Sunday, May 5, 2013

DIY Kiwi Arbor

For a couple of years, I have wanted to grow kiwi and to build an arbor for them to grow.  This Spring, it developed into a plan, but at first I did not know what kind of arbor to make.  At one point, I had an idea of an elaborate arbor that doubled as a tire swing for the kids, but such a project would have been quite consuming, and someone mentioned that the kiwi might attract bees, so having an arbor doubling as a rigorous play area, might not be the wisest choice.  Swinging around might upset the bees and cause many stings. 

There are many things to consider in beginning a project.  Where to place it; how to design it.  We decided that simple was best.  My neighbor has a beautiful tall arbor with at least 6 to 8 posts; and her kiwi is very tall and expanded.  Our yard is much smaller; and I did not want to have to stand on a ladder that tall to harvest and prune kiwi.  Hence, we have a short 2 posted arbor. 

For the past couple of months, I've been looking at and studying every arbor I would pass.  None of them were quite what I wanted until I saw one just down the street, I hadn't noticed before.

I stopped my car, and took a picture.  If they saw me taking a picture into their yard, they might think I was some kind of a weirdo.  

This was the kind of design that I thought might work; only I wanted to make the ends deeper.  

Still, we didn't really know the first thing about making an arbor, using cement, etc.  So, I consulted some DIY websites.  

Our result is a combination of using this picture as a guide and consulting different arbor building websites.  

 Here is the recipe we came up with. Ingredients first:

2 4x4 8' posts pressure treated
4 2x4 8'
4 2x6 6' end pieces
6 2x2 8'   pole pieces

(4)2x4 braces made from scraps

gravel to put in holdes under posts
150# cement
2 tube forms 
carriage bolt and washers 12”/ and 12' bit
3" screws

Drill, saw, auger

The first step we took was to rototill and level the area we chose for the arbor.

Then we rented an auger to dig the holes 2' deep.  This part was a bear.  It took both of us all our strength to hold the machine and it got stuck at first.  Lesson learned,  make sure you don't just dig down; dig a little down, lift up, dig some more downward, lift up, etc.

Our auger looked like a BORG!
After diggging the holes, we inserted the tube forms and  shoveled in some gravel

(After cutting the lumber to the right size with corners cut diagonally: We had a neighbor who graciously let us borrow their skill saw.)    We placed the posts into the tubes, centered; drilled on supports, leveled, etc.

Once we had the posts as we wanted them, freestanding; we poured the dry cement (about 75# each hole)  We put on goggles/respirator to protect eyes and lungs.  

For each 50# of cement, you need about a gallon of water.  You just pour it on top and let it seep into the cement.  We covered it to protect our pets from getting into it while it set.  We let it be for the next 24 hours.

When it was dry; the next day, we pre-drilled and drilled with the very large bit to bolt 2 of the 2x6 pieces to the each post. Measuring to center and leveling them.

Then we predrilled and drilled on the 2x4 perpendicular on top of the 2x6 at an angle into the the 2x6. We measured again and leveled, making marks in pencil to guide us.  My husband fashioned a little extra triangle piece to help support the structure.  

The last step was to measure, place, predrill, and drill the 6 poles onto the top.

After it was all put together, I planted the Kiwi!  (you need both male and female plants unless you know a neighbor has another male plant)


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