Nothing completes a raised bed garden like a trellis. Not only are they whimsical-looking and an easy DIY project, but they’re also extremely practical. Turn one into a raised bed trellis and you have the perfect setup for backyard gardening!
DIY trellises are a great idea for any garden, especially since they’re so customizable. You can make one with just a couple of stakes and some chicken wire. Alternately, you can go all out and build one out of wood. The choice is up to you… we’re just here to give you the information you need!
So let’s start with one of the most basic questions: why you need one of these in the first place. We’ll then discuss a variety of different types of trellis that are out there, as well as some helpful hints on how to DIY some of them.
Why Do You Need A Raised Bed Trellis?
The best thing about a trellis is that it maximizes space. Your plants are no longer limited to the horizontal space in the raised bed. They can now grow up! You’ll be able to grow more produce and use it to create a beautifully aesthetic garden.
You’ll need a trellis for the typical vining plants, such as beans, peas, and tomatoes. There are also lots of plants that often grow on the ground but are great climbers, such as cucumbers, winter squash, and even pumpkins. Some other plants like peppers and raspberries aren’t climbers but grow well with support.
One more plus of trellis gardening is that harvesting will be a cinch. Instead of having to bend over, most of the produce will be at your level.
A trellis can work with all types of raised beds, no matter what they’re constructed from. While we’re partial to the galvanized steel raised beds that we sell here at Epic Gardening’s store, nothing is preventing you from putting one of these to work in your DIY raised bed too!
Types of Trellis
Climbing plants will grab onto practically anything while they grow, so you can get pretty imaginative with trellises. There are many standard DIY trellis types to build, but these can be modified however you want (there are tons of free designs online). However, keep the structure of your raised bed in mind when choosing your design. Some should be attached to the beds, which is suitable for a wood build, while others should be standing in the soil. Also, consider what plants you’ll be growing so you can provide enough vertical space.
To give you a jumping-off point, here are some of the most common DIY trellis types you can use:
This is probably the most popular design out there, and for good reason. It has a long, rectangular frame that spans across an entire side of the raised garden bed. Chicken wire or cattle fencing is secured across the frame, providing a sturdy support for the vines.
The downside to this DIY trellis type is that it blocks an entire side of the bed, so you won’t be able to reach the soil as well. However, if you have a large bed, you can put the trellis across the center of it, leaving the outside edges free. So the plants don’t get in each other’s way, only plant on one of the two sides, leaving the back free.
This is similar to the rectangular design, but with a twist. Instead of fencing, you’ll use a heavy-duty string. You’ll be weaving the string in yourself, so you get to choose how large or small the grid is. You can customize the grid to best suit the plants you plan to grow. This one may take some time to put together, but you’ll see that it’s fairly easy.
String trellises only work for light plants (veggies larger than cucumbers could be too heavy). String just doesn’t give the same support as wire. It’s a good choice to use for tomatoes or peppers, but probably not winter squash.
This unique shape only takes up a small amount of space at the soil level, so it interferes less with the raised garden bed. It provides lots of growing space above the ground; this is great for plants with a central stem that splits into many vines, like passion fruit or grapes. This trellis is a great option for smaller gardening beds.
If it’s not secured well, this trellis could easily become top-heavy and fall back. It’s usually attached to one side of the beds or even a wall.
This is my favorite look for a raised bed garden, and I’m guessing it’ll be yours too. To make it, you’ll be using a long piece of wire fencing that’s bent in an arch. It can be built across an entire bed or between two beds (it’s very cool to walk under the top of the arch). You can even create a tunnel of vining plants several feet long!
DIY archway trellises provide both vertical and horizontal space above raised garden beds. You’ll have to pick your veggies on time though or some might fall on you while walking under it!
This support is just that: a wooden ladder. Each side must be set inside the raised bed. If put on the outside, it will take up way more space on the ground than the bed (we’re trying to keep it compact here!). The space between each rung is significantly larger than chicken wire, so you’ll want to use this for large vines.
Like the ladder, this DIY trellis has two sides that join together in a peak above the bed. Instead of wooden rungs though, it has chicken wire across the sides. This is a pretty sturdy design that could provide support for most plants.
Triangular string trellis
The string technique isn’t limited to rectangular frames. With this DIY design, the strings are tied vertically across an A-shaped frame. It’s great for small vines that will climb up solitary posts, like beans.
This one is cheating a little. If you have a raised bed cover, it’s super easy to attach chicken wire or string across the center. This way, you have a great 2 in 1 design!
If you’re just not in the DIY mood, you can always stick some tomato cages in the soil and call it good. This one isn’t a great long-term solution and will only provide support for smaller plants, but it does work in a pinch.
Basic DIY Trellis Ideas
We’ll go over how to build a few of these DIY trellises. The supplies to make them should be pretty cheap at a gardening store; you may be able to get some for free from fellow diy-ers. Ideally, you should time your trellis installation for before the growing season, since most trellises should be installed before planting.
DIY rectangular trellis
This may be the most basic style, but it’s still very free form. For the most sturdy kind, you’ll need to build a three-sided frame using wood. It should be the length of the bed it’ll be paired with and as tall as needed (most are several feet long). Keep in mind that if you make the frame tall and skinny, it’ll require extra support at the base so it doesn’t fall over.
Spread a length of chicken wire or cattle fencing across the frame. The fencing should only go as far down as the plant’s soil level will be. Since the frame is made of wood, it’ll be easiest to nail the fencing in place.
To install the trellis, you’ll have to attach it to the outside of the raised bed using nails or screws. You could also stick each post into the raised garden beds, though they might take up a lot of room. However, you can opt to build the frame posts from something a little thinner, like a metal fence post or PVC pipe.
DIY cover trellis
This one is super simple because it just builds onto the pieces of your raised bed cover. If your cover is built like this one, which we recommend for our raised beds, this trellis is a great idea. All it requires is wire fencing, wire clippers, and zip ties (or another related tie).
Cut a piece of fencing that will cover the space between two or more of the cover posts. Secure the fencing across the space and cut back any overhanging edges. That’s it! The trellis will be as sturdy as your cover support. Plus, you can still cover up your plants as needed.
DIY archway trellis
If you want your archway to be rigid you need a sturdy material (chicken wire won’t cut it). Cattle fencing should work fine, as will ladder-like structures that are intended for archways. To add some extra support, use T posts at the base and attach the fencing to them with zip ties, wire, or even screws.
Each side of the archway can be staked in the ground inside or outside of the gardening box. If you put the fencing on the inside, it’ll be easiest to install the trellis before filling the box with soil.