Copper Trellis for Under $25




Introduction: Copper Trellis for Under $25

I really enjoy the look of copper outdoors and in the garden. Copper is easy to work with, looks great, is inexpensive, and weathers beautifully. In this instructable, I will show you how you can make a very attractive and unique copper trellis out of common materials for typically under $25.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials required:

2 x 10' 1/2" copper pipe ($13)
4 x 45 degree1/2" copper elbows ($1-$2)
2 x 1/2" copper T's ($1-$2)
2 x 20' copper wire. I used 12 ga wire left overs, but I saw 25' of romex was about $10 at the store. Bonus if you don't have to strip the wires - it's kind of a pain to strip 20'.

Tools required:

Soldering equipment - torch, solder, flux - see
Drill or drill press

Step 2: Laying Out, Cutting, Dry Fitting

I used some spare boards I had laying around to cut and lay out the dimensions first before cutting the actual copper. These are the dimensions I ended up using to fit our space. You may want it taller or wider, or a different design all together.

I cut the 12", 2 x 6", and 2 x 30" first. Then I measured and cut the 21 1/4". The 24" base will be driven into the ground. It's probably more than is necessary, but I had a lot of pipe available.

Once everything fits the way you want it, it's time to drill the holes for the wire.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

At this point you should drill the holes. I drilled using 3" spacing. This gave me 11 horizontal runs and 4 vertical runs. If you have a drill press, you will be able to get all of the holes nice and uniform. I used a hand drill, and, well, you can tell.

Copper's very soft. I just used a standard bit, just big enough for my wire to fit through, and went slow.

Once the holes are drilled, it's time to solder.

Step 4: Soldering

Learning to solder copper pipe is out of the scope of this instructable, but there are many great tutorials and videos online. Also, this is a great project to learn with, because if you mess up, it's not like you will flood your basement.

In order to keep everything square, I fit the whole thing together again and laid it out on my concrete floor. Warning, this may stain the floor a bit. If you're one of those people that can't stain your garage floor (hi Dad!), seek help.

Once laid out, I simply went around and soldered each joint in turn. I find that you can't apply flux that well when the pipe is hot, so I would sort of alternate between opposite joints, looking for a cool section to solder.

I suggest leaving the bottom two pipes that will be buried unsoldered.

Step 5: Wiring

I had about 25' of 12 gauge romex from a previous project. 14 gauge would work fine too. Just make sure it's solid core!

The first step is to strip it from its outer sheath. I ended up with one long uninsulated wire (the ground), and two insulated wires. I calculated that I needed about 20' for the horizontal runs, and 10' for the vertical runs. So I used the uninsulated for the horizontal, so that there was less to strip.

Simply, I terminated the wires by neatly wrapping it around the post a few times. I considered soldering it in place, but I didn't see the need.

I wasn't able to get the lengths of wires as tight as I would have liked. Perhaps someone has a better idea :)

Step 6: Installing

If you left the bottom two pipes unsoldered, as I did, then the next step is to go pound them into the ground. I used a scrap piece of wood between the hammer and pipe so that I didn't ruin the top of the pipe.

That's it! If you do something like this, post a link to the pictures here so I can see the variations :)

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    3 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I was just about to throw away a bunch of copper pipe and wire left over from rennovations. Incidentally, one of the major ingredients of Miracle Grow fertilizer is copper sulphate - hence it's bright blue colour.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as copper begins to break down in soil, (which can be almost immediately) it creates a compound called Copper sulfate. It IS a killer to plants. This can be verified online. You may also buy it at various Super stores for killing roots in your sewer. Please understand, I think this is a very nice layout, and I agree that it will look cool when it turns green, ...perhaps use some galvanized pipe in the ground first and then place the copper into that. As far as the trellis goes, let it weather a bit then spray a clear coating on it, so it won't affect the climbing plants. Nice instructable.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I have looked around online and find no evidence that suggests that copper pipes will leach copper sulfate into the soil. There are many other examples of copper in people's gardens. Even so, it is easy enough to switch out the ground posts with rebar or black pipe, so I may do that and update the instructable.