Growing grapes vertically is important for the best success, and it looks amazing too. In this post, I’ll show you how to trellis grapes, talk about the benefits, types of supports, and give you tips for training the vines.
Whether you plan to make your own wine and jam, or you simply love the look of the vines, grapes are a classic plant to use for growing vertically.
The beautiful perennial vines are outstanding to use as a privacy screen, or for creating small “rooms” in your garden.
Plus, you get the added bonus of yummy fruit to enjoy at the end of the summer! But in order to to get a good crop, it’s important to learn how to trellis grapes in order to keep them healthy and productive.
Below I’ll tell you all you need to know about growing grapes on a trellis. Once you learn the right way to do it, you’ll see just how easy it is.
Do You Need A Trellis For Grapes?
Well, technically you don’t absolutely need to trellis grapes. They do just fine in the wild without our help.
But, grapevines are natural climbers, and will grab on to anything that’s nearby – including other plants. So if you don’t provide a proper support, they will grow wild wherever they want.
Plus, when they’re left to sprawl out along the ground, they’re more prone to disease issues. They’ll also be within reach of ground dwelling pests that will feast on the fruit.
So yes. If you want a healthy crop, then you’ll definitely need to provide some type of a structure for them, and a very sturdy one at that.
How Do Grapes Grow Vertically?
Yes, all types of grapes will grow vertically. Grapevines send out side shoots called tendrils that will grab onto anything they touch.
They are pretty good climbers on their own. But they will definitely benefit from training to keep them looking tidy, and where you want them.
Vertical Supports For Grapes
The type of support you choose to use for trellising your grapes will depend on why you want to grow them in the first place.
Is it so you can get the maximum amount of fruit? Perhaps it’s because you want to add a structural element or privacy to your garden. Or maybe it’s both.
We planted ours (Edelweiss) for both the fruit, and also to provide privacy and beauty to our backyard sitting area.
The grapevines drape over the top of the pergola, providing both shade and privacy for our little patio.
They look beautiful, add height and interest to our yard, and the fruits look really cool when they’re hanging down from the ceiling of the pergola.
Here are the most important things to consider that will help you choose the best type of trellis…
- Strength – Whatever type of system you choose to use, make sure that it’s extremely sturdy. The vines become very thick with age. So you need a strong trellis that can handle the weight of the mature vines when they’re heavy with fruit.
- Longevity – Grapevines are perennial plants that can survive for a very long time (some live for over 100 years!). So, you need to choose something that will last for many years.
- Height – Mature vines can get very long, and commonly climb to the tops of trees in the wild! So make sure the trellis you choose is tall enough to give them plenty of room. But not so tall that it’s impractical to reach them.
How High Should A Grapevine Trellis Be?
A grapevine trellis should be fairly high and very sturdy. But don’t worry, when they’re properly maintained, you won’t need anything super tall for them.
If you’ve ever seen a vineyard trellis, you’ve probably noticed that they are only about 5-6′ tall.
You could certainly use something taller than that tough. Our pergola is about 10′ high, and it works great.
Just keep in mind that if you choose a really tall structure like a pergola or an arbor, you’ll need to get out a ladder when harvest time comes. But, since you’ll be picking them all at once, that’s not a big deal.
You’ll also need a ladder for pruning and training the vines. Again, not a huge deal, but I wanted to mention it in case it helps you decide what type of support to use for your grapevines.
Related Post: How To Protect Grapes From Birds & Insects
Grapevine Trellis Ideas
When it comes to what type of trellis to use for growing grapes vertically, there are tons of different options.
You could build your own pergola like we did, or buy an arbor or a large arch instead.
If you care more about function, and you want to turn your backyard into a vineyard, then something shorter will work best for you.
That way it’ll be much easier to properly prune, train, and also harvest them.
You could build wood and wire structures like you see in vineyards. But if that’s is not your thing, you can get a kit online.
Caring For Grapevines On A Trellis
Once you’ve figured out what type of system will work best trellising your grapes, it’s time to learn how to care for them.
You can’t just plant them, and leave them alone. They will need your help in order to perform their best, and stay healthy and tame.
How To Trellis Grapes
If you want to try your hand at trellising grapes, it’s best to plan ahead. Be sure to install the support before planting new grapevines (even if it looks way too huge for those baby plants at first!).
Otherwise you could damage the tender stems, or disturb the roots later on.
Young plants may need to be tied to the structure until they get tall enough to grab onto it themselves.
Related Post: Grapevine Beetle Information & Organic Control Tips
How To Train Grapevines
Like I mentioned above, grapevines will benefit from being trained. Without proper training, they can become pretty wild looking, or take over the garden.
This is something you’ll have to do as part of regular maintenance, even after they are mature.
To train them, loosely tie the vines to the support using twine, metal twist ties or flexible plant ties. Just be sure to secure them very loosely, otherwise the ties can strangle or cut into the vines as they get thicker.
Once the tendrils grab on, you can remove the ties, and move them up higher to secure the new growth.
Grapevines can be trained to grow out horizontally across a trellis, just like you see in vineyards.
Or you can train them to go over the top of a pergola or arbor so that the fruits will hang down from the ceiling as they mature. Learn more about how to train vines here.
Trellising grapes is not difficult, and it’s very beneficial. Now that you know how to grow grapes vertically, you’ll not only get a cleaner and better crop, but you’ll have a beautiful architectural element in your garden too.
If you love vertical veggie gardening, and want to learn all about it, then my brand new book, Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield In Less Space is just for you! In it you will learn all about the techniques, plants, care and design, and also how to build nearly two dozen beautiful projects step-by-step! Order your copy now!
Learn more about my new Vertical Vegetables book here.
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