My husband is always finding rustic pieces of wood in various locations while hiking. This split-rail fence was one find while out in the woods of neighboring land. He asked permission of the land owner if he could salvage it for another use in hopes to one day use it for a gardening project; thus the idea was born for our new Grapevine Trellis.
The grape vines my husband planted last spring were getting long and starting to bear fruit. They were beginning to sprawl, and take up lawn space. The slugs and chipmunks had been snacking on the fruit so it was time to trellis the growing vines.
Step 1: Supplies Needed:
Salvaged split-rail fence (2 posts and 2 rails)
2 x Five Gallon buckets of 3/4" rock
Green plastic Garadenign Tape
Tree Planting Spade
Step 2: Location
1. Loosely assemble the fence on the ground. Postition the fence to determine the amount of space it will occupy.
2. Measure the distance between the posts, and mark the ground to indicate where to dig. Figure out how much of the post will be (planted) under ground, to determine hole depth.
Step 3: Digging
1. Cut and remove sod using a tree space. Create opening 4-times the diapeter of the fence post.
2. When the hole becomes too deep for the spade, switch to a post-hole digger. Dig down to desired depth, adding a couple of inches for a layer of drainage rock.
Step 4: Positioning the Posts
1. Place one post into the middle of the hole. Hold it in place while pouring rock into the hole; fill only half-way to the top.
2. Apply the level on two sides to check for straightness-adjust the post by hand as needed.
(Note: due to the rustic shape of the posts, it may be impossible to get them 100% verticle)
3. Apply the balance of the rock to fill the hole and tamp the stones tight to hold to post steady.
4. Repeat Step 3: Digging.
5. Place the second post into the middle of the hole. Hold it in place while pouring rock into the hole. Keep it loose; add just enough rock to keep the post from leaning.
Step 5: Attaching the Rails
1. Fit tthe rails by placing the rail ends into the post holes. Start with the bottom rail and then position the top rail.
(It helps to have a second person holding the 'loose' post during the fit-up process)
2. Reapply the level to posts, check for straightness. Adjust by hand as needed.
(Note: rails may sag or bow due to rustic nature of the wood)
3. Once rails are in place and posts are straight; add remaining rock to second hole while holding the post steady.
4. Firm the rocks around the posts by tamping with a 2x4 piece of lumber.
Step 6: Securing the Vines
1. Drape Grape Vines over the rails and posts; use green plastic garden tape to secure in place.
Step 7: Observations:
This process can be stressfull to the vine. Some leaves flip upside-down during the process of tying them to the fence rails. After a few days, the leafs one again oriented themselves toward the sun. When possible, tie the vine to the fence rails on a relatively cool or cloudy/rainy day. Avoid bright sunshine and hot temps, which could fry the leaves.