Building Trellises: The Garden Grows Up

garden trellis

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How do you grow vegetables in a small space? You grow up. Specifically, you build a garden trellis for the climbing plants to climb. I do this every year with peas, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.

I don’t have acres of farmland, but the deep, rich soil I’ve built up in my raised beds will support extensive vertical growth. Of the various methods I’ve tried, bamboo poles and baling twine have worked the best for me. Saplings never last more than a year or two, and metal structures are not only limiting, but expensive as well. The bamboo is a relatively small investment, and I’ve used the bundle of 8-foot poles for 5 years now.

My garden trellis design is a little different every year. In my early garden days, I built three-pole tipi-shaped structures and laid a strong pole across the top. This year, my main supporting poles are vertical, with bracing in two directions. This is the foundation; the details depend on your plants, because each type has different growth habits.

Pole beans are strong climbers and grow straight up, inches every day if the weather is right. Vertical lines from the top pole to the bottom are great for this; I use baling twine, but any string or even poles would work. For tomatoes, I start with the same basic structure, then tie a string loosely from the base of each plant to the top supporting pole. As the plants grow, I wind the string around the main stem. I’ve done this for years and it works beautifully.

Building trellises is a great way to extend your gardening space. I really enjoy the creative process, and I think my structures improve every year. Combined with companion planting, this method of growing opens the door to all kinds of beautiful garden spaces!


  1. I wish I had a green thumb but I can’t keep any plants that I grow alive. In the last couple of months I tried to grow herbs and they either died or dying right now.

    1. Hi Luci! I truly believe growing plants is possible in almost any situation…do you have a sunny spot, and are they getting enough water? Clay pots tend to wick the water out so they need watering more often. What kind of herbs are you growing?

  2. This is so cool, I always wanted to grow some veggies in my garden, as you hardly find anything without chemical these days. So growing some by yourself will be a great idea 🙂 Thanks for these tips, glad I came across this post.

    1. Hi Akshay, I agree organic produce is hard to find, and/or prohibitively expensive! Definitely a good reason to grow your own. Thanks for reading.

  3. This is truly a great idea to maximize a small garden space. I would ask my husband if it would be possible to set us some trellies in our backyard too. Thanks for the idea.

    1. Hi Jennifer! What kinds of plants do you grow? You can choose varieties based on whether you can provide a way for them to climb! Thanks for reading.

  4. I have a black thumb, but I do really enjoy being outdoors. I need to give gardening another shot. I love that a limited space doesn’t limit your possibilities.

    1. Gardening is one of my favorite reasons for being outside…and then you get vegetables, too! Good luck, if you do decide to try it again, and thanks for reading.

    1. Hi Charmaine, I hope you do start that garden! Even if it’s a couple of patio pots, there’s such satisfaction in growing your own food. Thanks for reading.

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