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How to Frugally Build a Bamboo Garden Trellis

Bill is a writer with his own garden, and he has a wealth of useful tips about living simple.

This article will show you how to build your own bamboo trellis at virtually zero cost.

This article will show you how to build your own bamboo trellis at virtually zero cost.

My wife and I have an affinity for plants that spread. We love berry bushes. We love tomatoes. We love cucumbers and grapes and wisteria. Heck, if it has a vine we have a home for it. But as every gardener knows, at some point in time we have to gain control of our garden, or the darned plants will take over the entire property.

Last year, we planted gourds for the first time and oh my goodness . . . the little devils became what can only be described as an invasive species.

One thing I knew for certain is that we were not going to give up on our vines. So the only logical solution was to find a way to control them, and that is my introduction to the subject of bamboo trellises.

Bamboo Is Exceptionally Versatile

Bamboo is the ultimate in versatility as a building material. And unlike so many other materials you can buy at the gardening center, bamboo is renewable. It's also lightweight, flexible, and strong.

With proper care, bamboo can last 5 to 10 years and look great in just about any gardening scheme you have.

Oh yes, I love bamboo! And in this article, I'll show you how to use this wonderful plant to make your own trellis.

Bamboo is sturdy and reliable.

Bamboo is sturdy and reliable.

Create a Design That Works for You

When we are discussing trellises, one size does not fit all. That’s the problem with trellises that you buy at a store. They are all standard sizes, and most yards that I have seen need abnormal and not standard. So draw a design that works for you. Below, I will explain how to make a very simple tipi design, but you can literally make any size or shape trellis that you can imagine.

Take a look at your needs. Will your future vines be climbing vertically or horizontally? How much space do you need, and how many feet of trellis will you need? Draw a simple design with accurate measurements and then head outside and make your trellis.

Supplies Needed for a Bamboo Trellis

Chances are good that once you find some bamboo that you have everything you need already to make a great trellis. Here is what we use when we make our trellises:

  • Several canes of bamboo
  • Cord or twine for tying
  • Hand saw
  • Ruler or tape measure

Tip: Don’t buy anything! That is the first rule to follow if you want to be a frugal gardener. If you don’t have any twine, however, you can pick some up for about $2.50 for 100 feet, more than enough for these projects.

Please note that you do not need nails or screws. Bamboo does not handle nails well at all. We will simply be tying all pieces together. Easy peasy, my friends!

How to Make a Simple Tipi Trellis

This is the simplest trellis project that you can imagine, and it literally will take you a half hour max to complete it. Just follow these steps:

  1. Take three bamboo canes and cut to the same length. For ours, we use 6-foot lengths.
  2. Make notches about 1 inch from the end of each cane for the twine to fit into.
  3. Wrap twine around the end of the first cane.
  4. Put the second cane next to the first and wrap the same twine around the second, lashing it to the first.
  5. Put the third cane next to the first two and, again, lash them together.
  6. Tie off the loose end.
  7. Take the three canes and stand them vertically in your garden, and then spread the legs outward to form a tipi.
  8. Now take twine and wrap it around the tipi. Take the first strand and wrap it about one foot from the ground. The next strand will go 1 foot above that, and so on up to the top.
  9. Your trellis is completed.

This is a great design for tomatoes, beans, peas, and cucumbers. Once those vines grow to be 1 foot tall, they will grab hold of your twine and willingly do the rest of the work as they climb towards the sun.

A simple box design for smaller plants.

A simple box design for smaller plants.

Other Designs Work Well Too

The picture above shows a very simple box design that we use when the plant is young. We will be taking that down soon, since the berry bush is now in need of something bigger. But it's no problem, because we have a lot of bamboo to play with. The small one can obviously be used again, and you can bet we will do just that.

If you plant in rows, try a rectangle design that follows the rows. Cut your bamboo to 2-foot or 3-foot lengths for your vertical supports. Then tie long lengths of bamboo horizontally to those vertical supports.

The picture below shows another popular trellis design. I call it the “Fan,” and it is quite easy to make following these steps.

How to Make a Bamboo "Fan" Trellis

  1. Cut four or five bamboo canes to the same length, but at least 5 feet.
  2. On the end of all the canes, make grooves with a knife or saw so that your twine does not slip when you are tying it.
  3. Bring all the ends together and interlace the twine to tie them all.
  4. Now fan out the tops so they, in fact, resemble a fan.
  5. Tie cross supports horizontally every foot or so.
  6. You're done!
Here's a look at a simple "fan" design.

