Which Trellis is the Best Trellis?

Here at Seed Savers Exchange, to say we grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers would be an understatement. With decades of experience growing hundreds of vegetable varieties in production and garden settings, our crews at Seed Savers Exchange have learned a thing or two about support systems. Here are some trellises we like to use around the farm. Feel free to comment at the bottom of this page to share your favorite structures, as well!

Chicken Wire A-Frame Trellis A-frame Trellis Hinges










Chicken Wire A-Frame
Best for peas
These trellises are made by creating a small frame with long legs out of untreated cedar. Chicken wire is stapled onto the frame, and hinges are used to attach two frames together at the top. This construction allows flexibility of width in the garden and flat winter storage. Unruly chicken wire is contained when attached to the frame, and the trellis can be used for years to come. This is a good trellis for peas, shorter beans, and vining flowers.


Long Bamboo Wall TrellisBamboo Tee-Pee Trellis









Bamboo and Twine
Best for beans and sturdy climbing vines
Bamboo stakes are incredibly useful around the garden, and trellis systems of all types can be made with a handful of stakes and twine. Tee-pees can be created by installing several stakes in a circle, then tying the tops together with twine. Long bamboo walls are made by creating two lines of poles about a foot apart, and tying the tops together. A stake placed perpendicularly on top of the poles adds stability. Bamboo trellis systems work well with beans, runners, and other strong climbers. Bamboo is not recommended for cowpeas and peas, as they have a more difficult time attaching to the smooth surface of the poles.


T-Posts and Hog Panel Trellis










T-Posts and Hog Panel
Best for any short vining plant and tomatoes
A t-post and hog panel is the most used trellis system on the Seed Savers Exchange farm because of its ease of installation and versatile use. Two t-posts per panel are installed, and panels are attached with zip ties or twine. Vining plants will climb, and non-vining plants can be tied to the panel with twine for support.


T-Posts and Twine Trellis













T-Posts and Twine
Best for decorative cucumbers and small melons
This experimental trellis system is used for displaying cucumbers and small melons. Several t-posts are installed in two lines, leaned outwards to create a V-shape. Twine is tied between each t-post to complete each line of the V, and plants are placed on the inside of the V. As cucumbers and other vining plants grow, the fruits will hang on the opposite side of the V in a decorative fashion.


Grandpa Ott's Morning Glories vining up twine













Best for vining plants and flowers
Twine can be used throughout the garden to provide support for vining plants. At Seed Savers Exchange, twine is strung between wooden posts in the ground and hooks on the eves of the barn to allow support for climbing morning glories.


Founded in 1975, Seed Savers Exchange operates an 890-acre farm in northeast Iowa where thousands of rare fruit, vegetable, and other plant varieties are regenerated and preserved in a central collection. Its mission is conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. For information visit www.seedsavers.org

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  1. Some good ideas!

  2. Antonio says:

    Thanks for the great ideas.

  3. What do you think about trellising squash?

    • Last year I trellised squash on one of the hog panels. It worked really well for a small squash. You have to train the runners to grow up the trellis, and any bigger squash should be supported by tying them in a mini-hammock to the structure. Additionally, a squash missed my notice before it had grown IN the trellis, making it impossible to remove without cutting it open!

  4. Thanks – these are all good ideas and the photos are wonderful.

  5. I’d be careful and make sure the bamboo is truly deceased, as it can take over large areas and is a perennial!

  6. I like to trellis on mammoth sunflowers and corn plants. It is beautiful and maximizes space. My husband and I also put a five foot tall horse wire fence around our 30×20 garden. We grow peas, beans, cucumbers, anything that needs to climb on it. Our garden is a private botanical room when in full bloom. It is also very durable and keeps kids and dogs from stepping on baby plants:)

    • Sounds like a good way to keep deer out as well!

      Traditionally, Native Americans would grow beans on corn stalks, and squashes at the base. This is called a three-sisters planting. Corn provided a support for the beans, and squash kept the weeds down and pests away!

  7. I was so hoping to find some new types of trellis here :-( I’m trying to figure out ways of trellising different types of melons and winter squash! Not the giants, just the more manageable sizes. I would really like to make the best use of my space so that I can grow all the varieties I purchased this year. Any specific suggestions for this type? I would also prefer attractive trellising if possible since its our front yard! Also has anyone trellised Melon Rampicante Zuccherino? It’s one of the many in my garden this year :-)

    • When I was researching different trellising techniques, I stumbled upon a few ideas you may be interested in. First, the hog-panels work well for squash – you simply have to train the runners to go up the trellis systems, and hammock bigger fruits. I have seen people use ladders for trellising squash, which I thought was also a neat idea. Additionally, some people created a-frames or tunnels with cow-panels to grow the squash on the outside of. Good luck with your squash!

  8. I love this trellis for cucumbers. I am going to do this for mine this year.

  9. I’d love to see what trellising techniques you use for larger scale field plantings – we’re looking to trellis 100 ft rows of pole beans and cucumbers, but most of the ideas we’ve found are very much garden-scale.


  10. I’m a new member to Seed Savers, and have little to offer in terms of expertise, but have sure enjoyed the seeds I’ve grown from other members! I do have one additional way to grow cucumbers that has worked well for me: I arch a 16 ft. “cattle panel” (48-50″ tall, usually about $20-23 at feed stores or Tractor Supply Co.) from one raised bed, over the second, and anchored in the third. It creates an arch about 5-6′ tall. The cucumbers grow up this and over, and the cukes hang down underneath for easy picking. Also the middle bed becomes shaded by the time the plants grow over the top, creating a nice spot for some summer greens that benefit from some mottled shade. I used any small wooden stakes to anchor the ends of the panel (lately I’ve just used some small cedar limbs or small branches sharpened on one end, though in the past I used 2′ lengths of 1/4″ rebar, or 2′ pieces of PVC that I found lying about). A single post about 6-7′ long stuck in the middle bed and attached at the peak of the arch to the panel keeps it from “flopping” around in the wind.

  11. Mary Farrell says:

    Where do you find reasonably priced bamboo stakes? Earlier this spring I tried one of the big box stores and what was billed as bamboo was actually plastic molded to look like bamboo. Each stake was seveal dollars in price.

    • Jenn Whiddon says:

      home depot sells packages of 8count 6 ft stakes for 3.50 or so and big lots sells a variety of packs that come in differing sizes and counts for around $2 to $6 . you can check their ad online, it changes weekly

  12. I have always wondered how you pick peas that grow on the inside of the chicken wire a-frame. How do you reach them? How do you even see them? I would love to know!

  13. Beatrice Bacon says:

    Our garden is 60×50. We fenced the whole garden partly with wire fence and cow panels. The wire fence I got at the landfill for free. The cow panel I found at our property. I used the fence and cow panel for beans, some of my cucumber and melons. Also I used old picked fence panels for my cucumber. For the peas, I used 3 T-posted and chicken wire. This method is holding up close to 3 years now.
    Check with your landfill, craiglist, flea market or yard sales for inexpensive trellis.

  14. Mary, I don’t know where you live, but if it’s anywhere near Garland Texas, you can get all the bamboo you want by going down to Coomer Creek as it grows wild there. I’ve also noticed bamboo groves all over Garland in the various flood plains in our city–public property which is owned by the city. Bamboo grows wild all over the USA. It is not limited to tropical climates. It even grows in Canada. Like Hemp, we should also be planting and growing bamboo as both plants have many uses and both grow very very fast. I get all my bamboo stakes down by the creek for free.