A Copper Trellis Project

How About A Copper Trellis For Your Garden?

Need a nifty idea on how to make an attractive looking trellis for your tomato or viney-type plants? Use copper tubing that you can find at any “big box” store or plumbing supply store.

The neat thing about copper is that if you don’t coat it with a clear sealant, it’ll get a wonderful greenish patina over time. It’ll blend in beautifully with your garden, whether you have a traditional type or contemporary type of setting.

Copper Trellis project from Reader’s Digest There are many different configurations that are possible for a trellis – you just need to familiarize yourself with what parts are available, such as the different angles, elbows or T-joints that will allow you join the tubing together. Then you can get down to designing your own configuration, if you don’t want to follow the trellis design I’m showing you here.

**Please note: the trellis project pictured on the right does NOT require fittings to hold it all together. You flatten the tubing in various places (where you’d normally use a connector) so that you can solder “flat-to-flat” pipe together. This may be due in part to the fact a 4-way or “cross” adapter might be hard to find if you don’t have a specialty plumbing supply place near you.

The fact that you can buy curved and angled pipe fittings opens up all sorts of options for your trellis design. It doesn’t have to be totally square or rectangular in shape. You’ll have to sit down with pencil and paper and sketch it out, and of course drawing in the exact angle of whatever pieces you’ll be using to make sure your “on paper” trellis will go together properly.

Copper pipe fittings

After you’ve finalized your design and cut the pipes into the lengths you’ll need, I HIGHLY suggest to first do a dry run – lay out all the pieces and fittings as per your sketch. Make sure everything will fit together correctly before you begin to solder or glue!

Now, typically copper tubing needs to be soldered so that everything stays attached together, so this project isn’t one that most all of us could tackle. I sure don’t have a butane torch in my tool kit! But perhaps you have a “handy” spouse or helpful neighbor who’ll solder everything together for you. Lucky for you if you do. BUT … BUT!! …

Don’t Have A Torch Or Know How To Solder The Pieces Together? No Problem – I Found A Glue For Copper!

There’s an easy alternative for us torch-less folks! 😀   The alternative is an epoxy glue that is specially formulated for copper and it’s made by the Super Glue people. Here’s a link to their website so you can read about it and so you’ll know what to ask for when you go to the store: Copper-Bond® (Yes I’ve been doing research for you garden art enthusiasts – I’m always interested in learning how we can do our projects as easily, but also as successfully, as possible!!)

There probably are a few other glue products that will also work on metal-to-metal appllications. So if you can’t find Copper-Bond® perhaps asking the sales associates in the paint department (where you will find most all the adhesives and glues at the big-box stores), or maybe the people in the plumbing dept. for glue alternatives they’ll point you to other products.

This project in it’s entirety is sitting on the Reader’s Digest website (links provided below). Since this trellis project really does a good job taking you through all the steps, I feel confident it will do a great job of getting you familiar with just how a project like this needs to be done – from strat to finish.

I’ve put a little of the project overview and the photo of what the project will end up looking like here on my blog. I’ve also included the link for all the assembly steps at the end of this article (in case you are curious and want to skip right to those).

OK, let’s get down to it.

How To Build a Copper Trellis for Your Garden
By: Jeff Gorton – Reader’s Digest

[Note – April 2011: It was recently brought to my attention that Reader’s Digest has removed this project from their website and I had to remove the direct links in this article that referred my readers to the original article since those links don’t work anymore. I also haven’t found the article placed elsewhere on the RD site. So … I’m glad I have it here and safely archived for you all to learn from and enjoy. Claudia]

Copper is an ideal outdoor material for garden structures. It has a warm, natural look, whether shiny or tarnished. It lasts for years without upkeep. And it’s easy to work with and relatively inexpensive.

We built this copper garden trellis [as per photo shown above] from standard 1/2-in. and 3/4-in. “type M” copper plumbing tubes. We’ll show you a unique joining method that allows you to solder the tubing together without fittings. To simplify the process, we’ll show you how to assemble a simple 2×4 jig to keep the tubes aligned while you solder them. Don’t worry if you’ve never soldered copper. This project is a great place to learn, since you don’t have to be concerned about critical plumbing joints leaking. If you goof up and one of the joints lets loose, just resolder it.

