Constructing a Garden Tuteur

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Posted by @Bubbles on
Garden tuteurs, or obelisks, give your garden upright forms to train vines and other climbing plants. They also add interest to an area by lifting the eye upward. Tuteurs can be as plain, or as ornate, as you wish them to be. As simple as a few bamboo canes lashed together, or as elaborate as a tall metal structure fused into a rather fussy design, these pyramid shaped frames have been part of gardens for hundreds of years.

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Tuteur is French for guardian or tutor. In gardening, it implies horticultural training. There are many forms of tuteurs and this is only one of them. To get started making your own, you will need the following materials:

. 4 - 2"x 2"x8' pressure treated lumber

. 12 2 1/2" deck screws

. 8 small screw eyes

. Approx. 10' of #18 or #19 galvanized wire

. 1 fence post finial, if desired, to finish the top

For a good-sized tuteur, cut the 2x2s to 5' 6" lengths for the legs and save the scraps for the cross braces.

1. Cut an angle at the top of each leg as shown.
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2. Stand the legs up with the two cuts together and mark the face of each leg. This indicates where the second angle cut will be made.
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Lay the two legs face down with the marked faces toward you.
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3. Mark the legs as shown and cut to get the second angle.
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4. Screw the two legs together at the top. Mark each leg 10" from the bottom. Lay one of the scrap pieces across the legs at the marks and spread the legs so they are about 16" to 17" apart at the 10" mark. Mark and cut the cross piece as shown. This will give you the angle necessary for the cross braces to fit.
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5. Using the brace with the angles you've just cut as a template, mark and cut the remaining three pieces. Use two deck screws to attach the brace.
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6. Make a second set of legs following steps 1 through 3 and add the bottom brace. Stand the two sides upright and attach at the top with deck screws. Add the remaining two bottom braces. If you are planning to paint the tuteur, do it before you attach the two sets of legs together. (You will thank me for this hint.)
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7. Use small screw eyes to attach the galvanized wire about 12" above the brace. You may add as many levels of wire as you desire. This is not for stability, but helps to train vines to climb.
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8. If you decide to paint your tuteur, Lowe's has small sample jars of any color you may choose for about $3.00 each. One jar will be enough for two coats. They also have some seasonal colors available for free with a coupon. Otherwise, you could be stuck with nearly a full $10 quart of bubble gum pink paint you will never use again.
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Our tuteurs have been out in the garden for a couple of years now. They haven't needed re-painting. I only have to shift them a bit in spring to level them. The weight of the wood keeps them in place through the strongest of wind storms. Using pressure treated lumber prevents them from rotting. If you need to store them during the winter, simply remove the last two braces you installed and remove the screws holding the side pieces together at the top. This should make it easy to store the two pieces flat until spring.

This is our latest one that is only four feet tall.
Thumb of 2013-10-05/Bubbles/fd8a01

You can see that the process is not difficult, and it is a lot of fun!

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Finally! by greene Nov 30, 2015 4:54 PM 16
Garden Tuteurs. by scott1 Nov 29, 2015 11:38 AM 1
Nice job, Sandi by SongofJoy Dec 6, 2013 9:41 AM 3

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