Up Level Your Kitchen Garden with an Arch Trellis
Trellises are one of my favorite elements in the kitchen garden and perhaps the one thing I get the most questions about from my Instagram posts. I'll post a photo of our newly installed kitchen gardens for Rooted Garden and most of the comments are:
"Where'd you get that arch trellis?"
"How'd you find that arch trellis?"
"Can I order that arch trellis?"
Sometimes I've wondered if I should just make arch trellises...perhaps a little simpler than being a Garden Designer and Coach...
While I'm not giving up garden coaching, after five years of arch trellis questions, I thought it was about time I write a post all about the arch trellis.
Why It's Important to Add Trellises to Your Kitchen Garden
Trellises are so helpful in the kitchen garden because some vegetables need to run and climb on a vine in order to fruit and produce; and when growing in smaller spaces or aiming to make the most of the garden space we have, it's much better to have the vines climbing up rather than out.
Trellises make it possible for vining plants like cucumbers and pole beans to grow up and vertically, leaving plenty of space, sunlight, and air flow for the veggies down below.
Vertical gardening also helps prevent mold and pests on the rambling vines, as the leaves will stay clean and dry attached to the garden trellis.
A garden trellis makes it possible to get the best production out of our gardens, with vining plants growing up and smaller plants growing in the width of our raised beds.
Instead of just having the square-footage of the horizontal space in the garden we now have available to us all that vertical space that stretches out over the the garden beds.
But trellises aren't just functional, they're also beautiful.
In fact, my favorite reason to use a garden trellis is because of its visual appeal. If a trellis repeats the architectural style of the house then it helps to create harmony and a sense of peace between the house and its garden.
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Lattice Arch Trellis II
This arch trellis is perfect for a more narrow walkway through your kitchen garden space. The traditional shape and detailing on this unit create a welcoming look to any setting, while the graphite colored finish adds a bold hint. Diagonal rods within each side panel form a diamond-shaped lattice, and a matching piece at the top completes the item.
Why Use Metal Garden Trellises
When I first started gardening, I did what just about everyone else does and purchased tomato cages and a few bamboo stakes to grow my plants vertically. I even tried to build my own tomato cages with cattle panel. And put together my own bean trellises with bamboo and twine.
And while this was great exercise, it honestly didn't work that well for me in the kitchen garden.
My tomatoes quickly overgrew my tomato cages and were impossible to prune or harvest from inside their 'cage' and my bamboo pole trellises soon fell over under the weight of all those bean vines.
So, when I started consulting with my Rooted Garden clients, I made sure to create trellises for their kitchen gardens that could stand the test of time, make it easier for them to tend their kitchen gardens and look beautiful too.
This meant I began to work exclusively with metal garden trellises.
These trellises last much longer than their wooden counterparts, they make tending vining plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and beans much more accessible, and they also provide so much beauty in the raised bed kitchen garden that they even look great when standing bare at the beginning or end of the growing season.
Three Types of Kitchen Garden Trellises
The three types of trellises we use at Rooted Garden and Gardenary are panel, obelisk, and arch.
In this article, I'll focus on arch trellises exclusively. But look for upcoming articles about obelisk and panel trellises too.
The arch trellis seems to be the most appealing of all the trellis options and for good reason.
There's no better way to create an enclosure and special feeling in your raised bed kitchen garden than by setting apart the entrance to your garden area with an arch trellis.
So how can you know which kind of trellis is right for your garden and if an arch trellis will work?
One clue to discovering which style trellis is right for your garden is to look at your garden layout.
If your kitchen garden is a border-style garden that's accessible from only one side then most likely vertical trellises are best, however I have a designed a few kitchen gardens with arch trellises even when placed against a fence. You can see an example of an arch trellis inside a Border Garden here below.
But if your kitchen garden is a set of garden boxes inside a larger design like a Twin Garden or Four Garden Classic with pathways in between, then an arch trellis is a great option.
An arch trellis will create the sense of an enclosure and a special entrance to your kitchen garden and give you the feeling of belonging in a space that's truly a getaway, even though you're right inside your backyard.
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Steps to Select an Arch Trellis
The first thing that you need to do before selecting an arch trellis is to consider the design and style of your own home.
