Build your own Garden Obelisks – 3 variants presented

Garden Obelisks not only provide climbing plants with the necessary support, they also look good. You can read here which materials you can use to build such a Garden Obelisk yourself and how this works in detail.

Build your own Rankobelisks
© Tatjana Balzer –

Trellis and climbing plants have both a wild and graceful charm – but it disappears quickly if the plants do not have a climbing aid along which they can climb. A great possibility are the Garden Obelisk, which, thanks to their shape and dimensions, can be placed not only in beds, but also in plant pots.

How to build such a construction and what should be taken into account is revealed in this guide.

Garden Obelisk: Definition and advantages

Stone obelisks originally enjoyed great popularity in ancient Egypt. There they symbolize the rays of the sun god and banish the world of the gods to the world of mortals. But also in our regions one can discover numerous obelisks. Among the best-known are:

  • Obelisk in Washington DC
  • Memorial to the memory of the prisoners of the concentration camp Flossenbürg
  • The obelisk in Leipzig’s Schillerpark as a reminder of the opening of the railway line between Leipzig and Dresden
  • the Mussolini obelisk in Rome
  • the state monument in Wiesbaden
  • the Obelisk of Olu Oguibe on the Königsplatz in Kassl

Especially in the middle of nature obelisks are a great contrast. But they also score in the home garden with further advantages, as the following list shows:

Advantages and disadvantages

✔ The biggest advantage without question is the support that the climbing aid has to offer. But the construction also looks really great and gives the home garden a romantic flair.

✔ A Garden Obelisk made of iron is particularly insensitive and weather-resistant. But a model made of wood is also possible without any problems if time is allowed for the care of the material.

✔ If you like it more natural, you can also use branches to build a Garden Obelisk.

✔ The installation is possible in the bed as well as in a bucket. With the latter, however, care should be taken to ensure that the dimensions of the climbing aid match those of the plant pot.

✔ Normally, the Garden Obelisk does not have to be embedded in concrete or fixed in any other way. The legs are simply stuck firmly into the ground, so that the climbing aid is stable.

✔ In combination with a bucket on wheels, the Garden Obelisk can be placed outdoors or in living rooms – a real eye-catcher and ideal for overwintering sensitive plants.

✔ The effort to build a Garden Obelisk yourself is extremely low – the perfect project for new hobbyists.

✖ Before building a Garden Obelisk, it should be carefully considered which climbing or climbing plant should grow on it later. Some plants are very delicate, which may cause the construction itself to appear too bulky.

Building a Garden Obelisk – explained step by step

In the following we present three variants of a Rankobelisk and its construction:

1. iron obelisk
2. wooden obelisk with tendrils
3. obelisk from twigs

Variant 1: Garden Obelisk made of iron

A climbing aid made of iron is characterised above all by the fact that it is very robust and insensitive to weather conditions. In addition, depending on the choice of colour, iron looks very noble or romantic.

The following things are required:

  • 3 or 4 iron bars as corner supports
  • Iron bars as cross struts or wire
  • Welding unit and accessories or robust wire – depending on manual skills
  • optional: corrosion protection
step clues
Measurement of the required size As iron is less flexible in processing, it is essential that the required dimensions are taken. This way, the material can be bought to fit exactly and a lot of work can be saved.
Setting up the struts Now the longitudinal struts or corner supports can be set up. These are welded together at the upper end or joined with wire.
Mounting the cross struts As soon as the basic structure is in place, cross braces should be fitted. These not only provide the obelisk with support, but also offer the climbing plants additional opportunities for development. It makes sense to mount this crossover on the corner supports. Alternatively, wire can also be threaded around the frame from corner supports. This means that wire lines can run at a distance of a few centimetres to facilitate growth.
optional: If the rust does not bother, the obelisk can now be set up. Alternatively, the construction can also be hot-dip galvanised beforehand or treated with an appropriate corrosion protection. These are usually available in different colours, which also makes a colourful Rankobelisk possible. If, on the other hand, you give nature free rein, you will soon be able to enjoy a climbing aid in an enchanting rusty reddish brown – ideal for near-natural gardens.

Warning: No matter what you decide about yourself: This should be thought about beforehand, because once the obelisk is up and planted, it can only be post-treated at great expense!

