How to Build a Bamboo Trellis for your Garden

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We have an abundance of bamboo available to us, so it makes sense that we’d use it as a building material for garden projects.  It’s sturdy, readily available, comes in a variety of sizes, and it’s free. And this bamboo trellis uses a building method that’s a little bit unusual!

bamboo trellis in a lush, green garden

The seemingly simple bamboo trellis has given use trouble in the past, though.  We’ve lashed them with jute twine. We’ve lashed them with nylon cord. And we’ve made them with baling wire. With all three methods, the binding gave out before the bamboo, falling victim to our humid climate. 

This generally happens when the plant climbing the trellis is at its absolute best, causing much woe in the garden

bamboo trellis construction - bamboo pinned with smaller bamboo

My son came up with a solution, though. Instead of using a material that ages at a different rate than the bamboo, he figured out a way to make a bamboo trellis entirely out of bamboo.

Instead of wrapping and lashing the bamboo poles, he made them with bamboo pins. By drilling holes and inserting a smaller piece of bamboo to secure the top, as well as at the sides to reinforce it, we now have a trellis that will eventually decompose, yes, but all at the same rate. 

Build a Bamboo Trellis

Step one: Choose and cut your bamboo poles. You’ll want poles with a 1″ to 2″ diameter. Height will depend on what you’re trellising. (Mine are 4′ – 5′ tall.)

bamboo trellis construction - bamboo pinned with smaller bamboo

Step two: Drill a hole near the top of each pole an equal distance from the top of the pole, as shown. I used a 1/2″ drill bit here.

Step three: Cut a small length of bamboo that will fit through the holes you’ve drilled. The pin shown above is just slightly smaller in diameter than the 1/2″ holes. You’ll see in one of the images below that my son used a 1″ drill bit for his holes with a substantially smaller pin. This gave his bamboo trellis a bit of flexibility, so that his poles are aligned in more of a “twist.”

bamboo trellis in the garden

Step four: Stand your trellis upright. Measure the distance between each set of poles, and cut a piece of bamboo (similar in diameter to your uprights) that’s about 8″ longer than your measurement to allow for overlap. Holding the bamboo in the place you plan to attach it, mark where you’ll need holes: One in each end of the crosspiece and one in each upright.

Step five: Drill holes where marked. (We use a cordless drill so we can do this right in the garden.)

bamboo trellis construction - close up

Related: Grow an Upside-Down Tomato to Save Space

Step six: Cut two pins and use them to secure the first crosspiece in place. Repeat steps four through six with the two remaining sides of your bamboo trellis. So far, we’ve only made trellises with one row of crosspieces, but you could certainly add more.

Working with Bamboo

Bamboo is very sturdy but you can see that it tends to shred a bit when cutting or drilling it because it’s so fibrous. A hacksaw seems to be the best way to cut bamboo for a cleaner edge, but my son cut these with a chainsaw. The rough edges don’t bother me.

bamboo trellis in a lush, green garden

Need some more ideas for creating vertical growing space? Check these out! 

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

5 comments… add one
  • Andi Houston Apr 24, 2016, 3:22 pm

    I also use bamboo everywhere (I’m in Florida) and this idea is brilliant! Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Linda Putthoff Jun 24, 2016, 9:26 pm

    Zip ties. Work great for tomato cages i build

  • Katherine Apr 8, 2020, 1:59 pm

    Will fresh bamboo grow if it’s stuck in the ground?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 12, 2020, 10:32 am

      I’m careful about that! I make sure I’m not pushing a node of fresh bamboo into soil.

    • susie pisano May 21, 2020, 4:49 pm

      yes, sometimes but not all the time. dont get a node under the ground and your pretty safe. you’ll see if it starts to grow. and then you can pull it. you’ll get the season out of it for sure.

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