Build your own trellis for climbing vines from galvanized pipe — Gavin explains how

Lots of readers had fun suggesting curb appeal ideas for Sarah and Liz’s 1946 Victory Home in Winnipeg. Gavin had a great idea that lots of folks seem interested: Creating a frame to grow creeping vines like Honeysuckle or Dutchman’s Pipe on the outside front of the house. Here is his explanation of how to do this yourself… along with a gorgeous photo of his own home, where he has constructed this frame and the vines are on their way. Gavin says:

A frame can easily be made from pipe so that it stands two feet away from the house…Honeysuckle or Dutchmans Pipe would be pretty. Pick one and let them grow together. Add a few hollyhocks and Bleeding Heart and it’ll be “Grandma Time”. I would not recommend Wisteria anywhere near a slab foundation home: It will practically be sprouting through the concrete floor of your living room!

Pam adds: Click this thumbnail to see Gavin’s houseand trellis, larger:

I used lengths of galvanized pipe from the home center. Not too $$$. I built it into inverted l_l shapes using screw-on elbows and t-joints in the center with pipe and flange (to attach it to the house). The open ends I sunk 4 feet in the ground and planted at the base. Set this at least 2 feet from the house for trimming, access, window washing and moisture control. It will look like nothing for a few weeks…not too hot the first year……and then- you are going to expect Jack and the Giant to come running down any moment!

(Regarding Sarah & Liz’ house, Gaving suggested:) Two ideas for your consideration: Because it is stucco- I would love to see vines. One on the left corner and one between the front windows.….If you DO go with the vine idea…let it reach for the sky….or at least the roofline. You could also train it to wrap around toward your doorway as well. Google Image: Dutchmans Pipe.

In your snow-y climate, it can easily be kept in check and not swallow your home!

Think cute and best wishes!

Best wishes to you both, Gavin

Thank you, Gavin. My brother-in-law used the same process you described to create a set of three trellises, also set on the side of the house, for roses. I recall there was some sort of welding involved, e.g. He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins. My BIL also used copper pipe, which cost a bloody fortune, and that was even before copper prices soared further in the last few years. All that aging copper-gone-verdigris looks fantastic, of course. But, even just using galvanized — it’s clear how this is a great idea.

Question, Gavin: I made poles for my vintage birdhouses out of galvanized pipe and connected them into plumbing connector-gasket-thingies that I screwed into the bottom of the birdhouses. When I did this, I had to pay a little extra to the lumberyard where I got the runs of pipe (which they cut to my size specificatios) to thread the ends to screw into the connector-gasket-thingies. Is this required, also, in the project you describe? That is, how do the screw-on elbow screw on to the runs? And, will we need our own pipe-cutters to get the trellis pieces sized correctly?


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. gavin hastings says

    I used four 12 foot sections of pipe for each vertical post. They came threaded at each end. At the tops of the two furthest posts I screwed an elbow joint with 3 openings, the third opening facing toward the house. To that third opening- I inserted a two foot piece with a flange threaded on to the end. I did the same on the 2 “inside” posts, but I used a T-connector with the center opening facing toward the house The flanged ends, I later attached to the board on each side of the center porch arch and at each end.

    Is everybody still with me???

    I connected each of these 4 long pieces with two 4 foot pieces of pipe joined together to create a eight foot piece (the space between the wooden posts of my porch). Assemble these pieces “flat” on your lawn. It should look like a comb-with 4 teeth and 4 pipes standing upright with a saucer (the flange) on it. Line it up to where you want it to stand (in my case-in front of each porch post) and start digging your holes.
    Two people can stand this upright and set it into the holes. I then screwed the flanges to the house, keeping everything level.

    Attaching this frame to the house keeps it secure. What you see growing in the photo is Wisteria, three months after planting. Now 5 years later, it would have consumed the house, if I did not prune it with malice twice a year. It is beautiful, especially when in bloom…but it really is a plant an owner has to go to war with. 3 years after erecting this structure, I removed the flanges literally was “bringing down the house”..or at least the porch. It is woody enough now to stand on its ownthe trunks are now 3 inches across.

    I paid about $135 at Home Depot to erect this structure and another $150 for the Nursery Wisteria . It took about 4 hours to build. I have no qualms about sitting out on my porch now, because I don’t feel at though I am on a “stage”.

    I don’t know if there is a “better” way of doing this…but this is how did it. After 5 years I have had no problem. Good luck!

    • pam kueber says

      ok. i can follow. with just one question: how did you attached the pipes to house exactly? and… if you want to sent me a drawing you sure can!

      • pam kueber says

        p.s. I am all inspired. Today (a gorgeous day in the Berkshires), instead of rewarding myself for getting all my tax paperwork done by going to the laundromat to felt some wool sweaters to may crispina dresses with, i am going to go to the lumbaryard to buy me some pipe to finish the posts for the two estate-sale birdhouses languishing in the garage. hmmm, there might even be 4 there, now that i think about it…

      • gavin hastings says

        It is soooo hard to explain this simple process….(see above post!)

