The best vegetable garden trellis ideas are practical, flexible, and make an attractive feature on your plot. They will also help to maximize your growing potential, utilizing every spare inch of space.
Whether your garden is big or small, there is a trellis solution that will work for what you want to grow. So make growing vertically a key element of your vegetable garden ideas.
'Introducing crops at eye level and above breaks up the lines and makes the space feel much more immersive and welcoming than if everything were placed on the ground,' says Alex Mitchell, gardening writer and author of Crops in Tight Spots. 'Every vertical surface is a potential growing area.'
Vegetable garden trellis ideas
When choosing the right trellis for your vegetable garden, consider its style and your budget. You can easily create an attractive design without spending a lot of money.
While trellis made of rustic sticks is ideal for cottage garden ideas, a minimalist metal trellis suits a contemporary garden. 'Panels of weld mesh make inexpensive and contemporary looking trellis,' says Mitchell.
You may even be able to use existing plants as your trellis. 'Some climbers can be encouraged to grow up other plants, particularly trees,' says Alys Fowler in her book Eat What You Grow. 'However, competition around the base of a tree for root space means that some effort has to be put in to establish the climber.'
1. Grow crops over a trellis arch
For a vegetable garden trellis idea with impact, you can't beat an arched pergola, which allows your crops to grow overhead, making for a dramatic walkway. The framework can be fitted with discreet wirework for training climbing plants.
Growing fruits, such as pears or grapes, over an arched pergola will create a romantic, Mediterranean feel. But you can also grow other climbers such as runner beans, which have pretty scarlet flowers, or even cucumbers or squashes, which make a stunning feature dangling down as they grow overhead.
2. Build a rustic trellis with branches
You don't need to spend a lot of money on vegetable garden trellis, as some of the simplest ideas can be the most effective.
Before you start, think about the position of your trellis, considering the growing needs of each crop. 'Edibles in general need a sunny spot,' says gardening expert Leigh Clapp.
Here, long, thin branches have been used to create a simple rustic framework, but you could alternatively use willow sticks or bamboo canes.
To recreate the look, you will need to hammer in wooden posts at six-foot intervals, to provide stability. Then, attach your branch trellis in a criss-cross formation using garden string.
This trellis is shown growing tomatoes as cordons, but you could use it for any number of climbing vegetables or fruits.
3. Make a wigwam trellis
One of the easiest and best vegetable garden trellis ideas is to use wigwams or tripods, which also add height and interest to a country garden, while being space-efficient
'To add vertical punctuation points or as a practical support for edibles, tripod structures have long been a valuable tool in the garden,' says Clapp. 'Add a splash of paint to transform them into something a bit special.'
This simple project uses wigwams made of sticks, which take just minutes to make. All you need is three to four sticks or canes of a similar height, and garden twine.
Simply plant the end of each stick in the ground, arranging them in a square or triangle formation, then gather them at the top and tightly tie together with string.
To train your vegetables, you can either wrap around string to create a trellis framework, or tie the plants to the canes as they grow.
Wigwams are the ideal solution for beans, peas and tomatoes, but can also be used for squashes and melons as long as you choose sturdy canes.
If you prefer a less rustic solution for your garden, then a metal or painted timber obelisk offers the same results with a more elegant appearance.
4. Zone your crops with a trellis screen
Wooden trellis panels can be used to make a striking green backdrop in a vegetable garden. Position them to create distinct garden 'rooms', or to screen off unsightly areas.
Trellis panels require adequate support, meaning they will need to be fixed to fencing posts in order to secure them in place. Alternatively, you can attach panels to an existing fence or wall.
'It's helpful to use vine eyes or to put the trellis on a frame so that it sits just away from the wall or fence to increase air circulation around the plant and help maintain the wall or fence,' says Alys Fowler.
Most climbing vegetables and fruits can be grown against a trellis panel, although it is not be the best solution for larger varieties such as cucumbers, squashes and melons.
5. Border your garden with an elegant wirework fence
Metal trellis fencing is a robust and elegant solution for marking a boundary while maintaining visibility and providing vertical space for vegetables and fruit to grow.
Usually made from steel, the posts either need to be concreted into the ground or fixed to hard landscaping with bolt-down plates. This makes the trellis a long-term, hardwearing option, allowing annual vegetables to be grown alongside perennials.
There are few climbing perennial vegetables, but a number of fruits will come back stronger each year, including kiwis, grapes, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as pears and apples, which can be espaliered.
This metal trellis design by Garden Requisites is available in a choice of galvanized, aged or painted metal, and will weather beautifully over time.
6. Support low-growing vegetables with a mini trellis
Not all climbing vegetables grow tall, while some non-climbers also need support too. This clever mini trellis incorporates wire loops supported by bamboo canes – and is a fabulous solution if you are looking for small vegetable garden ideas.
