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.
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…
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:
- 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…
- 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
4′ cedar stakes & steel wire
This worked so well for us!
- 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
- We were able to keep the fencing inside the beds, which allows for more airflow, light, and easy climbing for the wee veg
- Steel wire turned our cattle panels into arbors: it’s easy to tighten the stake with the fencing, tie-off, and trim