A trellis is a support over which vines and other plants can grow. They can provide us with food, beauty and shade. One of the cheapest, easiest, and most esthetically attractive ways to make a trellis is with iron rebar.

Forget straight lines for a moment and think outside the ubiquitous square box. Rebar is flexible and can easily be bent to make arches, tunnels, domes, and free-form curvy shapes. There is really only one step in making a rebar trellis; putting the rebar where you want it and tying it in place with wire. There are several design considerations however. This instructable will cover the simple "how-to" and the more complex "why" of design considerations.

A rebar trellis can also be converted into a cement structure by covering it with a mesh material and then plastering it with cement. My home was made using a trellis-like support for nylon fishnet and cement. A second-generation trellis now covers my home for shade. It could also be cemented someday, allowing for a third-generation trellis over that, and so on. The end result would evolve into something resembling a termite nest-like city, and create a radically different way of life for everybody involved.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Bolt cutters are the best tool for cutting rebar, but a hacksaw will work. Lineman pliers are my favorite pliers for cutting and twisting the tie wires that join the rods where they intersect.

I use mostly 1/4 inch rebar, but 3/8 inch rebar is also useful, especially at first to establish the major lines. Bending the rebar by hand is easy. Pliers are needed only for sharp bends. 1/16 inch galvanized iron tie wire is used for tying it all together.

When you tie the rebar together at the intersections, you have the option of either twisting the wires clockwise or counter-clockwise. One way is usually better than the other, depending on how the rods overlap each other. If the wire doesn't stay tight, the joint will be loose. The direction you turn is something you have to decide on each time you twist, and it is something I have a hard time explaining to people even in person. Good luck learning it on your own! Practice and keep thinking as you go.

One hint: pull as you twist. On the last twist, bend it all over if you can, to avoid snagging on the wire ends later.
Thank you for bringing back my hippy days memories !!!… ;))))))))
I like your idea. I want to build a weird little arbour with trellis for my balcony and I like the idea of rebar for it. Thank you Thinkenstein.
If it werent for you I would have never known hotdogs grew on trees. <br>In all seriousness though, that is an amazing house, and great ideas with the rebar trellis. I will be trying some of em.
Hi, why rebar and not prunings from e.g. willow. Those are free (some people would actually pay to get rid of them!) , eco-friendly all the way and give a nice "rustic" feel to any garden. Like the ideas though! Nice instructable
I like your idea.. Thanks for sharing..
Oooh, that would be pretty to have a city or even a town which is connected by trellis, or to have this as landscaping.
You can cement the trellis and turn it into the next generation of architecture, and build another trellis over that. Instead of a city of boxes, it would be more like a termite nest -- a lot more interesting visually.
They're beautiful !
I like this. now i just need to find the tropical sunshine.
Yes, the cement structures might work anywhere, but the vines are probably better adapted to the tropics. Oh well. If life gives you snow, make snow cones.
I don't know where you live but your home is EXTREME!! Having a living sun shade is fantastic but doesn't it trap moisture?
Backwoods Puerto Rico. No, I wouldn't say that it traps moisture. The vines are elevated off the house, so there is ventilation. It does stay cooler. If cooler air holds less moisture than warm air, it seems like the air should be drier. Then again, the sun doesn't dry off the ground as much. Whatever the case, it is a lot more comfortable. I used the fan much less last summer, too, so it helps cut back on energy consumption.
Cool project. I would add a step on how to best bend the rebar, though.
Most of the time rebar is easy to bend by hand. Full length pieces are 20 ft. long. You only need pliers for sharp bends. It's kind of like weaving a basket. Usually It doesn't need a lot of strength.

About This Instructable


54 favorites


Bio: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home ... More »
More by Thinkenstein: Rubber Floor Mat Block Prints A Rubber Band and Stick Holding Trick Secretary Chair - drawing and table hack
Add instructable to: