June 26, 2017

DIY Easy Garden Trellis


How to make a simple, cheap trellis for your garden.

Any variety of vegetable plant that sprawls across the ground is a candidate for trellising. Not only does it look tidier, it keeps the fruit up off the ground,  increases air flow and prevents fungus, helps to minimize insect damage and gives you more planting space in your garden. Peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, small melons, gourds and pole beans are best grown on a trellis.

Trellising gives you more planting space when you're using raised beds by growing your larger plants vertically. You can even plant cool weather plants in the shade of trellised plants to protect them from the summer sun.

Lightweight plants such as peas and beans can be grown on netting, but heavier plants will need something more sturdy. Heavy fruits such as melons can be supported with slings tied to the trellis. Old t-shirts, net bags that onions come in, and old nylons can be used as slings.

There are as many ways to trellis plants as there are gardeners. Of course, the easiest and least expensive way is to use materials you have on hand. Here are some examples:

Tomato cages work best for determinate tomato plants.
  • Tomato cages are one of the first things you might think of when growing tomatoes. They are rather flimsy though and tend to topple over when the plant gets huge as some tomato varieties do. They are better for determinate tomato plants that don't get as large. I used one this year for my one and only cherry tomato plant. I thought it would be sufficient, but the plant just keeps growing and the cage is already leaning to one side. I've tied it to stakes to hopefully keep it upright. I've found that these usually last one season, which makes them not-frugal.

  • The Florida weave method holds tomato plants upright between stakes or poles. I've used this method a few times in the past, but it took a lot of stakes and continuous tending. It works better in a garden row rather than a raised bed. You might enjoy this Facebook video demonstration of the Florida weave from Savers and Preppers.

  • Sturdy fencing scraps can be wired together in a circle around plants. You might need to attach them to t-posts or stakes to keep them upright. Depending on the type of fencing, you might want to cut a few hand-size or vegetable-size holes in the wire.

  • Plants can be tied to t-posts or stakes, one plant per stake. If you use this method, drive your stakes in when you plant your tomatoes so they won't damage the plants' roots by being driven in later.

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This year I happened to look at several pieces of cattle panels that I'd leaned against the garden fence in the fall, and had a light bulb moment.

I used two pieces of cattle panel, also called utility panels. The panels are sold in sixteen-foot lengths, but hubby had cut these a few years ago using a rotary cutter. They are between four and five feet long, and aren't both the same length, but that's ok, this still works. One side is just longer than the other.

This year I made a tomato trellis with two cattle panels.

I stood the two panels up along the long side of the raised bed, one on each side and touching at the top to make a tent-shape that's longer than it is tall. It was a bit interesting getting them up by myself, a second pair of hands would have been helpful. I attached the two panels together with baling wire at the top.

It looks like there are t-posts involved, but those are part of my garden fence, not the trellis.

Put your trellis in place before your plants grow too large to train.

The bottom of my panels are held in place by the side of the raised bed; the soil level is slightly below the top of the wood so they're lodged in there pretty well.

How to make an easy garden trellis.

As my tomato plants grow, I tuck them into the next space of the panel, weaving them in and out, and tying them in strategic places with the string from the top of feed bags. If necessary, when the plants are more mature and much heavier, I can tie the plants with a stronger yet gentler material such as strips cut from old t-shirts or sweatpants.

Continue to train your plants as they grow, weaving them into the trellis and tying them where needed.
Borage plants grow in between my trellised tomato plants.

And that's it! Very simple and easy. So far this has held up through several strong wind storms. Be sure to set up your trellis before your plants get too large and are more difficult to train.

Do you let your plants sprawl on the ground or do you tie them up? What is your favorite method of trellising?




This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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18 comments:

  1. Your garden is so beautiful and lush! Thank you for sharing the way you trellis your plants. Looks like it works perfectly!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. So far it's been a good gardening year. The tomato plants are very big now and the trellis is holding up well.

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  2. I love this idea!! Tomato trellises and chicken wire can be so flimsy. Thank you!!!

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    1. Thanks, and you're welcome!

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  3. I love growing vertical and the cow panels are perfect because they're so strong plus there is so much you can do with them. I have thornless blackberries covering one right now. Have used them with cucumbers and sugar baby pumpkins in the past. Also have use rebar with left over welded fence wire. You name it I've tried it and really love building wood frames for annuals only. My favorite is the cow panels because of the strength. Your garden looks great I bet you're enjoying those raised beds.

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    1. They really are perfect in the garden, aren't they, Carole! The hard part is getting them home from the store. :-)

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  4. What do you think the best way is to keep the bunnies from eating the buds off my tomato plant? I had a blooming plant but haven't had one tomato because of if. I never planted anything before and thought I would try with 1 plant but so far nothing. LOL

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    1. Can you put a "fence" around the plant? Maybe some chicken wire in a circle around it. Put 2 or 3 stakes in the ground to hold the wire in place and hold it up. Welded wire fencing is sturdier but would cost more to buy; you can get a roll of chicken wire for pretty cheap, and you wouldn't need much for just one plant. Or if you have some reclaimed wood laying around maybe you could make a wooden "fence" that could be moved later. Good luck, it's early in the season yet so you should be able to get plenty of tomatoes once you outsmart the bunnies!

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  5. Good idea... I keep several items around that one son always wants to throw away in the spring, but which come in handy for trellis use. :)

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    1. There's a balance between keeping junk and keeping useful stuff, isn't there? Use what you have and save money!

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  6. Perfect timing for this. We have similar raised beds and I don't know what to do with all the vines :) I will have to try this. Thanks for sharing! http://www.honestlymodern.com/category/blog-101/be-clean-be-green-with-kids-link-up/

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    1. They're working great for me and I'm sure they will for you too!

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  7. This is really simple. We needed this in our garden! Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday. blog hop!

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    1. Sometimes simple is the best!

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  8. Oh! This is what I should have done in the spring. I meant to tie up some tomato and cucumber plants and didn't get around to it. I will certainly put these together before they take over the garden next year. Thanks, for sharing!

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    1. I've been guilty of not getting around to it in time too, Anne. The earlier we can get it done, the better.

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  9. My garden this year has a variety of trellis ways working, old fencing we had, old fence posts, lattice leftovers, jute twine, old ties from dogfood and animal feed bags...you name it I'm trying it this year lol. My favorite way to trellis tomatoes so far is welded fence with tall stakes. I had several pieces of fence roll laying around, it's about 3ft tall maybe? I stapled one end to the top of a tall wooden stake that was pounded in where the plant was to go, then a wrapped it around into a circle then zip tied the other end to the post. The plant has about 18"-2' of open growth before it hits the "cage". In winter I can store them flat, and the only part I'll have to replace regularly is the cheap wooden stakes every few years. I could use metal t-posts in the future I suppose, but I started using larger sticks/branches from our wooded area and from pruning we've done around the property, and they work great also!! Plus they are free!!

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    1. Great ideas, Danelle. Free is best! I've used circles of fence wire too but didn't attach to a post; it would be much sturdier with a post like you've done.

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