I just love growing vegetables “up,” and each year I’m still looking for new trellis options. Not only does it make room for more crops (which is a huge plus if you have a small garden space or just a couple of raised beds), but they are just so pretty, too!
Thankfully my husband is pretty handy, and he built a few trellises for me. But even if you have no experience or know-how to build anything (because I certainly don’t!) you can make do many of these trellis ideas yourself.
So, which crops are most popular to grow on a trellis, especially for the beginning gardener?
- pole beans
- climbing peas
Pole Bean Trellis Ideas
I have to start with my favorite: pole beans. Not sure the difference between bush beans and pole beans? In this blog post I explain the differences between the two: What Kind of Green Beans Should You Grow?
I prefer to grow pole beans because they take up less space in the ground garden (since their growth habit is “up”) and they produce all season instead of one quick burst. Overall, you get more harvest in total from pole beans.
Pole beans vine up in a spiral, latching onto whatever is nearby. They really don’t need to be trained as long as they’re planted next to a trellis, which makes it an easier on the gardener!
For pole beans, a tall structure is best, since they can grow taller than you!
I’ve spent a few seasons trying to find the perfect pole bean trellis. These are the ones I’ve used, along with the pros & cons of each.
My first try at building a support for pole beans was this bamboo trellis. It’s actually a great idea if you have access to bamboo or other tall supports. I made several mistakes in my design, though. I should have dug the poles into the ground further and anchored both ends. But it was my first garden, so I had to start somewhere!
I have also used bamboo poles in a tepee formation. This is a great option, and kids love them! The only problem was their height, which limited the upward growth of the beans. If you go with a tepee trellis, I’d choose taller poles.
Also, make sure they’re anchored well. A trellis full of beans, unanchored, can easily blow over in a windstorm.
A-Frame Bean Trellis
The sturdy A-frame trellis is my favorite trellis for many vertical crops, but it shines with pole beans. Constructed with treated lumber, it has lasted almost a decade.
The structure itself is a pretty straight-forward build, but you have to add additional lines between the boards for the beans to climb up. I prefer to use bailing twine because it lasts several seasons. Regular jute twine will make it through one season and is compostable. But because stringing the twine takes several hours, I prefer to do it every 3-4 years with the bailing twine.
While the A-frame trellis works great for pole beans, it also does double-duty, allowing you to grow shade-tolerant crops beneath it for maximum planting. I love to grow celery underneath mine. It enjoys the warm spring sun while the pole beans are just starting to grow, but when the weather turns hot, the celery appreciates the shade.
(For step-by-step instructions on how to construct this A-frame trellis, click here.)
Bottom line for growing pole beans up a trellis: Whatever method you think will work best for your garden, you need something tall, and you need it relatively small in diameter, less than five inches.
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Trellis Options for Peas
Climbing peas, though similar to beans, possess a slightly different growth habit. Instead of vining in a spiral, they grow up and attach tendrils to what they’re next to. If there is no trellis, many times they’ll attach to one another, causing instability to the entire planting.
Climbing peas prefer attaching to horizontal supports, unlike pole beans, which like vertical ones.
Now, not all peas require a trellis. I grow varieties like Sugar Ann Snap and Lincoln without a trellis. So make sure to check your seed packet or catalog before choosing a trellis for peas. If a support is necessary, the seed packet will tell you.
If you choose climbing peas (my favorite is Green Arrow), you have several options for support.
A-Frame Trellis for Peas
My first year, I wove twine horizontally between the vertical bailing twine of the A-frame trellis, up to about 4′ high. Because peas are a cool-season crop, I planted them first, and after they finished producing, I pulled them up, ripped out the horizontal twine, and planted my beans. They did fine with this method.
Homemade Netting for Climbing Peas
Another option is to hammer in T-posts at the end of rows (or at the end of a raised bed) and weave twine in between the t-posts in a grid pattern.
Here are the benefits I found to using a homemade netting to support climbing peas:
- cheap (all you need is twine & t-posts)
- easy disassembly (just chunk it all in the compost bin at the end of the season).
- customizable (make it as long and as high as you need)
But, there are a few drawbacks to the homemade netting:
- weaving the lines takes a long time. (Get settled into a good garden podcast to pass the time.)
- you have to construct a new one each year
- if you don’t get them tight enough, they will stretch and sag with the weight of the peas
If you’re interested in weaving your own trellis like this, this post shows you how: Weaving the Pea Trellis by Lady Farmer’s Garden.
Pre-Made Vine & Veggie Trellis Net
If you like the netting idea to support peas but you don’t want to weave your own, consider a pre-made trellis netting like this one.
The biggest advantage of this is not having to weave your own, and you also can re-use it season after season. This is all a time-saver.
But some of that time savings the following year is counteracted by having to unroll the netting. If you didn’t take care to put it away in a neat manner (or even if you did), it can be a puzzle of sorts to get it unwound again.
Another drawback is that you are limited to the pre-made sizes available.
Obelisk for Peas
If you like aesthetics or you’re growing in a kitchen garden, you may consider using an attractive obelisk for your peas to climb.
I chose to grow a vining snap pea variety on my obelisk, and it quickly took over. In hindsight, a larger obelisk would have been better. But it sure was beautiful!
I tied twine around the sections, which the peas preferred to latch onto (even the 1″ wood was too thick for the delicate tendrils to wrap around). But even then, I had to train the peas up the obelisk, which I never had to do with the other options.
Bottom line for growing climbing peas up a trellis: They like horizontal supports, but other than that, they’re not particular. Peas are lightweight in general, so you don’t need a sturdy structure like you would for other crops.
Cucumber Trellis Ideas
While you can grow bush-type cucumbers, most gardeners choose vining types that require a trellis.
Their growth habit is similar to peas in that they use their tendrils to hook onto the support, but they will latch onto both horizontal and vertical supports. In fact, having both horizontal and vertical supports is a great option.
Keep in mind, cucumbers don’t just grow up; they grow out. You’ll need to train them to go where you want them to go, especially if you plant them in a small space.
Here are a few great options for growing cucumbers up a trellis:
Section of Livestock Panel
The quickest setup for cucumbers can be found in using a section of livestock panel. Just anchor them into the ground and train the cucumber plants up the trellis.
This is an easy choice for a raised bed, where cucumbers will vine up the back side of the bed, leaving room for other crops in front.
Arch Trellis for Cucumbers
Growing cucumbers up an arch trellis is my favorite way to grow them. They need little training and they quickly cover the arch.
Constructing an arch trellis is easy. Using livestock panel and t-posts, grab a friend or family member and “arch” the panel between 4 posts. Or, if you’re using the arch to span two raised beds, use the beds as the initial anchor, and finish with t-posts for added stability.
Cucumbers love growing up this structure, and when you train the plants to grow up, it makes harvesting so much fun!
How to Build an Arch by Get Busy Gardening gives you another option on constructing an arch trellis.
Small A-Frame Trellis for Cucumbers
If you want a more compact option to trellis your cucumbers, you can also construct a small A-frame trellis or cucumbers to climb. Cool weather crops like cabbage or lettuce happily grow underneath and enjoy the shade of the growing cucumber vines.
Succession Planting Peas & Cucumbers on the Same Trellis
Even though we talked about three different climbing vegetables and the different options to support them, the good news is you can use some trellises for multiple crops. This is particularly true when succession planting peas (a cool season crop) and cucumbers (a warm season crop).
This video shows how I used my pea trellis for my cucumbers through succession planting with those two crops:
Want more ideas? I’ve pinned some neat ideas on my Garden Trellis Pinterest Board here.
Have you used any of these methods, or do you have any you would add to my list?
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