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Ergonomics of making cattle panel arches

 
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This is a spin off of a thread about squash What squash climb the best?
I made a couple of cattle panel arch arbors for them to climb, and learned an easy way to do it. They were built by me (58 year old disabled female) and my mom (83 year old lady, who broke her arm last fall) and we did not get hurt, and it was pretty easy. (Some of these drawings are pretty lame, sorry!)

We put up one panel as an arch last year, and it was an exercise in what not to do. Trying to bend it to shape was dangerous, we were both off balance, and it was hard to control and kept whacking us. This time I thought about it more. :D

In the fall we put in T posts in rows, 5 foot apart, spaced so there is a center post for each arch that are 4 feet apart (the width of the panel) and at each end there is a post 2 feet from it to stabilize the end. I angled them so the tops leaned inward, knowing they were not going to hold well in this soil, and would move when pressure was applied. We bought the 16 foot long cattle panels at the same time, but stuff happened and they spent the winter leaning up against the house.

Post and panel layout


We left the panels standing up against the house. I set two ratchet straps so the hooks were 4 feet apart. Then I'd take the far end of the cattle panel and walking behind it, push it in an arc to bend into shape The house held the other end still. Mom had a ratchet strap, and I'd bend it till she could get it to hook to both sides about 2-3 foot from the top of the arch, at about waist height. That held it enough that mom could brace it where I was holding, and I'd go inside the arched panel, and hook the other strap, with myself in the space between the two straps. She'd then go to the top of the arch, and we'd pick it up easily. They are not very heavy, they are mostly very clumsy, and the straps controlled that.





We then carried it to the rows of posts, and it fit  in between them well, easy to carry in. Got the panel where we wanted it, and stood it up on the bottom. Adjusted it's position, then let the bottom strap loose first, to transfer most of the pressure to the stable base of the post, then the top strap, which did move the posts to straight, as it arched gracefully.

We got 4 panels in each line (that's how much space we had for each arbor) and the next day wired them together.

Final result is lovely! And we didn't get hurt! It was very easy to do, and I recommend trying it this way if you are building arches. It beat the heck out of fighting that one last year!




 
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Thanks for the post! I just built a cattle panel for the first time, and I figured I'd share what I did here too. I used something called a vericom clip to attach the panel to lumber instead of post staples. I posted a video to Youtube that briefly explains my thinking. Let me know what you think. Cheers!

 
Pearl Sutton
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Andrew: I envy your geodesic jungle gyms in the background!! :) I'm stalking dead trampolines...

I like what you did there! Really nice set up :D

Good call on the coax clips! I think I'd have put the panels to the interior of the boards, rather than the exterior, just for the pull out problem. I love it that yours can be moved, Mine are held by the T posts, so they are stuck where they are until I move the posts, but they have no wind shear issues, so it's a matter of which you need more. I have excess wind, and right now, no other locations to move things to.

I have quite often (it's one of my default quick fixes) used a loop of plumber's tape (the older thicker stuff works much better than the lightweight modern stuff) with a good long solid screw to hold all kinds of things still.

I envy you working at Habitat, I'm not allowed to, I'd drag home too much stuff... Not allowed to work at the recycle place, thrift stores or the animal shelter either. My mom has threatened me :D

Cool work! Thank you for the ideas!  :D
 
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Pearl:

Thanks for posting this.  I really like the way you put the panels inside the posts and use them to also send the sides vertical and nor bowed excessively out.  I'm guessing the peak height is about 6 1/2'.  Have you measured it?

Bryan
 
Pearl Sutton
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Bryan Elliott wrote:Pearl:

Thanks for posting this.  I really like the way you put the panels inside the posts and use them to also send the sides vertical and nor bowed excessively out.  I'm guessing the peak height is about 6 1/2'.  Have you measured it?