Here's a look at a simple "fan" design.

Where to Find Bamboo

Of course, you can go to a nursery or big box store like Home Depot and buy some bamboo. But for any frugal gardener, that is akin to buying a pre-built planter . . . it just isn’t done.

We were recently out running errands when we came across a homeowner who was giving bamboo away. We loaded up our car with over 50 bamboo poles, all at least 6 feet in length, and they were all free.

Walk around your neighborhood and chances are good that you have a neighbor with bamboo in their yard. Ask them if you can have some the next time they prune. Or ask for some cuttings and grow your own supply of bamboo poles. Bamboo grows like a weed—a 20-foot vertical weed—and it will grow that much during one summer from a small cutting.

The Battle Shall Be Won

The vines have fired the opening volley, but they will not win this war. I have a lot of bamboo and an equal amount of patience. Victory shall be mine!

Go get yourselves some bamboo and have fun. One of the things I like most about it is its versatility. If you can imagine it, then you can make it with bamboo.

If you are frugal, then give bamboo a try. If you are into the reusing of resources, then give bamboo a try. If you are into self-sufficiency and the natural look, then you really do owe it to yourselves to give it a try. Why pay exorbitant prices for store products when nature has provided for you for free?

Now strap on your helmet, grab your saw, and get out there and teach those vines who is boss!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Bill Holland

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 17, 2015:

Besarien, nothing to feel silly about. Happens all the time to me, driving by, I see something, and it looks so obvious....but most good ideas are fairly obvious and maybe too simple for us to think of. :) Thank you for stopping by.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 17, 2015:

Thank you Cynthia! Believe it or not, I received my first power tool for Christmas last year. You might say I'm a bit old-fashioned. :)

Besarien from South Florida on May 17, 2015:

We have a neighbor three houses down overrun with bamboo. She is a very nice lady too who lets us harvest it for free, I have done a number of craft projects with it and decorations for a backyard luau a couple of years ago but have never thought to use it to prop up my tomatoes. I feel so silly now! Thanks for showing me the way of the frugal gardener, Billy!

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on May 17, 2015:

Thankyou Bill for this clearly written and inspiring article. I like to think of myself as frugal and using bamboo to build trellises also appeals to my creative urge at this time of year without off-putting anxiety around power tools, fussy plañning calculations, and unfamiliar materials. Love it! Sharing widely. -Cynthia

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2014:

Deb, that's the beauty of it...you never run out of it! A constant supply at your disposal.

Thanks as always, Deb!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 15, 2014:

Bamboo is great! Flooring and cutting boards are manufactured from it, as it is a hardwood. It grows in no time at all, so it is very effective in being green, which it is, anyway.(grin)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 05, 2014:

Do that, Dianna! Bamboo is so versatile and easy to use.

Dianna Mendez on May 04, 2014:

We have plenty of bamboo available here but no space for a garden. I am filing this away for when we do have that plot of land to grow our own food. Some day!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 23, 2014:

Hello, Maria! So nice to hear from you. You should have no problem finding bamboo where you live. Best wishes my friend.

Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord on April 23, 2014:

This article is definitely a great help, Billy. Thanks for opening my eyes to the wonderful bamboos around me. Wow! I am going after them.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 23, 2014:

Good luck with it, Glimmer. If I can build one then anyone can, and I mean that honestly. :) Thanks as always for being here.

Claudia Mitchell on April 23, 2014:

Love this one Bill! From the top photo it looks like your garden is getting bigger. I'm going to try out the fan trellis since I need something for my clematis plant. Shared around!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 22, 2014:

Thanks Theresa! I think you will be pleased with the results.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on April 22, 2014:

Great hub and great suggestions. I need to try this with my tomatoes this year. I used some metal cages last year but they didn't work very well. :(

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2014:

You are very welcome, Chitrangada, and thank you for the kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2014:

Fantastic, Flourish, and I think bamboo looks much better than those metal supports you get at the store. Good luck if you try this and thank you.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 18, 2014:

Besides being every writer's guide and tutor, this hub displays another great talent of yours and a good tutorial for everyone.

Thanks for sharing this creative hub with instructions!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 17, 2014:

You're inspiring me with ideas for bamboo supports for tomatoes and string beans.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

It really is, Suzanne. I am the Master of Cheap. LOL Thank you!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on April 17, 2014:

Wow! This looks like a great way to get a cheap trellis for the garden. Voted up and useful!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

Thank you Monis! It's always nice to see you here.

