Frugal Gardening: How to Construct a Tee-Pee Trellis for about $5

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I recently launched a new spring series called Frugal Gardening. You can watch for new posts in this series each Monday and Friday and an update on my own garden each Tuesday. In case you missed them, you can go back and read previous posts and updates on my Frugal Gardening page.

Building a Tee-Pee Trellis: Step by Step

If you have limited growing space in your garden, consider what crops you can grow UP instead of OUT. Plants such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes and some flowers such as sweet peas and nasturtium can all climb if you let them! Last year was my first year dabbling in vertical gardening and this year I hope to conduct a couple additional experiments (posts to follow).

Today I’d like to share a simple, no-tool method for constructing a functional and attractive trellis. Even better, this quick project won’t set you back more than about $5!


What you’ll need:

  • 3 pieces of bamboo per trellis
  • Heavy-duty twine and scissors

Time involved: about 5-10 minutes per trellis

I found the bamboo at the Garden Center of my Fred Meyer store last year. It’s tucked outside WAY in the back, behind the planters and near the tomato cages. The awesome part? The bamboo starts at just a little more than $1 per stake making it perfect for the frugal gardener! You’ll notice it comes in different sizes and shapes. I chose the longest ones possible for my dry-shelling beans and a shorter variety for my cukes. I suppose if you had additional materials on hand, they make work for this project too. Perhaps you could find some large, straight sticks from the woods?

(If you’re an online shopper, I found a number of different bamboo stakes for around $1 each on item when purchased in a multipack.)

Step #1: Gather your materials.

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Step #2: Arrange your bamboo in the ground in a triangle fashion. Make sure to consider the spacing your plants will need!

Step #3: Tie the bamboo stakes together at the top using your twine. Knot it, but don’t cut it.

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Step #4: working from the top, wind the twine around the stakes. This may be considered an optional step as many plants may be supported enough by climbing by just the bamboo, but this is the method that worked well for me last year, so I’ll be repeating it!

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Step #5: when ready, add the plants. As they grow, you may need to help “train” them to climb, by gently tucking in vines and tendrils onto the twine and/or stakes, like so:


That’s it! Here’s the trellis I assembled yesterday. I am planning on using this one for nasturtium.

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I so love working with these bamboo stakes in my garden because they are pretty and pretty cheap! Here are a couple additional ways you could use them…

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As a support for vining fruit. Four bamboo stakes (with yes, more twine), helped keep my raspberry vines from flopping over in the summer.

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As a pea trellis. I’m trying this configuration of bamboo stakes + netting to grow my peas this year.

The Trellises in Action

I thought I’d share some pictures of how I successfully used two of these bamboo trellises to grow my beans and cucumbers last year!

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Here’s an idea for you to maximize your space even more: plant a head of lettuce, some radishes or other “quick” crop in the middle of the tee-pee trellis. I knew I’d have enough time to grow this beautiful head of Romaine before my cucumbers got too big!

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My beans grew quite easily and quickly on this trellis! Notice I constructed this in my raised bed, which is less than 3 feet across. One could conceivably construct a trellis in a large pot or other container, too.

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By summer’s end, both trellises were completely filled in! Growing my plants up also meant more of the plant could get the sunlight and air circulation it needed. It also made harvesting a snap. Plus that, I think it just looks pretty and made my garden added interest.

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Here’s another view of my bean trellis. Once it had completely covered the trellis, I tried growing it out over the garden to my deck, but alas, it grew about two feet and then stopped. Not a bad thought though! I like experimenting out there for cheap entertainment!

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My garden at summer’s end, 2012. I tucked a couple chairs behind the bean trellis and herbs for a quiet sitting area. It created for a peaceful place to retreat with a book or cool drink and I’m looking to recreate that this summer! While gardens can be productive, functional places – adding something like a tee-pee trellis can make it beautiful, too.

What edibles have you grown vertically? Do you have other low-cost/no-cost methods for constructing trellises?

