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The Western Carport Wall       aka The Dream Trellis

A large Cats Cradle for Passionfruit (Passion Cradle?)

Once again we didn't like the look of any conventional wall as this is going to be in the face of everyone who comes to Middle Path and we were keen it have a welcoming vibe which is not easy to achieve in the average wall, most of which are for keeping things out.

We wanted something in harmony with our vision which - like permaculture principles - meant being multi-purpose, organic, user-friendly and visually appealing. It also needed to be a suitable first impression for visitors to the temple.

By this stage it also needed to be inexpensive in materials and frugal in its demands on time and labour. This is invariably a sign that I needed to go and check what we have “lying around”.

The materials we started with

The things that immediately caught my attention were half a dozen galvanised turnbuckles. An assortment of galvanised eyebolts, chain and D-shackles seemed to be calling out as well.

Some time ago Trijntje made lovely dreamcatchers - they had always impressed me with the way the tension throughout the structure was constantly balanced no matter the shape of the outer perimeter.

So I decided to make a large dreamcatcher-style trellis to support a passionfruit vine or two in creating the western wall.

Here's what I used (I did have to buy a few more bits and pieces).

And here's how we did it..........

Trellis materials
Trellis materials

Trellis eyebolts in place
Trellis eyebolts in place

Trellis eyebolts in place

We had 2 lengths of eyebolts 200mm for the posts and 100mm for the beam.

These were inserted at regular intervals round the perimeter of the “wall space”.

A massive 400mm M16 eyebolt has been set in a concrete column in the center of garden - not in the center of the wall.

Peripheral eyebolts in post
Trellis eyebolts in post

There were 6 eyebolts in the beam, 2 in each of the posts and one central pivotal eyebolt making a total of 11 anchor point for the outside rim of the trellis.
PCentral eyebolt in concrete post
Trellis eyebolt in concrete post

 chain strung
chain strung - side view

Bottom edge

The posts and the beam made 3 sides of the space but we needed an edge at the bottom of the structure and I wanted it about a metre off the ground to avoid shading plants already in the garden.

The central column is not in line with the posts - we put it further away from the temple so that the trellis would get more direct sunlight.

I felt this edge needed to be very strong as it would be sustaining all the tension in the structure - as much as the posts and the beam combined.

Any type of rope or wire would eventually need tightening (if not replacing) whereas the chain would do the job perfectly and is perfect for use with a turnbuckle.

Here it is in place - its not obvious but there is a turnbuckle at the far end which gives such a gentle and finely tunable way of getting (and maintaining) the perfect tension in this critical part of the trellis.

Chain strung
Chain strung - front view

Chain fixing detail

Here is the secret to getting that chain just right - any other way would have taken so much longer and been so much more fraught with difficulties.

Or so it seemed to me - the pain and suffering that $12:65 turnbuckle saved me makes it one of the wisest investments of my construction career.

Chain fixing detail
Chain fixing detail

Tensioning detail
Tensioning detail

How we made the trellis

Here is the central details what we were aiming for - a classic case of a picture's worth a thousand words.

All the rope was interwoven in classic dreamcatcher fashion with the turnbuckles providing a durable and finely adjustable tensioning mechanism.

It looks easy in this picture but there were a couple of glitches along the way ... let me explain..........

Threading the rope: pass1

I had thought to economise on turnbuckle use by attaching each section of rope to the previous one - the burdens of a Scottish ancestry I guess.

It wasn't until I was nearly finished that I became aware of the futility of this economic measure as tensioning would just pull all the rope together into one tight lump.

Threading the rope pass1
Threading the rope pass1

Threading the rope pass2
Threading the rope pass2

Threading the rope: pass2

This time the rope is attached to the chain before being threaded through it's neighbour.

Once again I was impressed by the ease with which I could attach the vey slippery poly rope to the chain by threading it in and out of a few adjacent links.

You can see how the dreamcatcher structure is taking shape.

Threading the rope: pass2 - wrong again!!

Once all the rope was threaded and tied off it was time to add the turnbuckles and tension the structure.

At this stage I could have used 9 D-shackles to attach them to the loops of rope or I could undo the rope - just the red section - and thread the rope through the eye in one end of the turnbuckles.

After some thought (about 10 seconds) the Scot in me won out and I undid the red rope - again!

Threading the rope pass2 wrong again
Threading the rope pass2 wrong again

Threading the rope pass3 right at last
Threading the rope pass3 right at last

Threading the rope pass3 right at last

Practice makes perfect and so it came to pass that I got the rope threaded to all the various bits of hardware in a satisfactory manner.

You can see the turnbuckles have been threaded onto the rope this time but I still have the end of the rope around my neck - just in case.

Ready for tensioning

The threading is complete - no attempt has been made at measuring or evening things out at this stage.

The only tension is from the weight of the turnbuckles which are just hanging in space.

Ready for tensioning
Ready for tensioning



The turnbuckle hooks wouldn't fit through the chain links so I ended up having to use the D-shackles to attach them to the chain.

The last turnbuckle had a long way to stretch to make contact with it's shackle and I had to slacken off the rope a tad.

This was the last time I had to undo a rope fixture.

Notice how uneven the widths of the different coloured sections of rope are at this stage

Evening out the segments

Once the turnbuckles were connected I thought it was the time to even out the sections so that there was an element of visual uniformity in the trellis.

As it turned out I was wrong - even after it was fully tensioned - the newish rope was still slippery enough to slide easily over each other and the segments could be fairly easly adjusted.

Evening out the segments
Evening out the segments

The final tensioning complete
The final tensioning complete

The final tensioning complete

And there you have it - the final tensioning complete the sections roughly uniform and two young passionfruit vines reaching for their new home.

All in all this job had taken about 2½ hours and been remarkably low-stress despite the several times I had to revise a step.

Total cost for this wall was under $50 - we did have a lot of the material already but I was still impressed by the versatility and economy.

The final result - day 1

Just for the record here's what it looked like at the end of the day's work - January 19th, 2014.

The final result jan192014
The final result - January 19th, 2014

The final result jan222014
The final result 3 days later

3 days later

We had planted passionfruit because they are fast-growing and fruitful but this seemed a bit excessive for 3 days growth.

The final result Feb 11 2014
The final result 22 days later

22 days later

What can I say - 22 days later, Feb 11th!

The final result Mar 6 2014
The final result 45 days later

45 days later

What more can I say? - 45 days later, March 6th.


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