Agaltom on April 17, 2014:

What a great tutorial, and a perfect timing. Passing it on my father in law :-)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

I love it, Sha! We have our own little Craigslist here. LOL

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

Eddy, you are very welcome. You know how much I appreciate you, right? Well, I do.

love from Olympia

billy

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

dis-cover, thank you for stopping by even though it does not apply to you. I appreciate it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2014:

Rajan, you are very welcome my friend. Thank you for taking the time to visit.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 17, 2014:

Your bamboo trellises are quite attractive, Bill. I didn't know that bamboo grows in Washington. It certainly grows in my yard! I'm forever digging up bamboo that wants to grow next to my house or around the a/c unit. It has a mind of it's own if you don't keep it in check.

For any of your readers who live in Central Florida, I have access to tons of bamboo. Look me up if you want some.

Eiddwen from Wales on April 17, 2014:

Another brilliant hub on frugal DIY ;a subject which I love and find so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing another great hub with us on here.

Take care billy my friend and enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Nikolic Predrag from Serbia, Belgrade on April 17, 2014:

Thank you Bill for the very helpful suggestions. Unfortunately, we do not have bamboo in Serbia, but I'm sure this article will be very helpful to the others, where bamboo is available. Voted up!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 16, 2014:

Bill, thanks for another useful tutorial and now I just need to look around for some bamboo that I can get for free.

Have a great day!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2014:

Thank you very much, DDE!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2014:

Very true, Nadine! It can take over a property. That's why I prefer to let someone else grow it and then give it to me. :) Thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2014:

Thanks for sharing, Eric! We don't have that much here but it isn't that hard to find, either. Have a great day, buddy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2014:

Fantastic, Alicia! Thanks so much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2014:

Well, Faith, thanks for thinking of me belatedly. :) I wish we had a ton of it here in our backyard. Oh well, the search continues.

Have a great day my friend and blessings to you always

bill

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 16, 2014:

Using bamboo is a great idea and I like your helpful suggestions in the garden.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on April 15, 2014:

Lovely post on your gardening adventures BIlly. We have used bamboo for many projects inside our home as well as outside, but growing it ourselves that can be invasive so we have been told, unless you have a big property.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 15, 2014:

I am sharing this with the aquaponics people I am working with. It fits right in with renewable organic notions. Bamboo is nearly a weed around here. They have to clear in the canyons for fire prevention. Maybe we "volunteer to help carry it away" ;-)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 15, 2014:

Using bamboo as you have done is a great idea, Bill. Thanks for the instructions. I will definitely be on the lookout for bamboo in my neighborhood!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 15, 2014:

How innovative, Bill! Oh, how I wished I had known you were going to be in need of bamboo. We had a ton growing in our backyard and it can be a bit invasive, but we had ours under control. Then we put up a fence and had to cut it all down. If I had known, I would have shipped it all to you : ) ... or used it as you have done so here.

Up and away

Really love this one,

Faith Reaper

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

There you go, Audrey! Great idea and established grape vines will work well. Good luck and thank you for visiting.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Bill, it is unbelievable the weather you have had. Good luck and I hope you can put that bamboo to work for you. Thank you and enjoy your week.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 15, 2014:

I love, love this idea! When I cut back my grape next winter, I think I will use the vines to build some trellises--

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 15, 2014:

Great idea Bill. I have some bamboo in the garage and will put it aside for the garden. We've had a few nice days lately but we are heading back to the 40's for tomorrow. May even get some wet snow tonight! Have a great week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Thank you Ruby. If bamboo grows in Washington then it has a good chance in Illinois.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Will, I think the old ideas were the simplest and always the best. Thanks for stopping by.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

MizB, I do believe bamboo wants full sun. We grow it here and we have a moderate climate, but I think it needs to be in the sun to thrive. Try replanting it....or just take a cutting or two because those roots on established plants can grow quite a ways.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Denise, I would be amazed if it doesn't. Bamboo is like a weed and it would be interesting to find out about ND. Good luck and thank for the visit.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 15, 2014:

I have one fan desigh bamboo that i've used for sometime, it is wonderful for climbing clematis. I didn't know we could grow bamboo, i thought it only grew in the tropics. I have so many plants and flowers in my yard, i doubt that i will plant anymore, unless of course i get the bug. Thank you for a very useful hub.....