Tall climbing plants, which may require staking, are perfectly accommodated, and the design shows how well it works for growing kale. But the idea is also suited to other crops such as dwarf peas, peppers and shorter chili plants.
As well as supporting plants, the mini trellis provides a demarcation between different areas of the veg patch.
7. Include espaliered fruit trees
When planning your vertical vegetable garden, don't forget to include some fruit trees. Apples and pears are perfect for espaliering, which means the branches are trained to grow flat against against a support such as trellis.
'Fruit trees are a wonderful addition, even in the tiniest space, as espaliers, cordons or step-overs,' says Clapp.
This example uses discreet wire trellis to train the pears, creating a beautiful backdrop to the garden.
8. Build a vegetable walkway
This simple walkway, built using tall bamboo canes, is a brilliant solution for rustic country gardens. It uses tied stacks of canes as pillars – supporting a criss-cross roof – all held together with string to make a rigid structure.
Towering sunflowers are grown alongside beans and chili peppers for a visual feast, but you could also grow squashes and cucumbers across the overhead supports.
9. Create a vertical salad and herb planter
For a clever twist on traditional vegetable garden trellis ideas, try a salad and herb panel. It's a particularly clever way to grow lettuce.
In this custom design, discreet fabric plant pockets are concealed within a wooden frame, while a fine wirework trellis helps to keep them in place.
As the leaves grow, the inner trellis support is invisible, and the plants appear to be growing completely vertically.
'Étagères, using old ladders, stacked containers, palettes or metal stands, also offer the opportunity for a vertical veg garden,' says Clapp. 'Pots can be attached to walls or you could use one of the many commercial living wall systems available.'
10. Use linking trellis panels
The beauty of a linking vegetable trellis panel, is that it is buildable to any size. Yet it can easily be dismantled and stored away over winter, then moved into a new position come spring.
Available from Sarah Raven, these panels are each supplied with a pair of support stakes that are fed through loops on the sides, making it easy to link two screens together to form multiple configurations.
Featuring a vintage rust finish and classic ball finials, the screens are not only useful for supporting climbing vegetables, but for making a decorative barrier in the garden.
11. Invest in a bean frame
A runner bean frame – such as this design by Agriframes – is an elegant option for growing this crop as well as heavy fruits others such as cucumbers. It would also make a lovely support when growing sweet peas.
You will need to cover the frame with inexpensive trellis netting in order to provide enough support for climbing vegetables and fruits. Jute is a great choice for achieving the cottage garden look.
12. Use planters with built-in trellis
If you are looking for vegetables garden container ideas for a patio, then a planter with built-in trellis is invaluable. Usually made from wood, these planters can be bought off the shelf or custom built, and will need to be lined to preserve the timber.
Invest in a generous planter size to ensure the roots have enough space. 'Include companion plants that attract beneficial insects, such as marigolds and daisies,' says Clapp.
What vegetables grow best on a trellis?
'Nearly all the good edible climbers need some sort of support to grow up,' says Fowler. Here are the best to try:
- Beans are often the first plant you think of in terms of climbers – runner beans are particularly popular, but also consider other varieties including French and broad beans. 'Water them well and harvest regularly – the more you pick, the more the plant will produce,' says Clapp.
- Peas, including mangetout, will also need to be supported – 'otherwise the pods will sit on the ground and get munched,' says Fowler.
- Tomatoes need supporting when trained as cordons, and are perfect for beginner home growers. 'All tall varieties need a cane to grow up or a trellis to tie them to,' says Mitchell. Remove the suckers – or side shoots – as they grow.
- Squashes and pumpkins can be grown as climbers, and make a quirky feature in the garden. However, they are heavy so require strong support.
- Cucumbers work well grown against flexible trellis positioned at an angle to allow the fruit to drape.
- Apples and pears can be grown as espaliers using trellis support against a wall, and also look fabulous grown over an archway.
As editor of Period Living, Britain's best-selling period homes magazine, I love the charm of older properties. I live in a rural village just outside the Cotswolds, so am lucky to be surrounded by beautiful homes and countryside, where I enjoy exploring. I am passionate about characterful interiors and heritage-inspired designs, but I am equally fascinated by a house's architectural elements – if I spot an elegant original sash window or intricate stained-glass front door, it fills my heart with joy. It's so important to me that original features are maintained and preserved for future generations to enjoy. My other passion is my garden, and I am slowly building up my planting knowledge, and becoming more confident at experimenting with growing my own. As well as editing Period Living, I am also co-editing the Country Channel of Homes & Gardens. In my previous roles, I have worked on Real Homes and Homebuilding & Renovating, wiriting about modern design and architecture, so my experience is broad – but my heart belongs to period homes.
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