The "Tuscan Veranda
Project" is the label that I put on all of the outside welding and
masonry projects. The "Grape" phase isn't the first but it is the first
one that I actually completed so here it is.
Although I like the idea of having a vineyard and growing my own
grapes, those who know anything about how well wine grapes fare in the
desert know that it won't work. The only grapes that do grow well
aren't the ones you couldn't use to make wine. It was this thought that
led me to design a place close to the house where I could plant grapes.
In 2009, I built some masonry paving brick borders around the back
patio and planted a couple of Thompson Seedless grape plants. Next to
each plant, I sank a 4x4 post to accommodate a trellis for the grape
plants to climb.
In May 2010, I fabricated two box trellises.
I installed the trellises, which turned
out great because the grapes started climbing them right away.
I turned to other projects, thinking that it would give me time before
I completed the roof trellis. I didn't realize how fast grapes grew
because only 12 months later, the grapes were peeking over the top of
the trellis, searching for something else to climb.
My inspiration for the final phase was a hyperbolic paraboloid that my
father built over our old patio when we lived in California. First, I
fabricated the girders that would span the 4x4 posts. Because of the
long stretches between the posts, I had to build girders that wouldn't
flex under the weight of the trellis material and whatever grew over it.
In order to avoid welding the whole thing together, I fabricated each
length individually and built hinges to connect them. When it is
installed, the hinge pin is actually a half-inch lag bolt that screws
the joint to the top of the 4x4 post.
After connecting all the pieces, I cut up some trellis material to fit
the space that the girder segments form. This will be the "roof" that
the grapes will climb.
Finally, the entire contraption is installed. The design should support
100 pounds of vegetation without flexing.