembling The Cucumber Trellis
- First we need to build the frame of the trellis. The trellis frame in the picture was already assembled last year, so all I had to do was put the clothesline on; I’ll get to that part later. Basically, this is a box with two legs. Use one of the 2″ x 4″ boards and cut two pieces 33 inches long. Then cut four pieces 12 inches long – cut a 45 degree angle on each end of the 12 inch long pieces. This is best done with a miter saw. These will make the corner braces so the frame will be sturdy.
- After all your pieces are cut, screw or nail the pieces together like the picture above to assemble the frame. I prefer using screws because they seem to hold up better than nails, but if you have nails, that’s fine. Screw the 33-inch pieces to the 8-foot boards, then take the second 8-foot board and screw it to the opposite end of the 33-inch pieces. Place a corner brace in each corner and screw them into place. Congratulations, your trellis frame is complete.
- Measure down the 8 foot long sides, starting at the top of the frame, and put a mark every 6 inches. Screw one of the broad head screws into the board at each mark until you come to the bottom 33-inch board. Don’t tighten the screw all the way down, leave it sticking up about half an inch so the clothesline will fit under the head of the screw. Complete this on both sides.
- On the top and bottom (the 33-inch) pieces, put a mark every 4 inches, and put a broad head screw at each mark, just as you did for the sides of the frame. Remember, do not tighten screws all the way down; leave them sticking up about half an inch. Now you are ready to start stringing the clothesline.
When you have completed the frame, it should look something like the one above. Now you are ready to use the flat head screws to hold down the clothesline.
Stringing The Netting for The Cucumber Trellis
- It is easiest to begin running the clothesline horizontally on the frame. Tie a knot in the clothesline around the first screw on the bottom, it doesn’t matter which side you start with. Once you have tied a secure knot, use the cordless screwdriver and cinch the screw down. Just snug it, you don’t need to tighten it too much, the line could fray or break.
- Once you cinch the screw down, run the clothesline over to the screw on the opposite side, and then up to the next screw above that one on the same side. Run the clothesline over to the opposite side screw; you will start forming horizontal lines.
Keep repeating this process until you reach the very top of the frame. Cut the clothesline with scissors and tie it in a knot around the last screw. The trellis should now look like this:
- It is time now to start running the clothesline vertically. It is very important when running the vertical lines to loop the line around the horizontal line at each intersection. This will give the “netting” of the trellis extra strength.
- Start at the first screw on the top of the trellis (doesn’t matter which side you start) and tie a knot in the line, just as you did for the horizontal lines. Once the knot is tied, cinch down that screw to hold the line in place. Pull the line snug and loop the line around the first horizontal line. Continue running the vertical line and looping it around the horizontal line until you reach the bottom screw.
You are half-way there!
- Once you reach the bottom screw, pull the line snugly around the bottom of the screw, then around the bottom of the next screw over. Then repeat running the line for the second row just as you did the first.
- Continue running the vertical lines until you have reached the final screws on the opposite from where you started. The trellis will begin taking shape and should look something like this:
- The last steps to complete your new trellis once you are finished running the lines, are to go around to each screw and cinch them all down. Remember, not too tight! After all the screws are cinched, take the scissors and trim off any excess clothesline where the knots were tied. Congratulations, your trellis is now ready to erect in the garden.
Putting The Cucumber Trellis In Place
Pick the spot where you want to place your trellis, and dig two, 20-inch deep holes that are 36-inches apart. I prefer using post hole diggers, but a shovel will work as well.
Once you have the holes dug, set your trellis into the holes. The bottom horizontal board should be flush with the top of the ground. Begin pushing the soil back into the holes, and check it for plumb while doing so with a level. You can omit this step if you like, but it looks a little better if the trellis isn’t leaning. Getting it close to plumb by “eye-balling” can suffice.
After you have finished filling in the holes, take your foot and pack the soil down as best as you can. Make any adjustments to the trellis as you see fit. Now you are ready to plant your favorite cucumbers or beans! You can plant on both sides of the trellis.
There are many different ways to construct a trellis for your climbing vegetables. Lattice is a very good product to use as a trellis. I would suggest using wood lattice over using the PVC or plastic type. The plastic lattice will last longer and looks better, but the plastic type is also a little slicker, which can make it difficult for the vines to “grab” hold of and climb properly.
This is a very simple, inexpensive trellis that will keep your cucumbers growing and producing all season long. The trellis can also be used multiple times as it should last at least three to four seasons.
After planting your favorite cucumbers or beans, you can train them to grow up your new trellis. I hope you enjoy your new trellis… I know I do!