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DIY Basic Hop Trellis For Under $100

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Spring has finally sprung here in the great white North, and the first day where the temperature broke 60 gave me good reason to focus on installing my new (albeit small) hop trellis for growing this season's crop.
If you're anything like me, your wife and property size/shape have a lot to do with where you plant hops. We're fortunate to live in the perfect latitude for hops, right around 43 degrees north, in West Michigan, but my house's southern exposure (ideal for lots of sun that hops like) is the front lawn. Bearing in mind that my wife would rather have a third eye in her forehead than have an enormous hop trellis in her front yard, I decided that the southwest side of the house would have to suffice. I decided my trellis would be along the property line to maximize sun exposure.

Assemble The Trellis
First, I decided that I didn't want hops growing up my siding or anywhere near the house, so it would have to be a standalone structure. If you're fine with vines growing up and into the cracks and crevices of your house, you're welcome to it, but another reason to move away from the house is that if you're not planting right on the southern face, you're losing half of the daylight for your rhizomes.
The area my trellis was to go in is 18 feet long on the side of the house, so I decided to make the trellis supports 16 feet apart with a foot of space on either side. I also knew I wanted to plant 4 rhizomes, and had to make do with a 5 foot wide span. I'll save you the trouble of commenting -- I know they're supposed to be spaced farther apart than this. We all have space and resource limitations from time to time -- the wife made it clear that 5 feet was going to be the biggest she would tolerate. I accepted this and moved on. I also knew I wanted the trellis to give the plants plenty of vertical growing space, so I planned to make them about 10 feet tall.

Dig The Post Holes
Next was material round-up:
(2) 4"x4"x12' treated posts for the main trellis supports
(1) 2"x4"x10' treated lumber (to be cut in half) for each of the end supports
(8) stainless or galvanized J-hooks to support the growing wire but allow for easy harvesting in the fall
110' of medium-duty stranded wire for the bines to grow up and across
(4) U-channel landscaping/snow fencing spikes to secure the wire to and serve as a removable land anchor (plus they're cheap)
We started the process by measuring where we wanted our holes, and used a post hole digger to dig as far down as possible. In my EXTREMELY clay-heavy soil, we got to about 2'9", which my shoulders told me was more than enough on both posts. That means I had just over 9 feet of trellis height, which my wife told me was also more than enough. Her glare confirmed this.

Set And Level The Posts
The first step after digging the holes was to cut the 10 foot 2x4 in half, and screw it to the 4x4's face with 3-inch deck screws that won't rust and break in the harsh Michigan weather.
Once the 2x4 is attached to the interior face of the post, measure your spacing for your wire supports. For mine, because I had 60 inches and wanted to maintain aesthetically pleasing spacing, I did one support hook 2 inches in from each side, then the second for the second vine of each variety (I did Cascade and Centennial, BTW) 18 inches in from that, which 20 inches in between the interior lines. Be sure to pre-drill holes slightly smaller than the diameter of your hook screw, or it'll take you forever to screw them in.
Channel locks or locking pliers work well to spin these in. IT IS CRITICAL that your hook end up facing upwards -- if not, the wire will just slip out and your vines will fall to the ground. We did it this way so in the fall, all I have to do is loosen my wire, climb a ladder to the top of one support, and lift the slack in the wire over the top point of the hook and everything will drop for harvesting.

Trellis Ready For Wires
Once your hooks are in, take your posts and stand them up in your holes. You'll probably want help with this. We chose not to concrete ours in place because we have naturally clay-thick soil, so we just packed the clay down around the posts. If you live in a place with actual dirt on the ground, you might consider a Quickrete or something like that for added support.
Then take your wire, wrap a heavy loop in one end, and slide it around one of the hooks. Run the wire to the other support, and simply wrap the wire over the hook and down to the ground.
We used U-channel landscaping posts for solid anchoring, but they also have small holes that we then ran the wire through to keep everything taut.
That's all there was to it -- we dug holes at the base of each wire and added Miracle Grow garden soil because our dirt is so bad, but put the rhizomes in as directed and hope they take off from there.

Project Complete And Ready For Hops
This whole thing took about two hours to install, and most of that was spent whining about my grossly under worked deltoids trying to run a post hole digger into three feet of modeling clay.
This is a simple setup, and only cost about $60 for all the parts and pieces.
Good luck with your own hops this year!
 

Comments

I'd like to see where the wire wraps around the hooks on the other post and down to the ground. Is it made so that the hops will grow up the wire, and continue across the wire to the post where they are hooked with the loop?
 
@mrgrimm101 I submitted this image with the story, but it apparently got missed in the shuffle. You should be able to view the image through this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_oh_AEqpAx9T3ZhQkt4OW9QZDQ/view?usp=sharing
THe idea is the hops will grow up the wire, then sideways with a bit of training of the bines toward the other side where the loop is. We'll see how it works out!
 
Are you worried about the weight pulling your posts down? 2' doesn't seem like very far into the ground to hold them up. I've been told to add guy wires to a design like this..
 
