Rebar Fence Trellis

Rebar Fence Trellis 02

“Make a self-supporting post-less fence trellis out of rebar!”

In Spring 2011 I wanted to make a fence across the backyard for three reasons; to enclose a chicken run, to grow fruit vines, and to support a future pvc arbour I had planned. Traditional fencing options were expensive, but I found a way to do it using only rebar steel mesh. The result exceeded my hopes.

Benefits:

  • Creates Vertical Space
  • Encloses Chickens
  • Supports Vines
  • Lasts 10 Years

Materials:

  • Rebar (reinforcement bar) mesh sheets
  • Wire (baling/mechanics wire is perfect)

Jump to:

Planning
Sourcing Rebar Mesh
Designing
Prototype Fence
Constructing
FAQ
What about rust?
What about the rebar heating up in the Sun?
What else can I use to make a self-supporting fence?
Related Articles
Bamboo Trellises
Rebar Trellises
Rebar Potato Towers
PVC Arbours
Cardboard Trench Beds

Planning

My rebar fence trellis, a self-supporting, post-less fence with climbing beans planted along the bottom

My rebar fence trellis, a self-supporting, post-less fence with climbing beans planted along the bottom

In suburbia, space is precious. Growing vines on fences and trellises is a great way to use space (vertical space). I planned to combine the two, by making a large fence-trellis which could support vines and partition the yard to make a chicken run. I had already been exploring the idea of using rebar between fence posts to make the fence, but it occurred to me that rebar alone could form a self-supporting fence.

Sourcing Rebar Mesh

Rebar mesh is used in concrete. It's cheap and comes in large sheets

Rebar mesh is used in concrete. It's cheap and comes in large sheets

Reinforcement bar (rebar) is a mild steel used to reinforce concrete. It’s nothing fancy; it can be bent and cut easily, and rusts too. It’s hard to find rebar mesh in small amounts – usually tradesmen buy large sheets from building suppliers, and cut them to size on site. I was lucky enough to catch some excess mesh that was about to be thrown away.

  • Check your local salvage yards. Rebar is a common scrap material.
  • If you can’t get it second hand, check with a local concrete pourer tradesman, and ask him if he can order you an extra sheet or two when he next stocks up. You might get them for close to trade price.

Designing

The rebar mesh sheets were about 5m long and 2.4m wide. Since I only wanted a fence 2m high, I could bury the edges of two sheets 40cm deep, alongside each other about 50cm apart, and secure the opposite edges of both sheets together to form an ‘A’ shape.

Theoretically the fence would be self supporting, or so I thought…

Prototype Fence

I wasn't sure if my idea would work, so I made a small section first. It later became part of the fence

I wasn't sure if my idea would work, so I made a small section first. It later became part of the fence

I wasn’t sure if my idea was going to work, so I made a prototype that would, if successful, become part of the finished fence. I cut two pieces of mesh to equal size, laid one atop the other and tied one of their matching long ends together. I stood the prototype up and spread its feet apart. I wedged a couple of wood offcuts to jar the sheets apart at centreheight, and stood away.

It stood as I had hoped, self-supporting, but it could wobble quite easily. I tied two strings diagonally between the sheets and the prototype became rigid. I dug a hole ~40cm deep and stood the prototype in it’s final place, to become part of the rebar fence trellis.

Constructing

The sheets were bound together using baling wire

The sheets were bound together using baling wire

The two sheets were flexed into the trenches, then the trenches were backfilled

The two sheets were flexed into the trenches, then the trenches were backfilled

  • Just as with the prototype, but working with sheets 4m long, I cut the sheets to match and laid one atop the other. I used baling wire to tie the sheets together.
  • I got a good friend to help me dig two narrow 40cm deep trenches, one for each of the sheets to stand in. After a few adjustments we erected the fence.
  • I cut some lengths of threaded metal rod, and affixed some washer plates I had with corresponding nuts, to jar the sheets apart at intervals along the fence’s length.
  • As with the prototype initially, the fence could wobble, so I used scrap electric wire to secure the sheets diagonally and lock the whole fence rigid.
Metal rods force the rebar sheets apart, and electric wires (diagonal ties) prevent wobbling. The fence is now rigid

Metal rods force the rebar sheets apart, and electric wires (diagonal ties) prevent wobbling. The fence is now rigid

I secured an extra sheet to the outside, diagonally offsetting the mesh pattern, to prevent future chickens getting through.

The fence stood (and still stands) remarkably rigid. I could climb it and sit atop it (carefully) without it wobbling or bending. I was more than happy!

I went on to create a cardboard trench bed along the fenceline, and planted climbing beans and passionfruit plants to grow and train up the rebar fence trellis.

Climbing beans ascend the rebar fence trellis easily.

Climbing beans ascend the rebar fence trellis easily.

I went on in Summer to create a sliding gate to finish the fence.

The sliding gate was a separate project which finished the chicken run. It was made from jarrah and rebar

The sliding gate was a separate project which finished the chicken run. It was made from jarrah and rebar

Frequently Asked Questions

What about rust?

Rebar will rust, especially in exposed conditions, and a rebar fence or rebar trellis should be considered a temporary structure. However, the surface rust significantly insulates the rest of the metal, and if it is also insulated by lots of plants growing on it, I’m told it can last about 10 years. I figured I’ll probably enjoy the opportunity to change my backyard again in 10 years, or I could replace it and improve the design somehow.

I also am experimenting with using raw linseed oil to coat the rebar, as linseed oil forms an insulating, waterproof coating over things. It could prolong the life of any outdoor rebar structures.

What about the rebar heating up in the Sun?

As I write this, the temperature is 35degC and my rebar fence trellis is in full sun. It is warm, not hot, and the plants growing on it are not suffering.

If you’re growing something over rebar, the plants will shade the metal and it won’t heat up at all.

What else can I use to make a self-supporting fence?

I imagine any kind of sheet metal could be arranged in a similar fashion to make a self-supporting fence. Consider how the sun might heat it in Summer, and how you can grow plants over it.

Single-use pallets can be arranged similarly, to form a 1m high temporary fence. Plants won’t have a problem growing over it, and if you choose the right breed of chicken, the fence can be high enough to enclose a chicken run. Consider termites, as single-use pallets are a soft and tasty treat for them.

Related Articles

Bamboo Trellises

Rebar Trellises

Rebar Potato Towers

PVC Arbours

Cardboard Trench Beds

“Got sandy soils? Need an effective garden bed? Improve your soil and save water by making a cardboard trench bed!”

One comment on “Rebar Fence Trellis

  1. Nicely done. I like how you make it a point to link the keywords to the relevant articles. The ‘jump to’ is useful too. How about adding the recent pictures of your rebar fence to flaunt the lushing greens on it?

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