        Imagine a flag pole attached to your house horizontally…or in your case, if instead of a birdhouse….you had just screwed your pipe and flange to the side of your house….I will try to send a photo.

        From the amount of non-posts…I think this idea may not catch on….

        • Ali says

          Gavin – can you send some close-up photos of the trellis to help us understand what you described in terms of the types of connectors, etc.?

  2. gavin hastings says

    Of course, one more thing-

    The framework is set away, so that the vine never actually touches the house. No bugs, no termite highway, no mess, no moisture. I can easily paint and a twice a year I run electric hedgeclippers between the house and the vine.
    This was so successful-I added another to the left side/over of the garage door.

  3. says

    I’m with you, Gavin! Your home is lovely, even without the trellis! That golden body color is a winner…would you be willing to share the color ID with us?

    This just what I need to support my four young pyracanthas. The chain link fence they need to cover is not stable enough to support their mature weight, I’m told, and it could be the death of both the fence and the wall it’s on. But I wonder if I attach the flanges to the fence somehow, whether the stress will be bad for the fence anyway. I’ll have to ask Mr. Elvis about that.

  4. Zew Croo Mom says

    I really like the idea of this trellis because it doesn’t touch your structure. And the hedge clippers tip took care of my other concern! Now I’m debating where I might put a trellis…

  5. Happy Daze says

    I’m digging the trellis idea, and I especially like the fact that the vines don’t actually touch the house.

    Your house looks awesome, by the way. The simplified Colonial cottage is a timeless style.

  6. MrsErinD says

    I love that idea Gavin! Your house and the trellis are so very gorgeous, wow! I really love how the trellis follows the lines of the archways and how you figured it to sit away from the house. Your house is like a storybook home!

    I will have to look at my small house and figure a similar but smaller scale idea, I like that, but we have brick, a little harder to attach things too, but I am sure Hubby can figure that out, hehe.

  7. RetroSandie says

    Just have to say that Gavin’s house is GORGEOUS! Talk about HOUSE BEAUTIFUL. It looks so perfect…congrats on the wonderful job you’ve done including adding the trellises. I can almost smell the honeysuckle…….mmmmmm!! 🙂

  8. gavin hastings says

    Thanks everyone for your kind words about the house.

    Jane (aka Elvis)-The body of the house is Benjamin Moore Dorset Gold HC8, the trim is Carrington Beige HC93 and the blinds are Essex Green.

  9. Cindy says

    Gavin, your house is so inviting! I couldn’t help but notice the slate walkway because I’m planning a slate entry area and wonder if yours is original or more recent. If it’s recent, I’m wondering who did it (since we live in the same area) because I’d love to get a quote from him/them.

    • gavin hastings says

      Gary Brissette Just Right Masonry. I have his # but don’t know if I’m crossing any lines here…

      He did a great job.

      You also might want to check with the folks in the cute red house on George Street. They had a flagstone walkway put in about 8 years ago….not that I scope out the “competition” in other towns…….

    • gavin hastings says

      Hey Cindy….Just thought…..

      What if you used ONLY the red slate? I’ve never seen it done before-but it could really look spectacular at your house.

      …..not that I stalk houses or anything…..

  10. says

    Great idea. I have done this in copper, then in my garden I used crepe myrtle branches bound together in forms. Now as a home inspector, I was wondering how far away from the home you set the trellis. I always suggest one foot at least of air space to prevent problems for the house. The home I inspected yesterday had a good deal of damage happening to the brick due to vines.

  11. Cindy says

    Thanks, Gavin, for that info. I walk by the red house frequently in the good weather which is here now! And it’s ok to admit that we all scope out the “competition”!
    I hope I can come up with a slate entry that is durable and invitiing, too!

  12. pam kueber says

    I just have to agree with everyone else: Gavin, your house has terrific curb appeal. It looks so comfy, cozy, engaging… Can I come visit this summer and sit on the porch with you? And I have to tantalize the other readers: I have seen some photos of the interior, too, and there are fantastic things going on there, too. I promise to show some photos soon.

    • David Conwill says

      Did we ever get the promised tour of Mr. Hastings’s House? We’re closing on a 1948 colonial with strongly similar exterior themes, and I’m dying to know what an appropriate inside looks like.


  13. nina462 says

    Where do I get tix for this house tour? All kidding aside, your house does look fab. Thanks for the trellis idea, as I was out looking at my raspberry bushes that need to trellised this year. That is a good idea-

  14. Ann-Marie Meyers says

    Years and years later (Okay, a year and a half): I have the same posts and roof line on my front porch as Gavin. I was toying with the idea of yanking it all out and replacing it with cast iron or aluminum scrollwork columns, which is what was probably there originally, but his idea is so beautiful, and probably a lot less pricey.
    One thing I might mention for midwesterners and midatlantic people. At least around here, there are quite a few Amish who do custom iron work. You can get posts, poles, anything you want. Check local antique shops. They usually have business cards there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *