by Chris McLaughlin
Sandwich board A-frames are simple to build, store, and modify. If you’re not worried about storing it, you can forgo the hinges, and screw or wire the top of the structure together (where the boards meet).
This sandwich board A-frame in this photo was made with plastic poultry/garden netting because it’s what I had on hand, but you can switch out the plastic netting for any other climbing materials that you’d like. Also notice the short, rectangle “planters” at the bottom. We had extra fence boards and added them on later to create a small bed for the shallow-rooted green beans.
If I wanted to plant a vegetable with deeper roots, I would simply add however many extra boards to the planters at the bottom.
Gather your materials:
- 6 fence boards, 4″-6″ wide, 6-foot long
- 6 wood screws, 5/8″
- 2 sets of metal hinges
- 16 wood screws, 1 1/2″
- 1 roll of 3-foot-wide poultry or garden netting
- Manual heavy-duty stapler (T-50)
- Drill gun with screw bit
Assemble your sandwich board A-frame:
1. Take two of the 6-foot fence boards and using your jigsaw, saw them in half so that you now have four 3-foot boards.
2. Place two of the 6′ boards vertically on the ground in front of you.
3. Take one of the 3′ boards (that you cut) and lay it horizontally at the top of the 6′ boards so that the ends of the 3′ board lay over the top ends of the 6′ board.
4. Secure one end of the horizontal top board to the top end of one of the 6′ boards with two, 5/8″ screws. Do the same to the other board ends. This will give you one frame.
5. Using the remaining two 6′ boards and the remaining two 3′ boards, create another frame.
6. Make sure the 3′ cross board is “on top” (meaning that the 6′ long boards are pressed against the ground) and lay one frame down in front of you.
7. Take the second frame that you created and place it flat on the ground above the first one. Remember, their 3′ cross boards should not be touching the ground.
8. Space the two hinges evenly apart on the 3′ cross boards. Using two, 1 1/2″ screws, attach one of the hinge flaps into one of the cross boards on the frame, and the other hinge flap to the cross board of the second frame. Repeat for second hinge.
9. Stand your sandwich board A-frame up. Unroll the garden netting partway.
10. Starting at the outside bottom of your A-frame, staple the end of the netting to the bottom of one panel.
11. Roll the netting up and over the other side of the entire frame all the way down to the bottom of the other side. If you’re using netting that’s much wider than your frame, simply use sturdy scissors or wire cutters to trim the material even with the sides of the frame.
12. Staple the netting to the bottom cross board. Add staples up all four sides of the A-frame at about 8″-12″ intervals.
Remember to stand the frame up before you secure the netting (or whatever material you’re using) to it. If you add the climbing material while it’s flat on the ground, there won’t be enough give in the material to allow it to bend into an A-frame. Your sandwich board A-frame is now ready for the garden!
Chris McLaughlin is the author of Vertical Vegetable Gardening (Alpha Books; December, 2012), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Composting (Alpha Books, 2010), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables (Alpha Books, 2010), and
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Small-Space Gardening (Alpha Books, 2012. You can visit her online at A Suburban Farmer.
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