This summer, H and I built a grape trellis for the garden plot. I’ve been wanting to grow my own Cordon grapes for years now, so I’m excited that I finally found time for this project.
We went with a trellis that works well for North American and European grape varieties: the High Cordon Trellis System. It consists of two horizontal wires strung between two end-posts, with one line-post in the middle. If you’re growing more than one plant, you can set the end-posts further apart and set multiple line-posts between them.
This is the largest building project that I have taken on. It is definitely a two-person project; one of you will need to hold the post straight in the hole, while the other person buries it with dirt. If you’re not using wire vices (we didn’t), it’s easier to attach the wires and make them taut if one person is at each post.
I used this YouTube video for guidance. I had to alter the instructions in order to make the project fit within my budget. Here’s how we ended up making ours.
How to Make a Grape Trellis
- 2 pine posts measuring 2x2x8 (4x4x8 is better, if possible)
- 1 8-foot tall metal t-post or a wood post (we used a 1x2x8 pine post)
- Galvanized steel wire #9 (at least 50-feet long)
- t-post clips (if using a wire t-post) OR wooden post (we used 1x2x8)
- 4 wire vices (optional)
Decide how far apart you want your end-posts. We set ours 24-feet apart. Set each post 2-feet deep into the ground.
Decide where to put your t-posts (or wooden post). We set ours in the middle. If you’re growing more than one grape plant, leave 8-feet of space between each t-post. Set the t-post(s) 2-feet deep into the ground.
Drill holes into the end-posts. The first set will be 3-feet above the ground. The second set will be 5.5-feet above ground. If using a wooden post in the middle, you may drill holes into that too, which is what we did.
String the wire through the holes. If using wire vices, use them to clamp the wire onto the end-posts. Otherwise, just wrap the wire around the post a bunch of times. Repeat on both sides, stringing the wire as tightly as possible. If you’re using a metal t-post, you may clamp the wire onto it using t-post clips.
And that’s it! Plant the grape plant next to the t-post and watch it grow!
The end-posts really should be 4x4x8, but I ran into trouble at the store. Redwood posts are expensive, treated wood (that had green specks in it) is toxic to plants, and the store did not carry that size in pine. So I opted for 2x2x8 pine for the end-posts.
I could not find any galvanized steel wire labelled as “#9 wire,” so we just got some galvanized steel wire that seemed thick enough. I lost the packaging for it, so I’m not sure of its exact thickness.
Then, I could not find any “wire vices,” which must be an American product. When I asked two different people to help me find it, nobody knew what I was talking about, and they looked at me like I was crazy (or perhaps not crazy, but as some silly, confused woman), but they do exist! They are available through Amazon.ca; I just can’t find them in the stores here. I’m not patient enough to order them and wait for them to arrive, so I just wrapped the wire ends around the posts a bunch of times. Maybe later I will order some wire vices.
I altered my plan again after bringing the materials to the garden plot and trying to dig holes for the posts. I planned to set each post 2.5-feet deep, but the soil at my garden plot is heavy with clay. Digging it up was brutal! Even with two of us taking turns with the shovel, a depth of 2-feet was the best we could manage. I’m hoping that the clay will help to hold the posts in place.
We will see how well the trellis holds up this year, and add more support later on if needed. It should be easy enough to add ground anchors to the end posts. We might even add two more posts with latticework across the top to create an arbor. That probably won’t be necessary for at least another year, though.
Have you ever grown grapes? What sort of support structure did you use?