This easy and cheap archway is perfect to add to any gate for the Holidays ! It's extremely sturdy and was able to handle squirrels running on the top and strong winds.
Step 1: Shopping List
For this archway you are going to need the following items :
2 x Pool Noodles (I'm using red ones bought at the dollar store)
2 x 3 ft. Green Colored Sturdy Stakes ( I'm using Vigoro brand ones from the Home Depot )
1 x 16 in of 1/2 PVC pipe schedule 40
1 x 25 ft ribbon of your choice ( I'm using a 2.5 in red and sparkle red that I bought at Michael's at 70% off )
1 x 50 ft Holiday Time Pine Garland ( I'm using a green garland from Walmart )
1 x Small Christmas wreath
miscellaneous : duct tape, cable ties
Step 2: Step 1 : Setting Up the Pool Noodles
It's now time for us to start assembling the pool noodles so we can see how much curvature our arch will need.
1 - Measure and cut the PVC pipe as followed :
1 x 4 in
2 x 6 in
2 - Mark the center of the 4 in pipe. This will help you make the middle part of the arch sturdier so you can hang a Christmas wreath on it
3 - Insert the 4 in pipe you previously cut inside one side of a pool noodle
4 - While pressing hard on the side of the pool noodle where you just inserted the PVC pipe, insert the other pool noodle on the PVC pipe.
5 - Use duct tape to attach both pool noodle together.
You should now be able to hold both end of your joined pool noodle and bend it to create a curve. Make sure the PVC pipe that you have inserted it still inside both noodle.
Step 3: Step 2 : Setting Up the Curvature
This first step is also the most important as it is going to define how your arch looks. It's also a step that is easier to do with 2 people if the space you are creating your arch for is large.
You will normally not need the entire length of the stake, but keep in mine that each of them will have to fit about 2 inches inside the PVC pipe we have setup between the noodles. I recommend having a few garden stake in spare in case you end up damaging one beyond use.
1 - While holding each side of the pool noodle against the two facing side of your gate where you walk in, choose a curvature that looks nice to you.
2 - Use a cable tie to secure temporally the noodle to your gate
3 - Using duct tape, attach together at the top, in the center and at the bottom the garden stake. I didn't do it on mine and trying to have both stake taking the same shape was a real nightmare. You do not need to wrap them together, you just need to make sure that you can bend them together.
4 - While using only the strength of your hands, carefully bend the stake to match the curvature that your pool noodle is taking. It's better if they are slightly less bent than needed. That will allow the arch to keep a sturdy shape when installed. This step must be done very carefully : the garden stake are extremely sturdy, they are made of a hollow metallic pipe however, applying to much force will result in the stake doing a pinch ( see picture ). If that happens to you, cut that part out and try again by slowly applying force to curve the stakes. You will not need the all size of the garden stake, but keep in mind that you will have to leave at least 5 to 6 inches stikking out on each side to secure the arch to your fence posts.
I was lucky enough to only trash one in the previous step.
5 - Separate the garden stakes and take each side in one hand. Make sure that they reassemble as close as possible as the pool noddle.
Step 4: Step 3 : Assembly
We are almost done with the most challenging part of this tutorial. We now need to combine the garden stakes and the pool noodles.
1 - Remove the pool noddles from your archway as we are going to need to separate them to insert the garden stakes
2 - Remove the duct tape from the pool noodles and separate them. Keep the PVC pipe inside one
3 - Carefully insert one of the garden stake inside one of the pool noodle. Do no hesitate to bend the pool noodle to insert the stake. If you pierce the noodle by accident, just pull it back and continue. Make sure that at least 5 to 6 inches of the garden stake is stiking out at the bottom, where we will use cable ties later on (to attach it to the fence post).
4 - Make sure that the garden stake you have inserted is also about 2 inches inside the PVC pipe that will be between the 2 noodles.
5 - Repeat step 3 and 4 with the other side.
6 - Once you are happy with the result, insert the 2 remaining pieces of PVC pipe inside each side of the pool noodles. This will allow the garden stake to not move at all after being installed on the fence post and gives a better grip for the cable ties.
7 - Attach the 2 pool noodles together like in the previous steps and use duct tape to secure the top part.
Now that we have completed the structure itself, all we have to do is to wrap our ribbon around the pool noodle.
1 - Tightly pass over the ribbon 3 times on the side that you have decided to start from.
2 - Wrap the noodle with the ribbon on an angle. Make sure it's thight and that you are always slightly overlapping edge of the ribbon.
3 - Once arrived at the end, once again, pass over 3 times and make sure it's thight.
4 - Secure ribbon with a cable tie on each end. You can also insert a safety pin on each side while making sure it goes throught both the ribbon and the pool noodle.
Step 5: Step 4 : Installation
Now that we have completed our arch and that we are happy with the look of it, we need to install it at its final location. I would recommend being with another person to do this step, otherwise you are taking the risk of damaging the structure that we just did.
For this installation, I have used 5 cables ties for each sides :
2 of them in a cross pattern on stake
2 at top part on the covered PVC pipe
1 at the bottom on the stake
I would suggest to start by securing both side with only the top cable tie. That will allow you to be able to move the angle that your structure is taking so it's aligned on each side and that you have a nice archway.
Once you are happy with the look of you arch, you can install all the other cable ties. Make sure they are really tight!
Step 6: Step 5 : Decoration
Now the fun part beginnings! We are going to hide all the cable ties and the stake that we can see. For that we are going to need the garland. But first, if you have a wreath, now is the time to secure it on the top part of your arch, where the PVC pipe is. I used a single cable tie for that.
For this, wrap the garland around the top part of your fence post and the bottom outward part of each side of the arch while trying to create a ball shape. You are going to need to do a fee paths on each side to completely hide the garden stakes and the cable ties.
Once this is one, you can use of what's left of the garland to go wrap you arch. As our fence decoration uses a home made garland, we continued around the arch to give it a finish look.
You can also add lights using the same wrapping method. I was fortunate enough that I have a part of the string of lights I'm using on my fence left. I didn't know what to do with it, so it was buried in the fence post top. I used that to go around my arch, inside the wreath and back down the other side.
Congratulation on installing your arch ! I hope that you'll have a lot of fun doing this project !