For the past few years, I’ve (Vicki) strung lights in the tree above the sidewalk to my front door. The branches are now too tall to comfortable reach so I needed a new way to have lights over the sidewalk.
We decided to use PVC pipe to construct a structure on which to secure lights. We first used PVC pipe when we made a “tent” for grandson Tyler’s bunk bed. That’s where we learned it was pretty bendy in the smaller diameters so we thought it would be the perfect material to use.
It must be noted that our final design was our second try at a PVC arch. That’s the cool thing about designing a DIY project. Sometimes it works out in the original design, sometimes it's necessary to develop a plan B!
In designing the arch, it had to meet a couple of criteria: materials must be readily available and it must be collapsible for storage, so parts could not be permanently glued.
Using a miter saw (or hacksaw) make the following PVC cuts:
Create the top section of the arch (do this on the ground):
Use a mallet to hammer the rebar into place. The rebar should be 18” apart (to line up with the PVC pipes). We put our rebar about 18” from the edge of the sidewalk although this can vary. The further from the sidewalk the lower the arch. (Please note: the PVC arch top configuration you see in the above picture is our first try--this did not work, but the rebar placement is the same.)
Put the PVC pipe on each of the (6) rebar pieces. Attach the pipes on one side to the top of the arch and then the other other side.
If you are satisfied with the fit, clean the pipe with the mineral spirits and rags, let dry, then spray paint. You can take it apart and do this but we found it was easier to spray paint it in place. Be sure to protect the sidewalk and adjacent plants from overspray. (Please note: the picture where we are cleaning with mineral spirits is our first arch attempt.)
Attach netting lights using the zip ties. Cut off the zip tie tails with the wire cutter. Attach the App Lights in the same manner.
Now, you may be curious about our first plan. Originally we wanted a curved arch rather than an arch with the point we ended up with in Plan B. We originally connected the PVC pipe with the cross fittings only. We drilled a hole through the fitting and through the pipe and then put a 3” zip tie through the hole to keep everything in place. We did this so we could take it all apart at the end of the season.
Well, once we got it into place, the stress on the joints was too much causing our zip ties to snap in two and then entire thing fell apart. Oh well, on to plan B which, as it turned out, we really liked!
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Steph & Vicki
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