Even working at a casual pace, you’ll be able to complete this project in a weekend. You can pick up all the materials and tools at a home center. You’ll need a tubing cutter ($12 to $23), propane torch ($10 to $30), propane canister ($3), emery cloth, roll of solder, flux and flux brush for the soldering work, and a hammer and saw to build the jig. If you want to anchor the trellis in the ground, buy a 10-ft. length of 1/2-in. electrical conduit (EMT). You’ll find it in the electrical department. Including the jig and EMT, the materials will cost about $50.

Parts List For Pictured Trellis

Copper Trellis Project -Copyright © 2009, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I liked your blog on the copper trellis but was surprised that you didn’t have more information about making twig trellises (trellisi?).

    It is fun and easy to make a decorative trellis with material removed from the bushes, trees and roses on your property. Any long bendable woody plant stem can be used to do this it is fun cheap and makes a beautiful backdrop for many plants or just as a decoration.

    If you are interested I will snap some pictures of my next one that I build and send them on to you with instructions.
    Tools needed:
    –Long bendable woody branches
    –Nails, wire, twist ties or zip ties to hold branches together
    –Wire cutters
    –Garden shears or pruners to cut branches
    –Pocket knife
    –Shellac or paint if you wish to coat the project
    –Some time in the yard to build the trellis

  2. Claudia says:

    Hi Robert:
    Sure – please send along some photos & instructions to me as I am sure there are lots of folks who’d love to learn about this project.

    Thanks for the offer!

  3. Gabi Iancsik says:

    A very interesting blog. I like very much the idea and design of copper trellis. Congratulation!
    Sorry, if i made some mistakes. My english is not very good.

  4. FloraGeorge says:

    Copper is used in different machinery products. It is the key component for Casting industry. Congratulations for your wonderful blog.

    Castings China

  5. Copper fittings says:

    Good day!
    Pipes are not only for water installation but also to other things. Like in this article, this is a great article. Hope to see more article from you. Thank you!

  6. copper fittings says:

    Copper piping is supplied in a few different varieties flexible type lines, and even hard, sketched material pipes. Copper piping at the same time is supplied in several sizes for the purpose of air-conditioning, refrigeration, not to mention plumbing.

  7. I love the idea of a trestles of copper tubing. I have been a professional landscaping and fencing professional in Southern New Hampshire for 25 years and I have not seen anything in landscaping like the trellis that you put together. It looks beautiful. My only concern is the price of copper will make your trellis get up and walk away

  8. I would really like to get your twig trellis information. I life next to a small forested area and whatever I can’t get from my property I can probably get from there. Thanks

  9. Wouldn’t the metal get too hot and burn or damage your plants? I’d never use metal

  10. Claudia says:

    Hi June:
    Well, yes metal can get hot. But if that was the case as far as using metal for plant structures is concerned, then why are there so many varieties and styles of metal plant supports, trellises, etc.? Just look at all the support options available at any gardening center – many of them are metal! But of course it’s your choice, but I’ve never ever had plants get burned because I was using a metal support structure. Plus, once your plants have covered most of it, the metal isn’t exposed. Usually the plants have done a pretty good job of growing around and over it by early summer, then the sun does tend of have hotter rays.

  11. This project was featured in Handyman Magazine also.
    We love it!

  12. Allen Windsor says:

    I have looked all over the internet for a supplier of the 4 way cross fitting. Could you give me the name of your source?

  13. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Allen: Yes, the 4-way fitting does seem to be impossible to find nowadays. As I have suggested to others – you may have to resort to using PVC parts and pipes to do this project, as 4-way PVC fittings are readily available. Plus the cost of all PVC parts is much less than copper. And then you can paint the PVC in a faux finish to look like copper. Perhaps you can come up with a work-around solution to take the place of a copper 4-way fitting. I’m not sure if a PVC 4-way “might” work with joining copper pipes. Again – some creativity in doing so will likely have to come into play.

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