When the obelisk is finished, it can be positioned in the bed. If plants are already growing, the tendrils can be placed around the iron rods – so they will continue to grow almost by themselves in the future.

“Tip: There are great attachments for iron bars with which the obelisk looks even better.

Variant 2: Garden Obelisk made of wood

Rank obelisks made of wood look much more natural. However, the wooden struts should not be too thin so that the construction can carry the weight without any problems. Therefore the decision for a Rankobelisk made of wood should rather be made for large climbing plants – so the overall appearance is extremely harmonious.

The following things are required:

  • 4 long wooden climbing rails as corner supports – according to the planned height of the climbing aid
  • short crossbars – the number also varies according to the height; the length becomes shorter upwards
  • 8 short pieces of wood as so-called spacers
  • 1 small piece of wood as upper cover
  • optional: a wooden ball for the lace as decoration
  • 4 tent pegs for the corner supports
  • wooden dowels
  • wood screws
  • nails
  • Protection of wood (Attention: waterproof in any case)
step clues
Measurement of the required size Also in this case it is absolutely necessary to determine dimensions beforehand. Although wood can be shortened more easily, lengthening is only possible with additional effort.
Connecting the corner supports After the preparations have been made, two corner supports are first connected to each other on the upper side. In addition, a cross brace is mounted at a distance of approx. 30 millimetres (seen from the top).
Assembly of the remaining cross struts In both side parts now further wooden strips are mounted as cross struts. These can run parallel or be screwed on crosswise – the latter ensures greater stability.

Tip: However, this creates distances between corner supports and cross struts, which can be bridged with the spacers.

The two side parts are then connected to each other by further cross struts.

Designing the upper side of the obelisk Those who already like the climbing aid can skip this step. Otherwise we recommend a square piece of wood as cover. A sufficiently large wooden ball in matching colours ensures a harmonious overall picture.
Apply wood varnish Due to the dampness of the potting soil, rain and other weather conditions, the wood would quickly wear out. Therefore we recommend the application of a waterproof wood preservative. These are available in colourless, wood-coloured and colourful – so there are no limits to your imagination.
Attaching tent pegs To ensure that the obelisk is firmly anchored in the ground, long tent pegs should be fitted to the corner supports. So even wind cannot harm the climbing aid.

“Important: The wood varnish should absolutely be applied before planting – to apply the weather protection afterwards when plants are already growing on it is neither sensible nor so easy.

Variant 3: Obelisk from branches

Who prefers an ecological garden design will love this variant, because willow rods can be used for this. This makes the Rankobelisk look particularly natural.

That’s what’s needed:

  • soil-filled plant pot or bucket
  • Willow rods – bamboo sticks can also be used as an alternative
  • cardboard
  • Hedge trimmer for cutting willow rods to size
step clues
Prepare cardboard To ensure that it remains in shape from branches, a piece of cardboard should first be prepared. This should be larger than the bucket so that it can lie on top. Anyone who wants to use a bed later should nevertheless use a large bucket or bucket as a substructure – this simplifies the construction considerably.

Now holes are pierced in the carton in a circle, into which the willow rods are put later. It makes sense if the holes are along the outer edge of the bucket – so the climbing obelisk extends over the full width of the vessel.

Preparing willow rods Before the willow rods are pushed into the prepared holes, small twigs and leaves should be removed. The length of the rods must be adjusted so that they are all of the same length. Very thin willow rods should be kept and used for braiding.
Forming willow rods into a rank obelisk Once the rods are prepared, a robust willow rod can be inserted into each hole. At the upper end the rods are now connected with a rope. Natural but robust materials such as sisal are ideally suited for this purpose.
Weaving in further willow rods as struts After the basic scaffold is standing, the thin willow rods should now be braided between the longitudinal struts. This is done directly at the bottom of the carton, resulting in a kind of basketwork. If this edge is about three to five centimetres high, further thin rods can be threaded diagonally upwards from there. In this way, as it is made of natural materials not only gains support, but also looks even more filigree.
Remove cardboard As soon as the willow rods are firmly connected, the climbing aid can be removed from the tub or bucket. Now carefully pull the carton downwards. Tada: it’s done.



Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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