13 thoughts on “Frugal Gardening: How to Construct a Tee-Pee Trellis for about $5”

  1. I really appreciate this series on frugal gardening. Your blog makes it possible for people to get an idea of what they can actually try based on the investment they’re willing to make. It is a nice voice of sanity in a bloggy world where people talk about saving lots of money by growing their own food, without being clear about the inevitable cost of gardening on any scale. Common sense gardening to go with common sense couponing!

    • Thank you!! I have been VERY careful to not just say, “grow your own to save money,” because the truth is, gardening is NOT always cheaper than buying your own. Yes, I spent $30 on seeds this year, but consider I easily spent several hundred in years 1 and 2 setting it up. There are definitely ways to garden for less, which is exactly what I’m trying to highlight here – but I too get frustrated when I hear someone say “gardening saves money!” and then shows $200 grow lights in their blog post, etc.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • I am right there with you about getting frustrated when people say “gardening saves money”. Getting set up properly and maintaining a healthy garden really isn’t cheap. However, with posts like your Frugal Gardening you can at least save here and there. I personally love to repurpose where I can (safely) by getting creative. Besides, I think projects like the bamboo tee-pee trellis are fun!!

        • Yeah, I feel proper disclosure is always important! I just spent $140 over the weekend on vegan, organic soil amendments (to increase microbes, and beneficial fungi, etc) and a hose filter. I do hope to purchase some grow lights and make additional planters in the yard over the next 5-10 years. I feel like knowing how to garden is such a great, basic skill to have and there are definitely ways of doing things for less, but I do feel it’s worth to spend a little here & there as I’m able to continue to transform the garden from “hobby” to a way of life.

  2. These look great. Something I’ve read about using string to support vines too is that at the end of the season, you can just cut the string and down come the vines. If you have a more permanent structure, you have to go pick the vines off bit by bit.

    I’m not positive they’re still there but I’d be willing to be they are – Big Lots had bundles of bamboo for a good price (compared to Home Depot which wasn’t bad but BL was better). I’m sorry I can’t remember exactly how much but for someone who wants to give these a try, it might be worth a look.

    • That’s a neat idea! Since these are really simple structures and since I like to rotate what I plant and where each year, I had no problem taking them down and then adding them in again this year.

      I’m sure you could find those bamboo stakes elsewhere too. Thanks for the suggestions – particularly for folks that might not have a Fred Meyer nearby!

  3. I have bamboo growing in my backyard that has gone crazy!! So this year I decided to thin it out a bit and used the bamboo to make tomato cages, extra large trellis’ for larger flowering vines, and of course tee-pees for the peas and beans. I’m also going to construct different shapes for my vertical growing. Not sure what will work since this is my first time doing it, but you won’t learn unless you try!!

    Love the series!!

    • Now THAT is smart and resourceful. Love, love, love.

      I say – don’t be afraid to experiment like this, particularly when there is no cost involved! 🙂

  4. So awesome, Angela!

    I know some clever gardeners who have made the pea trellis wide enough at the base that kids can go inside it and sit and read, or whatever!

    We just have two raised beds going now, but our starts look good so far!

    • I have seen that idea and LOVE it. I just sadly don’t have a good place to do that in my yard or garden (at least so far as I can estimate). I’ve seen folks do that with beans and also sunflowers, which I think is lovely!!!

  5. This is a great idea, thanks for sharing it. I made the mistake one year of planting cucumbers and not realizing that they were climbers. And so I didn’t have anything for them to climb on. They wrapped themselves around everything I’d planted that year. LOL. I haven’t planted anything the last couple of years since we moved and we’ve been settling. but this year I’m planning on doing a few things. Tomatoes, peppers, and now cukes and green beans. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  7. So helpful! I’ve recently figured out I have kiwi’s growing in my garden (weird for Canada) and want to rig something up that doesn’t break the bank. Great idea!

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