Building a teepee trellis is easy and fun – and you can do it with all natural materials as well!
Teepee trellises are something you can buy – but why, when you can build one from sticks and string all on your own. Not only are they great as a trellis for peas and beans, but they can be fun places to hide for children (and adults too).
The Trellis of Many Names
Whether you call this a teepee, tee-pee, tepee or even a tipi, the idea is to make a cone shaped structure that peas, beans or other vines can hold on to, giving you access to both sides of the plant.
Selecting The Poles
To select a pole, find 8 saplings that are approximately 1 inch in diameter. They do not have to be all exactly the same diameter, but the closer they are, the better.
These will be the structure of the teepee, so be sure to pick good straight saplings that are in good condition – no rot or damage to the trunk itself.
Trimming To Height
The only matter of the height is how high you can reach to harvest. Or, if that is not a concern for you, then the length of your shortest pole will end up being your maximum height.
If you want to have a large floor area inside your teepee be sure to cut the poles very tall so you can spread them out and not end up with a short stubby teepee!
Using the same loppers or saw cut the poles to the same length. Remember that when you spread the poles out into the form of a teepee the overall height will lower. If you can reach up 7 feet tall then using 7 foot long poles will easily put everything into your reach.
Tie The Poles Together
Be sure to tie together the narrow ends of the poles – the parts that were the “top” of the tree you chose. Come down about 6 inches from the end and tie the bundle together.
First go around all of the poles about 3 times. This will help hold the poles together and give the structure something to lean against.
Then weave the twine between the poles, perpendicular to the wrappings of twine you already made. You want to go over and around the twine you already put on and separate the poles in half. This wrap helps to keep the first wrap of twine from slipping up and down the poles.
Arranging the Teepee
Take your poles to the location you want your teepee and begin to spread the poles out into a circle. You will have to go just a little at a time, spreading them just a few inches apart at a time.
Be sure to leave a door in your teepee. This not just for fun to play in later, but an access point for you to harvest your peas or beans from.
It is true that by using natural wood the tendrils of the peas or beans can grasp the poles and simply grow up them. However, the more space we give them, the better.
To do this, take your twine and start at on of the poles next to the opening, about 1-2 inches from the ground and wrap the twine around each pole as you go. Be sure to keep the twine level.
This first level is very important to be sure that your small plants can easily find something to hold on to.
When you make it back to the pole on the other side of the door just spiral the twine around the pole upwards a few inches and then work your way back around the entire teepee.
Repeat the process for as high as you can reach!
Plant peas or beans approximately 2-4 inches apart around the entire teepee, directly below the bottom horizontal twine.
You can see this whole process by watching our How to Build a Teepee Trellis video below: