Most gardeners are aware that when growing grapes, you will need to construct some kind of support structure to guide and encourage the growth of your vines. The reason for this is that grape vines are natural climbers and are unable to support their own weight as they continue to grow. This is especially true once the fruit starts to grow, it is just too heavy for the vines to support themselves. Usually, a grape vine trellis, arbour or lattice takes the role of supporting the vines. These are simple structures that can be built by anyone with some basic DIY or woodworking knowledge. If you are not comfortable building your own then these kinds of structures can also be purchased from home and garden centres relatively cheaply. Here are some important things that you will want to keep in mind when either constructing or purchasing a trellis for your vines.
1 – Positioning. It is important to allow adequate space for individual vines to grow. The roots will typically spread out quite a distance from the base of the vine, so make sure they have adequate room to do this. Typically, an area of eight feet in each direction will be sufficient to allow to roots to grow as they please. This will vary depending on the grape variety you are growing, but eight feet should always be sufficient.
2 – Construction. The posts of your trellis will usually be around 3 feet in height for smaller structures, or about 8 feet for larger ones. The variety of grapes you are growing will determine what trellis height will be optimal. Allowing each post to extend down around one foot into the ground should be sufficient to ensure that it remains stable and is not uprooted by strong winds or the considerable weight of the fully grown vines. The materials most commonly used to build the trellis include timber, uPVC, steel or aluminium.
3 – Positioning and fixing of wires. Two wires will be needed to support your vines. These will run the length of the trellis and are attached to each post. The first wire should sit around 1.5 feet up from the ground, with the second running across the top of the posts. Use either nails or industrial, heavy duty staples to fix these wires in place. Now the catch wires must be installed, these are attached to the post at each end of the trellis structure and will rest on nails hammered into the other posts. These wires help to guide the growth of your vines.
The above instructions should give you a good idea of how a basic trellis needs to be constructed. It is worth noting that installing the trellis in year one is optional, but as you move into year two it will always be required. We recommend having it in place from day one as this will avoid disturbing your vines by digging the ground up to install a trellis once the vines are already growing.
Ryan Jameson –
About the Author:
Ryan is a grape growing enthusiast and well versed in building a How Grapes Grow? Head over to Ryan’s free grape growing website for access to his 100% FREE grape growing email course!