Cheaper option for conduit trellis elbows

luke3026April 9, 2009

I was working on building my trellises this week. I initially planned on using 2x2 frames bolted to cleats I screwed into the boxes when I built them. But when I got the first one up, I wasn't really impressed with the sturdiness or appearance. So I went back to Lowes and remembered something I read on someone's blog a while back (I forgot where and couldn't find it again in a Google search). They suggested using 50 cent PVC elbows, threaded on both sides, on the ends of the conduit.

So I got some 1/2" conduit, a couple elbows and some rebar and tried it out. Works pretty well. Once hammered on, I guess the threads compress and locks it on. I couldn't pull it off no matter what. Time will tell if it will hold all season, but for the price I'm willing to give it a shot.

Just a thought for everyone else with sticker shock looking at the prices of conduit elbows. :^)

Here is a link that might be useful: Luke's SF Victory Garden

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ribbit32004

I used plumbing pipe. No. it wasn't cheap, but my two children can hang like monkeys from it. I wanted to do electrical conduit, but couldn't find the parts I needed and I would have to put a center joist in there which would make the cost about the same.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 8:06PM
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rlkennerly(8)

Yeah, they don't give those elbows away, Luke. We bought ours today, and I was really stunned at how expensive they were, especially compared to the price of conduit. I'd thought about using PVC too, but I was worried about the PVC getting brittle after exposure to the elements.

Here is a link that might be useful: LookMaNoWeeds

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 1:08AM
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luke3026

Yeah, the PVC will probably get brittle after a while, but at least it gets my trellises up and running. I'm unemployed at the moment, so doing things on the cheap is the name of the game. I can always replace them with the "real" elbows as these ones fail. At 50 cents each, it's not a big loss if these only last a year or less. I can even replace one by one midseason with some help (i.e. someone holds up the crossbar as I stick on the elbow).

Here is a link that might be useful: Luke's SF Victory Garden

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 7:28AM
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anniesgranny(6b)

I have a PVC line running through my oleander hedge down in AZ. It sits on top of the soil (the hedge was there long before the irrigation was put in), and is exposed to the hot Arizona sun all summer. In five years it hasn't got brittle, nor has its elbows. Of course, there isn't any weight on it as there would be on a trellis.

Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 1:06PM
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peel(z6 CT)

Yankee Ingenuity! It's a great modification to save some money. Everything looks great!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gumshoe Gardener

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 7:48PM
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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

I quit buying electric conduit after a few of them collapsed under the weight of bitter melon or tomato plants. I still have a few survivors left that have only ever had cucumbers, beans, or peas. Now I do the plumbing pipe like ribbit said for the heavy plants.

For light plants this year I am going to try an ultra-inexpensive technique someone else suggested last year. Two eight or ten foot t-posts and lengths of two-ply sisal twine. Set the t-posts in the ground and use the sisal twine to form the top, then run support strings as usual.

I suppose the ends may need to be braced somehow--I haven't acquired the t-posts yet so I don't know. I think the ten-footers set four feet into the ground should be pretty stable.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:20AM
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jeremyjs

PVC pipe should never get brittle from exposure to uv or moisture if it's actually PVC. Some solvents and oils aren't too good for it, but nothing like that should be anywhere near your garden. Heck from what I've read they say it's one of the few things man made that will never naturally decompose. Some scientists say our nuclear waste will be harmless well before the stuff naturally breaks down chemically. Oh if it's cold and you put a load on it it may break, but that's about it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:39AM
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luke3026

ralleia, I'm curious as to what part of your conduit trellises failed under the weight of the plants. Did the conduits themselves actually buckle? Or was it the joints/elbows?

Here is a link that might be useful: Luke's SF Victory Garden

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 12:58PM
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matrixman

I took the 5 ft conduit and bent the ends 90 degrees with a pipe bender. Not hard..honest.

The bend gives the top extra rigidity and the couplers are 4 bucks for a 5 pack. I did 16 trellises so cost was a factor. I have half in one row and half in another. Zip ties tie them together for extra support (think kitchen cabinets).

It been a cost effective solution.

So conduit couplers rather than elbows...hope that helps!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 1:47PM
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jganyard

I used the conduit 90's, but for the center supports (my trelli are 10' long) I used 1/2" pvc T's that just slipped right over the EMT and then the threaded part of the T fits tightly onto the EMT post in the middle. The EMT T's we're about $8 each, I figured .43 each for PVC T's was a much better deal.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 6:27PM
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paully1(6A)

I am just getting started on SFG, but I agree with MatrixMan. A conduit bender cost me $21 at Home Depot and the straight set-screw connectors were $4 for five of them, vs. about $7 EACH for the corner-pull connectors. Bending the top bar was way easier than I thought, and looks better too, IMO. Don't fear the bender.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 8:57PM
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luke3026

Whoa, MatrixMan, you blew my mind with that idea! I think I'll try that method next time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Luke's SF Victory Garden

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 7:06AM
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