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on April 15, 2014:

Great idea. My dad used to raise bamboo here in Phoenix, and we put it to good use.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 15, 2014:

Your trellises are so attractive, Bill, don’t you just love bamboo! I wish we had somewhere we live. Does bamboo take lots of sunshine? We have bamboo growing along the back fence of a piece of rental property, but it is spindly and doesn’t spread. Could it be too shady there? Would it help to bring some home and plant it in the sun? I would love to make some trellises similar to yours, and as you say, not pay for anything. Thanks for the designs. The video was interesting, too. Voted your great hub up++

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on April 15, 2014:

I have come to the conclusion that I want to do more with my yard and garden. This sounds like a great idea! Does bamboo grow in North Dakota?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Crafty, the more I read about cucumbers the more I learn that they do well climbing. We are going to try it this year and see what happens.

Thank you as always my friend.

CraftytotheCore on April 15, 2014:

This is awesome! My uncle had some large squash seeds from the Philippines which he needed to grow on a trellis such as this. I have heard that cucumbers like to grow up a trellis as well, but growing up I was taught to plant them on the ground.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Thanks Rebecca! This really is as easy as I have stated here. Hope you give it a try.

Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on April 15, 2014:

Another great hub. I would have never considered bamboo for a trellis. Shared.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Lizzy, I didn't know it was THAT strong. Wow! And you went to Hong Kong and didn't visit me??? What's up with that? LOL

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

That is exciting Jamie. I'm not sure how detailed my hub is. We just made it out of pallets and plywood. Nothing fancy but the chickens seem to like it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Wiccan, that's one way to keep visitors away...make the porch so dense they can't pass through it. LOL Just a thought.

Liz Davis from Hudson, FL on April 15, 2014:

Great idea, Billy! Bamboo is sustainable and strong--you don't have to worry about waste and it holds up well in the garden. When I visited Hong Kong years ago, I saw they used bamboo for scaffolding. Pretty cool!

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on April 15, 2014:

This is awesome. Thank you again for some great instruction! Bill we are building our chicken coop this weekend and I need to find you hub on how to build one for some instruction. I am excited to get started! Jamie

Mackenzie Sage Wright on April 15, 2014:

This is great. Bamboo is so plentiful here, too, in the subtropics. I know people who cut their bamboo a couple times a year and are always giving it away. People should try freecycle, you never know. I love gardening-- wish I had the land, but I do make the most of my big screen porch (it's like a jungle of container herbs and veggies out there).

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Marlene, it is sooooo easy! Give it a try my frugal friend, and as always, thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

SpaceShanty, I am jealous....have fun with them and thanks for stopping by.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on April 15, 2014:

"Don't buy anything!" Those are words we speak around my household on a regular basis. I like this project.

SpaceShanty from United Kingdom on April 15, 2014:

I have a load of Bamboo canes I was planning on using like this which I had forgotten about until I saw this, thanks!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

My pleasure, one2get2no...I appreciate you stopping by.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Mari, I have seen them, but it takes a heck of a lot of bamboo to do it. :) Thanks for the visit my wild and crazy friend.

Philip Cooper from Olney on April 15, 2014:

Very informative hub Billy...voted up.

dragonflycolor on April 15, 2014:

I would love to make an actual fence out of bamboo. That would be amazing in our neck of the woods. Thanks!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Carol, I have too many ideas for the time allowed...but maybe some day my friend. In the meantime...thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Thank you Daisy! I think you'll find it really is a very easy project.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Thank you Jackie! It really is this simple, and bamboo is everywhere if you are looking for it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

carljbehr, very cool! Thank you!

carol stanley from Arizona on April 15, 2014:

You never fail to amaze me with your ingenuity. Finding free bamboo..and creating...Along with your writing talents... Is there a book in your past or future about frugality living well...

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on April 15, 2014:

Bill,

Thanks for publishing this very helpful article. I have two rose bushes which are growing so much I was planning to purchase some stakes for them. They're close enough to each other, a fan trellis will work beautifully.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 15, 2014:

Bamboo! You are so full of great ideas! I will sure look into this for it could mean so many more planting places. Will be saving this hub, thanks so much!

Carla J Swick from NW PA on April 15, 2014:

Cool!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Mary, you always make me smile, and that is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you dear friend and Happy Spring!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2014:

Thank you Janine. Tell your dad I said hi and have a great Tuesday.

Mary Craig from New York on April 15, 2014:

Amazing! One suggestion better than the next. Bamboo is a very invasive plant so you probably can find someone willing to give it away and then make those lovely garden additions. If you keep this up Bill you're going to wind up with your own TV show "The Frugal Gardener"!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on April 15, 2014:

My dad works at Lowes and you know I am showing him this article for his spring garden now. Awesome Bill and thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Tuesday now!