Garden Steel Pergola - for Kiwi and Grape




About: I am an engineer in high tech. I like to make things. ( many of which are not high tech :) )

A pergola is a flat top structure that can act an arbor to support plants. Sometimes used as shade or for decoration. I decided to build one out of steel as I like the narrow lines and like to weld. I am pretty well over that now... It took a bit longer than I anticipated....

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Step 1: Design, Materials, Tools

I settled on the design in the picture. It was design #5 of 5.. The dimensions of the top are 10' x 10' as steel comes in 20' lengths, and the area I was going to place the pergola called for about that size. Height was still a variable, so I ordered enough steel for eight 10' legs (2 per corner). I also decided to do the whole thing with 1"x2" box.

I went with .065 inch steel as I didn't really need lots of strength, and it cost 1/2 as much( as 1/8th), but it was more difficult to weld and is a bit more fragile and prone to burn through when welding in the breeze outside. The final structure is very strong - easily supports me.

Step 2: The Top

This is the assembly of the top flat design of the pergola - squares inside squares. Assembly of this section was the easy part as I could work at ground level.

Step 3: Place and Level

This was definitely the biggest structureI had tried to weld. The upper pattern flat part was easy, but I decided i could not pre-attach the legs then move it without fear of tumbling disaster. My solution was to build a temporary wood scaffold to hold the top both level and in position, then attach the legs in place. Not sure it was the best solution, but it did work.

Step 4: Legging

Attach the legs, make sure they are vertical, and anchor them.

Step 5: Finishing the Structure and Welds

I decided to add little cross braces - looks and strength. Then cleaned up all my welds on the tops of legs.

Step 6: Paint, and Done

Painted black, and done!. If you want to see it covered with vines and fruit, check back in ~ two years.

Summer 2008 Pergola Project

Step 7: Ten Years Later

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    11 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    That is a great, and reasonable question. I really don't remember the details. I only purchased the 1x2 box steel, and paint. I did buy expensive primer and paint - it has held up very well. vague memory , about $100 on steel and $100 on paint. I am not counting welding wire, gas, scrap steel, concrete, etc. - If i did it again i would use heavier steel , at least for the legs, then i could put up a hammock :)


    4 years ago

    Any photos with the kiwi and grape growth? Very nice work!

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the kind words! I couldn't find anything recent, and it is pouring rain today... in the pics below, the bare view is from spring of 2013, and the grape pics are from summer and fall of 2012. Not chronologically organized...

    2013-03-29 15.33.00 (Medium).jpg2012-09-14 17.34.07 (Medium).jpg2012-07-29 12.28.12 (Medium).jpg

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Did you wrap the metal that went into the concrete in plastic or anything? Are you planning to add anything to the top for shade or just leave it like it is? Good job, looks great.

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, and re: cover - no. In theory it will be covered in grape and kiwi vines shortly...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I painted them liberally with the oil based primer and then was "careful" not to scratch it off when filling in the tubes with wet quick-crete. I thought about doing a plastic bag or something, but did not. I have used "galvanizing paint" before, and it would have probably been a good addition at this stage.