Bryan


I haven't measured, BUT! I hung a wind spinner yesterday, I could just barely reach the top, I can reach up 6 foot 6, so yes, that's a good guess.
:D
 
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Really like how neat they look, great job!  We are putting up cattle panel trellises too, but already see some inherent problems.  Husband was cutting down white pines which were diseased and overshadowed the main garden, so used the trunks on the bottom and just attached the panels with long staples.  I can imagine they will rot after a few years and then with nothing else but occasional rebar holding the logs, will pop loose and we’ll have to rework the whole thing.  Severe deer pressure here so we had to do something to keep them out of the veggies.  The 8 foot fence didn’t work, they just jump over it.  But we put the trellises around the garden perimeter, can grow running beans or other crops inside and they won’t jump high and long so don’t come over the trellises, or so we are hoping.  
CD39472E-27B1-4A94-93A3-B2E713AE1266.jpeg
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[Thumbnail for 43DE45C0-7806-4362-9027-92DF9E3BC049.jpeg]
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Wow. Lots of inspiration. I use three panels in a row in a frame of 2 by 12s. Cover with material that lets over ninety percent sun in. I grow tomatoes inside in stacks of tires. We replaced one panel this year, not too difficult as we put one end in the frame and then walked the other end up until we could slip it in. I connect them with a few zip ties.

I had thought to move the whole hoop house to a better place on the garden but now I think I will just build a second one, next year in the other location. Everyone's pictures are so cool.
 
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Here are pictures of my tomato hoop house with cattle panels.
IMG_20200909_191415849.jpg
Tomatoes on hoop house
Tomatoes on hoop house
IMG_20200909_191237624.jpg
From the outside
From the outside
 
roberta mccanse
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I have to admit that last year was awful for tomatoes. And you can see why we had to replace a panel. This is in my rooftop garden and we do get some powerful wind, enough to bend a panel on one occasion.
 
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those are amazing visuals.  I love it when people are that detailed; it helps me so much!  Thank you for going to all that trouble!
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:This is a spin off of a thread about squash What squash climb the best?
I made a couple of cattle panel arch arbors for them to climb, and learned an easy way to do it. They were built by me (58 year old disabled female) and my mom (83 year old lady, who broke her arm last fall) and we did not get hurt, and it was pretty easy. (Some of these drawings are pretty lame, sorry!)

We put up one panel as an arch last year, and it was an exercise in what not to do. Trying to bend it to shape was dangerous, we were both off balance, and it was hard to control and kept whacking us. This time I thought about it more.

In the fall we put in T posts in rows, 5 foot apart, spaced so there is a center post for each arch that are 4 feet apart (the width of the panel) and at each end there is a post 2 feet from it to stabilize the end. I angled them so the tops leaned inward, knowing they were not going to hold well in this soil, and would move when pressure was applied. We bought the 16 foot long cattle panels at the same time, but stuff happened and they spent the winter leaning up against the house.


Post and panel layout


We left the panels standing up against the house. I set two ratchet straps so the hooks were 4 feet apart. Then I'd take the far end of the cattle panel and walking behind it, push it in an arc to bend into shape The house held the other end still. Mom had a ratchet strap, and I'd bend it till she could get it to hook to both sides about 2-3 foot from the top of the arch, at about waist height. That held it enough that mom could brace it where I was holding, and I'd go inside the arched panel, and hook the other strap, with myself in the space between the two straps. She'd then go to the top of the arch, and we'd pick it up easily. They are not very heavy, they are mostly very clumsy, and the straps controlled that.





We then carried it to the rows of posts, and it fit  in between them well, easy to carry in. Got the panel where we wanted it, and stood it up on the bottom. Adjusted it's position, then let the bottom strap loose first, to transfer most of the pressure to the stable base of the post, then the top strap, which did move the posts to straight, as it arched gracefully.

We got 4 panels in each line (that's how much space we had for each arbor) and the next day wired them together.

Final result is lovely! And we didn't get hurt! It was very easy to do, and I recommend trying it this way if you are building arches. It beat the heck out of fighting that one last year!







Pearl,

I love how you describe in detail what you’ve done. I’m 57 and about 5’ tall. I need to work smarter, not harder.
We have a a passionfruit vine growing over a wooden arch that’s being whipped by the wind and the hanging fruit all the time.

I’ve thought about replacing it with cattle panel but had not quite figured out how to manage it, until I read your post.

I’ve read your post several times, but I don’t see a mention of the width of the arch you made. In a reply, you agreed that it maybe around 6 1/2” tall, but I can’t calculate and picture in my 57 year old brain how wide that is.

