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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Build a Tuteur

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

This elegant Tutuer built from wood and copper piping adds visual drama to the garden and provides great support for vining plants.

blue tower

It's interesting what $100 can buy: a GPS device, a double-seater Radio Flyer wagon or a cordless string trimmer. When Lowe's challenged me to enhance my garden for $100, my mind started whirring.

I had planned to add a tuteur - a three-dimensional trellis - to my largest perennial bed this year. Over winter voles thoughtfully devoured perennials on the bed end where I'd envisioned the tuteur, so I had the perfect bare spot begging to be filled.

After I designed a tuteur I connected with my carpenter friend Jim Posey. He drafted a plan on the fly, building the tuteur from 8-foot lengths of 1x4 rot-resistant cedar cut to 4-foot lengths. You can adapt this design to any height. I opted for a shorter size because my bed is raised 2 feet off the ground.


To build the tuteur, cut cedar boards in half using a table saw with a 40-tooth-finish blade.

Sand or plane wood edges to a smooth finish.


Form the four tuteur legs by sandwiching two cedar pieces together with Gorilla glue. Use eight pieces of the cedar; the remaining wood will form crosspieces and interior uprights on the tuteur. Clamp pieces together while glue dries.


Cut the wooden table leg to 6 inches to create the top of the tuteur. (See photo below.)

Although we didn't, it's best to paint the wood at this point. Apply two coats of Valspar Ultra Premium exterior paint and you can skip a primer coat.

Cut one end of the glued cedar pieces to an 11-degree angle. Attach these pieces to the table leg with 1.25-inch wood screws.

nail gun

Using a compound miter saw set to an 11x45 angle, cut the crosspieces. Attach them to tuteur legs with Gorilla glue and brad nails. Insert the central 39.5-inch cedar uprights inside the structure, centering them between tuteur legs. Nail crosspieces to uprights.

blue tower

I chose copper pipe accents for the tuteur to match a copper obelisk at the rear of the bed.

copper on blue tower

Cut copper to size. Shine it up using medium coarse steel wool. I sprayed copper sections with a clear satin lacquer to preserve the metal sheen and prevent it from aging to green.

Drill holes in ends of copper sections. Use a vise to bend the outermost piece of copper gently and repeatedly, until you achieve an angle that allows the copper piece to rest snugly against the piece beneath. Attach copper pieces to tuteur legs using small drywall nails.

hammer blue tower

Two final touches complete the tuteur: a small, round wooden bun on top, and 5-inch aluminum gutter spikes to anchor the tuteur in soil.


My tuteur transforms a bare patch in a bed to a beauty spot, adding color and height.

When rabbit-munched heucheras finally leaf out, the finished tuteur will have a pretty burgundy skirt.

Lowe' Materials List:

  • 14-inch pine traditional wood table leg
  • 6 1x4 cedar boards 8 inches long
  • 8 ounces Gorilla glue
  • 1 quart Valspar exterior latex Blue Burst
  • 1.25-inch Phillips wood screws, 1 lb.
  • ½-inch copper pipe, 10 feet long
  • Artesian small round bun

How can you dress up your garden with $100?

See more Mid-Atlantic Gardening Articles.