A Tour Of The Trellises

When we hit up the Seattle Tilth Plant Sale a few weeks ago, we arrived early and had some time to kill before we could start plant shopping. This gave us some time to walk around the Good Shepherd P-Patch.

I was struck by how many methods p-patchers were using to trellis their peas and beans. Here’s a sampling of what we saw.

Bamboo teepee and twine. Classic option.

Steel conduit holding 6″ mesh netting. I love the poly netting, plants climb it easily and it’s simple to harvest through the large openings.

Wood and twine. I love the way holes have been drilled in the top and bottom bars so the twine can be run back and forth like a shoelace.

Sawhouse-style, good for growing parallel rows of climbing veggies.

Bamboo hand-tied lattice. I would guess the gardener is growing a bush-variety of pea, or else plans to do additional tying-in as the season progresses.

My favorite! This is a circular support for peas or beans, and is built with old bicycle rims at the top and bottom, with some kind of synthetic line strung between the spoke-holes. I thought this was just creative as hell, and a great use of space.

Here’s a close-up of the bike-rim support.
This year, we are growing our beans up twine strung between two wires. The wires are held with big long galvanized support pipes that held up an old chain-link fence. We tore down the fence, but kept the pipes, just because they looked like they might come in handy. And so they have…. 

I’m also pushing the “beans like to be crowded” thing to the extreme, and trying a tripple row sowing of my pole beans. We’ll see how they do.

How do you support your climbers? Links to pictures, if you have them, are welcome!


  1. Saskia says

    These are great ideas! Last season we made a hinged, A-frame trellis from some chicken wire and plywood we had around the yard, based on this design: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/8315/diy-a-frame-veggie-trellis.

    It's worked well for beans and peas, folds up nicely for storage and has held up well so far, even when super high winds blew it sideways out of a rain-soaked raised bed this winter, with peas still attached. That was due to poor set up on our part, though; next time we'll anchor it better or stick to using it in the ground.

  2. says

    wow, I find all these methods to be impressive! but gotta love that the bicycle folks seem to be using patched-together bits and pieces of string as well. such splendid re-purposing!

  3. says

    >Two sides of an old crib – the slats are great for heavier climbers – did butternut squashes and cukes on them. Mine were nailed to a raised bed frame, but could be teepee style also.
    >Vintage all metal box springs with two metal posts to keep it upright.
    >Old triangle shaped radio antennae supports – The triangle shape of 3 main poles, with metal cross bars the 6 ft up make this sturdy for tomatoes, etc.
    >Trimmed an oak tree – saved all the long limbs and tieing teepee style with old baling twine (farm area here)
    >Assorted metal grates like the dog barriers that go in a car station wagon, or hog fencing, panels. Caution – metal may burn the plants if you live in a hot area…I don't have to worry about that here in Moo-town…
    >Discarded orange plastic gridded construction barriers… The holes make it nice for climbing, but the orange is a big much til it gets covered with plants.
    >Old wooden step ladders.
    >My fav is a steel windmill, 8 foot tall, painted green with the windmill a bright yellow and orange to look like a huge flower in my garden – the scarlet runner beans love this one!

    ALL of my stuff has been free :)

  4. Noelle says

    Two experiments this year:

    (1) Runner beans up a birch tree in our front yard. The branches on the tree are trimmed to about 10-12 feet up the trunk, so we've rigged some old chicken wire from a previous project for the runner beans to climb. The beans were then planted around the base of the tree. If they reach the lowest branches, they can climb along those and still get some light. The tree is really tall and thin so it gets a lot of horizontal light, especially the south side. Wasted vertical space put to use!

    (2) Pea and tomatoes sharing space. I planted the peas in rows spaced at the edge of where the tomato cages would go. Tomatoes and their cages were put in on Monday between pea rows, and now the peas are climbing the cages. By the time the tomatoes get big enough to shade the space, the peas will be long done and pulled out. The only thing I've got watch for are peas angling into the cages and strangling the tomatoes.

  5. says

    Very creative. I'd like to try anything out there if my climbers ever grew. My peas are 3 inches tall right now. I actually use some scrap 2x2s I've screwed in raised screws at 6 inch spacing. Then I just run twine between the screws. I had the materials from garden projects so I used them. I also have a 4 foot lattice my Aunt gave me that I may use if cukes ever get planted. Tomatoes get cages. I'm simple and functional.

  6. says

    I like that laced wood and twine one; I may have to try that…

    I have snow peas on a bamboo and twine teepee :

    and shelling peas on bamboo and twine :

    and my favorite; shelling peas on twig and twine:

  7. says

    When using Trellises to help grow vegetables in a garden you don’t have to go out and purchase fancy structures. Instead, you can even build your own structures with a few pieces of lumber and some nails. If you are going to be using trellis structures to help support plants in a flower garden then you may want to build or purchase a more architecturally beautiful structure.

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