Growing grapes on a trellis is fun, looks beautiful, and is a great way to try your hand at vertical gardening. If you want to grow your own grapes, then it’s important to know how to trellis grapes in order to produce a healthy crop. In this post, I will talk about different types of grapevine support structures, and show you exactly how to grow grapevines on a trellis in your home garden.
Whether you plan to make your own wine and grape 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!
Do You Need A Trellis For Grapes?
Well, technically you don’t absolutely need to trellis grapes. They grow just fine in the wild without our help.
But, grapevines are natural climbers, and will try to climb up anything that’s nearby – including other plants. So if you don’t provide a proper grape plant support, they will grow wild wherever they want.
Plus, grapevines left to grow along the ground will be prone to disease issues, and will also be within reach of ground dwelling pests that will feast on the fruit.
So yes. If you want to grow a healthy grape crop, then you’ll definitely need to provide some type of a vine support structure for them, and a very sturdy one at that.
How Do Grapes Grow On A Trellis?
Grapevines send out side shoots called tendrils that will grab onto anything they touch. The vines are pretty good climbers on their own, but will definitely benefit from training (see below) to keep them looking tidy and growing where you want them.
How High Should A Grape Trellis Be?
Grape plants can grow to be very tall, and the vines commonly grow to the tops of trees in the wild! But don’t worry, when they’re properly maintained, you won’t need a super tall trellis for growing grapes. If you’ve ever seen a vineyard trellis design, 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′ tall 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 harvesting all of your grapes at once, that’s not a big deal.
You’ll also need a ladder for pruning and training the vines if you choose a taller structure. Again, not a huge deal, but I wanted to make sure to mention it in case it helps you decide what type of trellis system to use for your grapevines.
Related Post: How to Protect Grapes from Birds and Bugs in Your Garden
Grapevine Trellis Ideas
When it comes to what type of trellis to use for growing grapes in your home garden, there are tons of different options. The type of support you choose to use will depend on why you’re growing grape plants in the first place.
We grow our hardy zone 4 grapes (Edelweiss) for both the fruit, and also to provide privacy and beauty to our backyard sitting area. The grapevines grow over the top of the pergola, providing both shade a privacy for our little patio.
The vines also look beautiful, add height and interest to our yard, and the grapes look really cool when they’re hanging down from the ceiling of the pergola. You could build your own grape arbor or pergola like we did, or buy a garden arbor to trellis grapes instead.
But if you care more about function, and you want to turn your backyard into a vineyard, then shorter supports will work best for you. Shorter structures make it much easier to properly prune and trellis grapes, and also make harvesting much easier.
You could build wood and wire trellis structures like you see in vineyards. If building a trellis is not your thing, you may be able to find a DIY grape trellis kit, like this one I found online.
Whatever type of grape plant trellis system you choose to use, make sure it’s both sturdy and will last for several years. Grapevines are perennial plants that can live for a very long time (some grapevines can live for over 100 years!).
The vines also grow to be very thick, and they need a heavy duty trellis that can handle the weight of the full grown vines. So keep that in mind as you’re deciding which type of structure you want to use.
How To Trellis Grapes
If you want to try your hand at growing grapes, it’s best to plan ahead. Be sure to install the growing structure before planting new grapevines (even if it looks way too huge for those baby vines at first!) so that you don’t damage the vines or disturb the roots later on.
Young vines may need to be tied to the support until they grow long enough to grab onto it themselves (see the section below for details of how to tie the vines to the support).
You may also want to install temporary garden stakes or netting at the base of your structure to use for training grapevines the first year or so, until the vines grow large enough to grow up the main support on their own.
Related Post: What You Need To Know About The Grapevine Beetle
How To Train Grapevines
Like I mentioned above, grapevines will benefit from being trained to keep them growing on the plant support you provide for them. Without proper training, they can grow pretty wild looking, or take over the garden.
To train grapevines to grow vertically, loosely tie the vines to the support using twine, metal twist ties or flexible plant ties. Just be sure to tie them very loosely, otherwise the ties can strangle or cut into the vines as they get thicker.
Once the grapevines grab on, you can remove the ties and move them up higher as the vine grows taller. Vine training is something you’ll have to do as part of regular grapevine maintenance, even after they are mature.
Grapevines can be trained to grow out horizontally across the grape support structure, like you see on vineyard trellis systems.
Or you can train them to grow 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.
As long as you provide them with a proper support that is strong enough and will last a long time, growing grapes on a trellis is easy. Now that you know how grapevines grow, how to support grapevines with the proper structure, and how to trellis grapes, all that’s left is deciding where to plant them!
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Learn more about my new Vertical Vegetables book here.
- Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield In Less Space
- The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine
- The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own
- A Beginners Guide To Discovering The Fundamentals Of Growing Grapes
- An Enthusiast’s Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Wine at Home
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Tell us your grapevine trellis ideas and share your tips for how to trellis grapes in the comments section below.