@mrgrimm101 Not even a little bit. As I mentioned, we have terrible soil that's full of clay. We got 2'9" down, so almost a full yard. There's really not a lot of weight up there as is, and with the clay packed around the post tightly I could climb up there to the top and jump up and down on it without it going anywhere. 4x4s are very strong, more than enough to hold even the heaviest of hop vines. If anything is going to break, it will be the wires, which are rated at 100 lbs of capacity, and if I'm getting 100 lbs of hops/vines, I'm tearing down my house and starting a hop farm! Glad you like the design.
 
The problem with not putting the posts deeper in the ground is that you are likely not below the frost line. If you don't go below the frost line (3.3ft here in Windsor, Ontario), the freezing and thawing of the groundwater in the soil can literally push the posts out of the ground.
I do like the design, however, and will probably replicate it in my own yard!
 
@Wemet Yeah, our frost depth here is 42", which wasn't going to happen for me. I figure even if the frost pushes it out, next spring I'll drop the wire, dig out the hole, re-install the posts and go from there. I'm not terribly worried like I would be if I were doing a deck or something structural rather than just a hobby trellis for a plant. Thanks for the comment! Not many people know about frost lines!
 
Well done! This being the interweb though, I feel the need to critique.
1) I'd have recommended placing the 2x4 on the outside of the post. The way you have it now the tension is acting on the screws. On the outside, it the tension would be pulling it tighter into the post.
2) "and if I'm getting 100 lbs of hops/vines, I'm tearing down my house and starting a hop farm!"
If you have multiple plants, the wet hops & wet bines could easily weigh over 100#. More importantly, the large mass can easily act as a sail. A strong wind could easily create several hundred pounds of force during a storm.
3) However, should it be an issue this can all be taken care of with a guy-wire on each end.
 
Hey Nate. When do you plant your rhizomes? I live in central Michigan so pretty close to you. But I'm out of state every year until begining of May.
 
@nagmay The guy-wires was my concern as well. Without them, the whole thing seems like it could come down due to the weight or excessive winds.
Would you suggest just 1 on each post, or 2 on each post, spread apart?
 
I know a great trick for screwing in those hooks using a screw gun. Take one hook and put it in the screw gun/drill chuck thread first. The just hook that to the pre started hook and spin away!
https://youtu.be/hVmrrooyIUw
 
Looks great! I did something similar on a smaller scale and just want to share 2 bits from my experienc. I'm not sure what kind of wire you used? I used cheap baling wire which was easy to work with, however it formed rust which in turn "burned" my hops vines where they contacted the wire. So, just make sure to use a coated wire, or one that won't rust.
Secondly, my hop plant was planted in a raised bed and just exploded, with roots shooting everywhere, and hop bines popping up all over the place, even growing under the raised bed and sprouting outside of it. Maybe it's just this plant (a fuggle) but you might want to think about containing the plants somehow so that they don't grow up everywhere. I dug up all of the roots and put the main plant in a buried a 5 gal bucket with holes drilled in the bottom, because I didn't want it taking over the entire raised bed area... we'll see if it works.
 
@norrisk... I let the bines grow about 8-12" then I wrap them around the wire/structure. Then I keep repeating this process. Seems to work ok, but I agree they don't like growing horizontal.
 
@mrgrimm101,
"Would you suggest just 1 on each post, or 2 on each post, spread apart?"
The easiest would be a wire from the ground, up around the 4x4 and back down to the ground (so, 2 wires next to each other). You can then use a "twitch stick" to tension it.
Having the wires spread apart would be nice, but harder to tension.
 
@Beek I usually plant after I'm relatively certain that we're done with late spring snow/frosts, so I just planted them this weekend.
 
@nagmay The 2x4 on the outside is a good idea. I wasn't worried about it too much, as using 5 3" deck screws is good for almost a ton of holding force. As far as the weight, the wires are rated for 100# each, so a total of 400# for the whole setup, but I had not thought about the wind. My thought was that if 20 feet of vine and hops weighed 4 lbs per foot, I'd have plenty of strength. I hope it's not an issue! I'll do guy wires if need be.
 
I did mine a few weeks ago, very similar, I however used some scrap 2x4 discounted from the hardware store, I made my own concrete using the 3-2-1 ratio(sand and gravel on hand) and I just used twine for the lateral support, I have a gut feeling I will have to replace the lateral with a cable, but its working and im into it about 10.00 plus my time. My chinook has taken off this year due to the mild winter, let me know if you'd like to see pics. or feel free to FB me Dirk Smithson
 
So if trying to get the vines to grow along the horizontal wires is a problem could I make the height of each end different to encourage the hops to try growing along the upward slant of the wires? Perhaps 6 feet at one end and 8-10 feet at the other end with the hooks. How does this sound?
 
Just came back to this story, msa8967, but mine is installed on a slope already that naturally runs down from the front to the back of the house. Last year I had good luck with it growing up the slope, and am hoping for a bigger harvest this year now that the bines are established.
 
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