Our DIY bamboo garden arbor has become the center piece of the front gardens. It certainly has been a long time coming. We have known since we planned our gardens in the winter that we wanted to build a trellis between the raised beds for our cucumbers to grow up. The outcome was well worth the wait.
Bamboo construction can be as simple or complex as you want to take on. Our goal was to create a garden arbor that would make harvesting a breeze while maximizing our growing space. We built our arbor to fit into our existing raised beds bridging the space between the two. This bamboo arbor can be constructed to be free standing or to bridge between two raised beds as we are using it.
Connecting bamboo pieces with a strong joint is the key to creating a bamboo structure that lasts. The lashing should be done with either cotton or nylon twine. Regular bailing twine will deteriorate quickly in the elements. The best material is a lashing cord with wax coating.
There are two types of lashings that we used on the bamboo arbor. The first and most used one is the standard square lashing. It is used to connect two overlapping bamboo poles. This is used for every knot on our arbor expect two. If you learn any knot for building bamboo garden structures this is it. This video tutorial will give you all the info you need about tying a square lashing:
The first type of lashing that we used was the drilled lashing. It is created by drilling a hole in the end of one bamboo pole. The second bamboo pole is attached at the end of another bamboo pole. The lashing is threaded through the holes and tied around the second bamboo pole. I used this great tutorial to learn all about tying a drilled lashing and so much more.
how to build a bamboo arbor
- Bamboo poles
- Side Frame:
- 4 Main posts (2” or more diameter) – 7’ long for freestanding / 6’4” for raised bed
- 2 Upper Beams – (2” diameter) – 36”-42” long
- 2 Lower Beams – (1” diameter) – 36” long
- 12 Diagonal poles – (1” diameter) various lengths
- Top Frame:
- 2 beams – (1” diameter) – 36” long
- 2 joists – (1” diameter) – 48” long
- 6 slats – (1” diameter or smaller) – 48” long
- Lashing Twine
- Lag bolts and washers
- Side Frame:
Begin by cutting the lengths of bamboo you need to construct the frames for the two sides. Because our bamboo arbor needed to fit into our raised beds, the height and width was adjusted for the custom size. We aimed for an arbor that was 3 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet high.
Measure and cut the four main posts that support the entire structure. It’s best to use larger bamboo poles for the main posts to bear the weight of the arbor and plants growing on it. Next, cut the upper beams that will support the overhead portion of the arbor. You want the beams to extend past the posts an inch or more, so cut it longer than you plan to space the posts. Finally, cut the lower beams. The lower beams will not extend past the posts like the top beam. Give yourself an inch or so extra to make tying the lashing easier.
With the side frame pieces cut, go ahead and drill holes about an inch from the end of each main post. Now lay out the side frame. Place the two main posts spaced about 36″ apart. Lay one upper beam across the top of the two posts making a T-shape.
Cut a 4-5′ length of lashing twine to join the post to the beam with a drilled lashing. Tie a clove hitch knot on the post just below the hole. Thread the lashing twine through the hole and continue to lash the poles together. Tighten the lashing and tie it off. Repeat this on the other post to complete the top support.
Now, lay the lower beams across the posts. Cut a length of lashing twine to join the bamboo. Attach the beam to the post using the square lashing. Again, start with the clove hitch knot on the post tightly lashing the posts together. Tighten and tie the lashing off. Repeat on the other post.
After the first side frame is finished, set up the second side and lash the posts and beams together repeating the same steps. With both frames complete, it’s time to start adding the decorative trellis to the side frames.
Lay out the pattern you intend to create. Our pattern was created by attaching three bamboo poles diagonally on each side of the side frame spacing them equally. Mark the places you need to cut the bamboo poles for your custom pattern.
We had three bamboo poles on each side equally spaced which meant 6 total poles on one side frame. After the pieces are cut attach them to the side frame with a square lashing. Attach all of the poles on one side, then flip the side frame over and attach the diagonal poles on the other side. Repeat these steps on the matching side frame.
With the side frames done, it’s time to build the top frame for the overhead structure. Measure and cut the two beams and two joists for the top frame. Place the longer joists on top of the shorter beams creating a rectangle. Lash the first joist to a beam with a square lashing. Repeat this at each corner.
With the top frame completed, start adding the slats across the top. Cut the 6 slats to match the length of the joist. Lay the slats out running the same direction as the joists and spacing them equally. Lash the slats to the beam below using a square lashing. Now, the only things left to do is to get the side frames in the ground and attach it to the top frame.
Raised bed built in
If you are building an arbor to attach to a raised garden bed, now is the time to do that. Insert the first side frame into the edge of the raised bed, and align it to the desired height. Drill two holes through the bamboo post into the corner post of the raised bed. Use a lag screw with washer to attach the bamboo pole. Be careful not to over tighten and split the bamboo.
If you are building a freestanding arbor, drive the corner posts of the side frame into the ground 12-18” deep. Measure and install the second side frame about 36″ away.
After the two side frames are installed in the ground, place the top frame across the top of the two side frames. Before attaching the top frame, step away and make sure the top frame is aligned the way you want. It’s not easy to do, but you can shift the poles some with the lashings on adjusting them as needed. Once everything looks even and centered, lash the four corners that connect to the upper beam with square lashings. After finishing each corner, recheck that the top frame remains in place.
With the top frame tied down, it’s time to get some plants growing all over the arbor. We built our arbor to grow cucumbers on, but this structure can hold a lot more weight, so much so Kristyn and I were joking about doing some pull-ups on it. I’m sure that we will grow all kinds of things on this durable DIY bamboo garden arbor. This makes tying all those knots well worth it. We love bamboo around here, and thanks to my uncle there’s no shortage. The next bamboo project is already being dreamed up.