I've always wanted an arched trellis entry into my garden. There are so many wrought iron ones I see at garden shows that are just gorgeous. I wish I were talented in this way, as the price tags are a bit beyond my budget... Still, I admire them!!
A couple years ago, I noticed our plum trees really needed to be trimmed. The branches were so low that they were hiding the garden plants beneath them. I trimmed it so the lowest branches were right about fence height (6') allowing them to still be used as part of our privacy screen. After trimming them, I had so many branches! They were all different sizes and because they were freshly cut, they were quite pliable.
Immediately I knew I wanted to make an arched trellis above the side yard gate. What I didn't know was how I would anchor it and put it all together. Off to the big box building/garden store I went! I scoured the aisles, not knowing what I was looking for, but knowing that when I saw it, I'd know it!
Finally I found these iron posts by the garden trellis section. The idea is that you wouldn't have to place your wooden trellis posts into the earth (where they wear away over time...). You'd put the wooden trellis post right into the iron post. The iron post could be pushed down into the ground, supporting your wooden trellis. These iron posts came in a couple sizes, so I bought some to play around with.
When I got home, I placed the iron posts in the ground, one on each side of the gate. I wanted my arched trellis to be visible on both sides of the fence, so I used four of the iron posts (2 on each side of the fence).
I started by placing my largest and strongest branches directly into the wooden posts. I kept adding branches, tying them with jute (all I had) as I went. When the branches were built up in all four spots I had a bunch of sticks in the air. I gently shaped them into an arch, tying them to hold in place.
Now that the framework was set, I needed to make sure it would stay. The jute would rot away over time, so I replaced those knots with galvanized wire. To stabilize the trellis I used galvanized U-shaped nails (these come in various sizes) to nail the trellis to the fence posts.
In the end I had a lot of little twigs left. I used them all! I started to make curvy loopy shapes within the trellis, just for some visual interest. Every now and then these little ones break off, but they're easy to replace.
At first the arched trellis was a bit spindly. It wouldn't be until the following year (when I trimmed again) that it became more substantial. I planted clematis at the base of each side, with hopes that it would eventually cover the entire arch. Two years later, my clematis is almost to the top. In a year or two it will look even more beautiful!
The beauty of this is it was virtually free. There was the initial cost of the posts, some galvanized wire, and nails, but other than that...the materials came right from my yard. If you don't have a tree to trim, ask your neighbors for their trimmings! It will save them a trip to haul it away.