How wide is it? And are they 16 ft. long?

Thanks,
Tina
942361DA-ABBB-408A-9A35-7AFAF473F718.jpeg
Passionfruit vine
Passionfruit vine
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tina: yeah, us small women, especially as we get older, REALLY need to work smarter!  I baffle the young people I work with with how I do things by myself.
" T posts in rows, 5 foot apart"  
The panels go between the two rows. So the base of the panels ends up 5 feet apart. The panels are to the inside of the rows of posts. That's why I strap them to about 4 feet to move them, gives me room to get them in place.
That does make the top of the arch 6.5 feet high, I think, still haven't measured it, but I can just barely reach the beans on the top, and I can reach up 6.5 feet .
These are 16 foot long panels, and they are a bit over four feet wide.

I want to see pics when you do it!!

:D

 
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I love my cattle panel trellis.  We have gotten some high winds in the spring 30 to 40 mph with 60 mph gusts.  I put mine up with just one t post, and it was fine.  I would say if you have milder weather then one post on each side will probably be fine.  Two would be a safer bet.  The first arch I made is 6' 1" at the highest point, and a 7'  space at the bottom.  My second one strangely is also 7' 1" at the highest point, and 7' 6" across. The difference is because they are raised beds, and the first is one cement block high, and the second is two blocks high.  
I put my second arch up by myself.  I'm 5'2".  It wasn't that hard. I laid it flat with one end against the post. Then I lifted it up so it didn't get hung up on the other post. I just kind of pushed it back until I could get it on the inside of the post, then I slid it into place.  Then I used wire to secure it.  Not easy, but doable, and I didn't hurt myself.
I love the way they look with vines growing on them, and the birds enjoy perching on them.  The hummingbirds seem to really enjoy them.  
Your tunnel is beautiful Pearl.
IMG_20210806_195928539.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210806_195928539.jpg]
IMG_20210806_200016632_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210806_200016632_HDR.jpg]
 
Tina Saravia
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Pearl,

Thanks for the clarifying answer. I think 5 feet apart is more room than I have. I could make it narrower and higher.

I will definitely post when (or if) I get to do it.

I need to figure out a way to get a 16’ panel from the store to our place.
I’m sure it won’t fit in my Prius. The cheapest delivery is $69.99 from Tractor Supply.



I saw videos of people loading them on top of their SUV’s using existing racks (that I don’t have) and 2x4’s. One guy used 2 - 8 ft ones and folded them them in half to fit inside his SUV. That maybe more appropriate for my current situation, if I could fit them in my car. ( I miss my old truck).

We shall see.



 
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Jane,

Beautiful pictures. I think I would use two t-post on each side of the panel, to be on the safe side. It’s  windy here most of the time and the passionfruit vine is very prolific.

I noticed that you used a lot of concrete blocks for your rounded beds.

Earlier today, I was looking at the concrete blocks around my herb bed (currently growing the Three Sisters), and realizing I should get more blocks to surround my blueberry keyhole garden (now growing citrus trees and Camellia sinensis) where the old reused fence panels are falling apart.

image.jpg
Herb bed
Herb bed
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Tina if you don't know anyone with a truck, or trailer, maybe check into renting a U-Haul. Seems to me the sign in front said 20.00 truck rental.  Probably some milage, or other catch, but it might be worth looking into.
For my older beds I used one block high, because I just used what I could scrounge up.  My new ones have two blocks high because my son gave me a pallet of concrete blocks for Christmas last year.  I would have never spent the money, but I love them.  It makes gardening so much easier.
 
Tina Saravia
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Jen,

Beautiful pictures. I think I would use two t-post on each side of the panel, to be on the safe side. It’s  windy here most of the time and the passionfruit vine is very prolific.

I noticed that you used a lot of concrete blocks for your rounded beds.

Earlier today, I was looking at the concrete blocks around my herb bed (currently growing the Three Sisters), and realizing I should get more blocks to surround my blueberry keyhole garden (now growing citrus trees and Camellia sinensis) where the old reused fence panels are falling apart.

 
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