Build a simple obelisk to get more produce out of a small space.
Photo by Tracy Walsh
Traditionally found in formal gardens, obelisks are fancy plant supports that have four sides and a pyramid-shaped top. In ancient times, obelisks were impressive structures made of stone. These days, they’re usually made out of wood or metal.
Obelisks are visually interesting, and I’m a bit obsessed with them. They’re elegant features that add lots of interest and artistic appeal, as well as structure, to a garden. Obelisks can be found in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and they look just as nice without anything growing on them as they do covered with vining crops.
This version of the classic obelisk is 6 feet tall and extremely sturdy. Set it on a level spot, or sink it a few inches into the ground to ensure that it’s stable, and then use it to grow vining crops, such as cucamelons, cucumbers, small gourds, or mini-melons.
Illustration by Tracy Walsh
Tools, Materials, and Cut List
- Miter saw
- Eye and ear protection
- Work gloves
- Tape measure
- 2x2s, 8 feet long (4)
- 1x2s, 8 feet long (5)
- #8x1-1/4-inch screws (44)
- #8x2-inch screws (4)
- Wood post cap (1)
|Bottom horizontal bands (outside)*||22-1/2 inches||2||1x2|
|Bottom horizontal bands (inside)*||21 inches||2||1x2|
|Second horizontal bands (outside)*||17 inches||2||1x2|
|Second horizontal bands (inside)*||15-1/2 inches||2||1x2|
|Third horizontal bands (outside)*||12 inches||2||1x2|
|Third horizontal bands (inside)*||10-1/2 inches||2||1x2|
|Fourth horizontal bands (outside)*||7 inches||2||1x2|
|Fourth horizontal bands (inside)*||5-1/4 inches||2||1x2|
|Center decorative pieces*||4 feet||4||1x2|
Note: Make angle on bands 11-1/2 degrees, and angle on decorative pieces 45 degrees on top. *All measurements are prior to the angle; they’re the longest point of the wood piece.
2. Lay two of the 2×2 leg pieces down on a flat surface. Angle them so the tops of the two leg pieces are spaced 1 inch apart and the bottoms are spaced 21-1/2 inches apart. Position one of the 21-inch bands 11 inches up from the bottom of the legs, and lay it across the 2×2s. Ensure that the band is straight and that the angled ends of the band are flush with the outsides of each of the legs. Predrill pilot holes through each end of the band into the legs. Drive a 1-1/4-inch screw into each of the pilot holes to secure the band to both of the legs. Position one of the 15-1/2-inch bands 16-1/2 inches up from the top of the first band, and repeat the steps to secure the band to the legs. Repeat again to secure one of the 10-1/2-inch bands and then one of the 5-1/4-inch bands to the legs, each spaced 16-1/2 inches apart. Repeat Step 2 to assemble the opposite side of the obelisk (see the illustration above).
Measure and cut the wood with a miter saw, then cut all angles. Attach the inside bands to the leg pieces to create two sides. Join the two finished sides together, and then attach the outside bands to one of the newly formed sides.
Photos by Tracy Walsh
4. Working from the top of the obelisk to the bottom, follow the instructions in Step 3 to attach the remaining three outside bands to the obelisk, starting with the 7-inch band at the top, then the 12-inch band, and finally the 17-inch band. Carefully flip the obelisk over and repeat Steps 3 and 4 to secure the fourth side.
Starting at the top and working your way down, attach the remaining outside bands. Add the cap to the top of the obelisk, and secure it with screws. Predrill pilot holes, and then attach the vertical decorative pieces to each side of the structure.
Photos by Tracy Walsh
Amy Andrychowicz is an author and DIY enthusiast, as well as the creator of Get Busy Gardening, a website dedicated to beginner gardeners. This project is from her book Vertical Gardening: Simple Projects that Deliver More Yield in Less Space (Cool Springs Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group).