How to build a simple garden obelisk for climbing vining plants

Both garden peas and sweet peas like to climb, and will wrap their tendrils around anything close to them. When it comes to garden peas, the typical gardener will build a frame with sturdy string stretched across it. The pea vine will joyfully climb and produce pods.

The garden obelisk, which looks like the frame of a tepee, is another option to use for your climbers and vines. The obelisk can look like a green tepee when covered with lightweight climbing vegetables or it can look like a towering floral display in any part of your landscapes when covered with flowering vines, like sweet pea, clematis or trumpet vine.

In the picture above, pea pods are seen dangling from a pea vine that climbed its way up the obelisk. Marigolds planted nearby help to deter cats and rabbits.


For a simple obelisk that will end up about 6 feet tall you need:  four bamboo canes, each 8 feet long, saw; hammer; sturdy string, like packing cord or a nylon-based cord; scissors and ladder. The night before, water the area deeply where the obelisk will stand to make inserting the poles easier. The objective is to build a pole structure that is square at the base with the poles meeting at the top, and string is wrapped around the structure to create support for vining plants.

  1. Cut one end of each pole at a 45-degree angle. This creates a pointed tip that will be easier to hammer into the ground.
  2. Hammer a single pole into the ground at a about a 65-degree, which is three-quarters of a right angle. Pound the pole in at least 1 foot (2 feet is better). The angle does not have to be exact. A greater angle will make the obelisk slightly taller and require the other three poles to be closer together; a lesser angle would make the obelisk slightly shorter with the poles further apart.
  3. Place a second pole about 16 inches from the first pole and hammer it in, also at a 65-degree angle toward the center of the planned obelisk.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for the other two poles. The distance apart does not have to be exact, but try to get the tops to cross at the same location. You should now have the framework of a simple obelisk.
  5. Wrap cord around the four poles where they meet at the top to secure them together.
  6. Create horizontal support using the cord. Secure the end of the cord to one pole about 2 inches above ground level. Stretch the cord to the next pole about 4 inches above ground level, wrap around the pole and move on to the next pole and about 6 inches above ground. Wrap around the third pole and proceed back to first and 8 inches above ground level. At the first pole where you started, you should now have another wrap at 10 inches above ground level. Continue to wrap the cord around the tepee structure until you reach the top, gradually increasing the level of the cord as the spiral gets higher.
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