Think through the main features and the general 'feel' of your home. This may be an easy question to answer and then again it may be something you have never considered. The goal is for your kitchen garden to compliment your home's design and that alignment can sometimes be most accentuated with an arch trellis.
Look at the distinctive features of your home including the windows, doors, columns, gates, light fixtures, and roof lines. Notice the type of metals, woods, brick and or stones that are on the exterior of your home and be mindful of the finishes of those materials.
The more you learn about your house, the more you can match your kitchen garden to it and make it seem like it's always been there.
What to Measure Before Selecting an Arch Trellis
When selecting an arch trellis, keep two measurements in mind.
One, be aware how high you'd like to reach. When looking at the height of the trellis you're considering, you'll want to also be sure to include the height of your raised bed.
The second measurement to consider is how wide you need the span of the arch to be.
These 2 measures will influence the arch trellises that will fit in your space and can help you decide if you can purchase a pre-fabricated trellis kit or if you'll need to build your own or order a custom trellis for your space.
If you're feeling artistic, it can be a fun exercise to create a rough sketch of an arch trellis design that compliments one or more of the design features of your house.
Then as you check out some of our arch trellis options or consider making your own, you'll have a picture in mind that you can work from.
Of course your budget and timeline will also influence your final decision.
In general, arch trellis kits will be less expensive than a custom fabricated trellis from a local steel artist.
And the least expensive option would be to create your own trellis with cattle panel from a farm or tractor supply store. I did a few of these when I first started Rooted Garden and it's a viable option. I would say the money you save with using the cattle panel option for your kitchen garden will well be made up with the difficulty of constructing it. Cattle panel is sturdy but can be quite a challenge to work with and to support.
So take all those factors into consideration when deciding which arch trellis option is best for your kitchen garden.
How to Install an Arch Trellis
Once you've purchased or built your own arch trellis, it's time to install it.
If at all possible, I recommend installing your arch trellis before you install soil in your raised bed kitchen garden.
This ensures that the trellis is well secured and won't move or give under the weight of all those beautiful vines it will soon be holding.
The very best way to install a trellis is to sink it into your raised bed gardens at least one foot down. If your raised garden bed is less than one foot deep, you'll want to dig into the earth at least four to six inches and secure your trellis deeper.
Many of our arch trellis garden kits come with metal stakes to help you secure them at a greater depth inside your raised garden bed.
Warning: vining plants get heavy on these trellises, so do the worst first and be sure to fully secure these trellises at the outset of your kitchen garden installation to save the heartache of an overturned or fallen arch trellis after a heavy rain storm or once the trellis is packed with vines.
If you're retro-fitting your arch trellis, I'd recommend digging out the soil in the area of the bed where you'll install the trellis, adding in your trellis and its adjoining stakes if included and then backfilling all the way to the top of the raised garden bed with soil, being certain the trellises are secure and strong. (I personally like to hang on my arch trellis a little to be sure it's secure-a perfect test and also, a little bit of fun).
What Plants to Grow on an Arch Trellis
Once you've set up your arch trellis in your raised bed kitchen garden, what should you grow there?
I have to say, arch trellises are beautiful even when they're bare in the middle of winter. But, the arch trellis looks even more beautiful when it's covered with vines, fruits and loads of flowers.
Here are a few ideas of what to plant on your own arch trellis:
In the Cool Season: Plant your arch trellis with sugar snap peas, fava beans or snow peas, when weather warms a bit more, plant your trellis with runner beans
In the Warm Season: Plant your arch trellis with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or pole beans
In the Hot Season: Plant your arch trellis with tomatillos, asparagus beans or armenian cucumbers, or luffa gourd
Want to grow flowers on your arch trellis? I love that idea.
In the Cool Season: Plant your arch trellis with sweet peas (just be sure everyone knows not to eat from these plants-they're poisonous!)
In the Warm Season: Plant your arch trellis with climbing nasturtium, passion vine or hyacinth bean
In the Hot Season: Plant your arch trellis with passion vine or coral vine
Arch trellises are a great way to up level your kitchen garden.
They're so beautiful but also so functional.
I just can't get enough.
I hope you feel inspired to set up your own arch trellis. When you do, send me a pic to email@example.com or tag me on Instagram @gardenaryco.
I can't wait to see what you grow up your own arch trellis in your kitchen garden this year.
Love from my kitchen garden to yours,
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