A DIY Tutorial: Repurposing an Old Cattle Panel
An easy DIY (do-it-yourself) vertical gardening project is the creation of an arch by bending a cattle panel into the arch shape, pounding four t-posts into the ground a little over one foot and securing the panel on both sides where each side touches the ground to these t-posts with post clips or wire.
For those of you not familiar with the cattle panel, it consists of horizontal and vertical galvanized metal rods welded together to form a rectangular grid. Its intended purpose is to fence in larger animals such as hogs, sheep and cattle, but its study build and weather-resistant surface give the gardener the ability to quickly put together growing platforms such as trellises and arches that will last for many years.
The typical panel is 50″ high and 16′ long, but I have seen shorter versions, I would estimate about 36″ in height. The other major item needed is the t-post, which is pounded into the ground and secured to the panel with t-post fencing clips or wire. Get the shortest t-posts you can find, as the point where the panel is tied to the t-post is near the ground. At most stores stocking t-posts, this would likely be posts 4-5′ in length.
For me, this was essentially a no-cost project, as I used an old panel once used to fence in horses, and some old t-posts I had lying around. It may be difficult to find a free panel, but you might be able to get the t-posts for free by placed an ad in the Craigslist “wanted” section.
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Cattle Panel (1)
Temporary Stake or Rod (1)
Fencing Clips or Wire
Sledge Hammer or T-Post Driver
Pliers or Wire Wrap Tool
Step 1 – Prepare Soil, Survey Placement Location
Select an area with sufficient space for the arch. The bottoms of the arch legs are usually placed 4′-6′ apart, with the panel edge spanning 50″ (a tad more than 4′), you will need at least 16 square feet (4×4) of space, perhaps as much as 25 square feet (4×6 plus a little extra).
Prepare the soil prior to erecting the arch, the use of rototillers of pick axes can be dangerous once the panel is set up.
Step 2 – Place Panel, Pound in Posts Along One Edge
Lie the panel on the ground with one end aligned to its desired placement location. Align the first t-post with the second rod on the panel, then use your sledge hammer or post driver to pound the post into the ground to the point where the t-post’s bottom plate is completely buried. If your soil is dried and hard, soak the area with water before attempting to drive it into the ground.
For the second t-post, the alignment will be at the next-to-last rod. Pound in the second post as you did the first. The reason for placing the posts aligned with the next-to-last rod on either end is the need to have a horizontal cross rod to wrap the fencing clips around.
Step 3 – Push Panel into Arch Shape, Pound in Temporary Stake
Measure out the distance from the end of the panel where the t-posts have been pounded in and mark the spot where the other end will be placed. Find a stake, rod or use one of the other t-posts and lay it down with the sledge hammer or post driver next to the spot you marked. Now move around to the far end of the panel and lift the panel up into the arch shape. Move forward until you reach the mark you previously made. Grab your stake, or rod and pound it into the ground near the middle of the panel’s edge to hold the panel in place until the remaining t-posts are set. This stake will be on the outside of the arch.
Step 4 – Pound in Final Two Posts, Secure Panel to Posts with Wire or Fencing Clips
As was done with the first two t-posts, align the remaining t-posts to the respective panel rods one rod in from the edge on each side. Secure the panel to each post using wire or fencing clips near the bottom of each post. You may want to add a second wire or clip to each post further up, how far depends on your preferred arch shape. Remove the temporary stake and you are good to go.
Using Fencing Clip to Secure Panel
Using rebar wire to secure panel:
Step 5 – Plant and Enjoy!
Your vertical gardening journey has begun.
After a couple of months my Crane melons and lemon cucumbers have started bearing fruit as you can see in the picture below.