Our Garden Arbors

Some projects are a snap. Collaboration dreams. The cattle panel arbor is probably not a big deal for most people.

More specifically / personally, this took us a few tries before we could say “Done”. But man was it worth it.

NOTE: This post deals with filled raised beds but offers two different installation approaches. Read on for our recommended materials.

Celebrating in our new double-wheelbarrow!

Why Cattle Panel for an Arbor?

  • Cattle panel fencing is relatively affordable and accessible; we got ours at a typical country / hardware store
  • All materials cost less than $100
  • It really is easy to do yourself — pliable, not too heavy — but it helps to get on the same page with your co-arborer before you start the project (i.e., inside or outside the beds? how tall of an arch?)
  • Galvanized steel will last (ideally) decades, and is non-toxic in garden soils with a neutral pH (which most soils need to arrive at, anyway, for growing a variety of produce and flowers)
  • The large grid makes for easy pickin’ when it comes to harvest time!

What We First Tried

  • U- or T-posts, at least 4′ tall*
  • Hammer for pounding stakes
  • Zip-ties to bind
  • 2 people to set the fencing in place — you can likely do this on your own, but pivoting this fencing is much easier with another person

What We Ended Up Using

  • 2 sheets of cattle panel, 4′ (feet) x 16′ because we wanted an 8′ tall arch
  • Cedar stakes
  • Large rubber mallet AND hammer for pounding stakes
  • Steel wire to bind
  • Shovel for trenching
  • 2 people to set and secure the fencing

*U-posts are lighter-weight, more bendable, and have smaller notches than T-posts. Plus, T-posts have white tops. Still trying to find out why…

First Try

5′ U-posts & zip-ties

  • We left the cattle panels in an arch-shape overnight, but I don’t think that’s necessary: this fencing is happy to bend
  • We tried this both inside and outside the garden beds; the former looked better but was weaker

This didn’t work for two reasons:

  1. We really do live on a Windy Corner — even when hammered into the beds, the fencing was too wobbly for future peas, nasturtiums, pole beans, cucumbers, maybe heirloom tomatoes…
  2. These U-posts were stamped per California’s Proposition 65 to warn risk of cancer & reproductive harm. I’m not in California, but I’m still human and appreciate the heads-up when it comes to our upcoming vegetables. I’ll continue researching the exact toxic chemical(s); since this combo wasn’t very secure anyway, we decided to ditch the posts and reuse them for another endeavor

Second Try

4′ cedar stakes & steel wire

This worked so well for us!

  1. Wiggling the panel into 2.5 feet of soil wasn’t fast, but I didn’t mind digging a trench since it meant ditching the U-posts for the non-toxic, more attractive cedar stakes we already had…this was the 1 person phase
  2. We were able to keep the fencing inside the beds, which allows for more airflow, light, and easy climbing for the wee veg
  3. Steel wire turned our cattle panels into arbors: it’s easy to tighten the stake with the fencing, tie-off, and trim

Get Planting! : )