Level Up Your Kitchen Garden With an Arch Trellis
Where'd you get that arch trellis?
That arch trellis is incredible!
Would love to know where I can order that arch trellis!
Trellises are one of my favorite elements in the kitchen garden, and judging by the questions regarding where the arch trellises can be purchased in the comment section, most people share my love.
Why It's Important to Add Trellises to Your Kitchen Garden
Here are my top three reasons to add trellises to your garden.
One: Trellises give vining plants the space they need
Some edible plants have vines that need to climb in order to fruit and produce; 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 (on a trellis) 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 while attached to the garden trellis.
Overall, arch trellises provide the most space for large vining plants to grow.
Two: Trellises maximize production
Additionally, garden trellises make it possible to get the best production out of our gardens, with vining plants growing up and smaller plants growing along 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.
Three: trellises are beautiful
Trellises aren't just functional, they're also beautiful, even when they're not draped in greenery. In fact, my favorite reason to use a garden trellis is because of its visual appeal.
If a trellis mirrors the architectural style of the house, even better. That helps to create harmony and a sense of peace between the house and the garden.
Of the three types of trellises (obelisk, panel, and arch), arch trellises are, in my opinion, the most beautiful option when covered in plant mass. They can also be used to create enchanting entrances to your garden space.
Why We 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 bean trellises with bamboo and twine.
And while this was great exercise, it honestly didn't work that well for me in the vegetable garden. My tomatoes quickly overgrew my tomato cages and were impossible to prune or harvest from inside their "cage". Meanwhile, my bamboo pole trellises soon fell over under the weight of all those bean vines.
Metal provides a much sturdier support structure, the kind that your more ambitious climbing plants crave in order to reach their fullest potential in the garden.
The trellises in the Gardenary Shop are made of powder-coated steel, which is extremely durable and weather resistant. You'll get to enjoy your trellises in your garden for decades to come (as opposed to the season or two that DIY trellises tend to last).
Three Types of Kitchen Garden Trellises
The three types of trellises we use at Rooted Garden and Gardenary are panel, obelisk, and arch trellises.
In this article, I'll focus on arch trellises exclusively, as they're usually the most appealing—and for good reason. There's no better way to create the feeling that you're inside a special place, your own relaxing enclosure, when you're stepping into your 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?
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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 a panel or an obelisk would most likely be best. However, I have designed a few kitchen gardens with arch trellises even when placed against a fence (like the garden trio below).
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.
Arches are such a visually impactful way to connect two raised beds. You can even create a special entrance to your kitchen garden. Every time you walk underneath this plant-covered tunnel, you'll have the feeling of getting away, of stepping through a portal into your own little oasis, even though you're right inside your backyard.
(Learn more about the best type of trellis for your kitchen garden.)
How to Select 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 and all of its elements to the home and make the garden seem like it's always been there.
In the picture below, the graceful swirls of the custom-made trellis enhance the beauty of the Spanish Colonial home.
What to Measure Before Selecting an Arch Trellis
Before purchasing anything, keep two measurements in mind.
The Best Height for your arch trellis
One, be aware how high you'd like to reach while tending and harvesting.
The height of your raised bed doesn't really need to be considered because you'll likely need to bury the trellis the full depth of the raised bed to secure it in place. That means the high point of a trellis that's 6 feet tall will still be 6 feet off the ground once installed.
The Best Width for your arch trellis
The second measurement to consider is how wide you need the span of the arch to be. Arch trellises are typically between 60 and 80 inches wide.
Make sure to pay attention to whether the sides of the arch trellis you're eyeing have any kind of curve to them. Most arches have straight sides that only close inward at the very top (like the Nicole Arch Trellises pictured above).
Our bestselling trellis, the Modern Arch Trellis, actually has curved sides. You can see the convex shape in the picture below.
The very first time I ordered this trellis for an installation at a client's house, I didn't take this into consideration. So, the beds were already installed, leveled, and partially filled when the trellis arrived. It wasn't until my team and I tried to place the trellis on the inside edges of two raised beds so that it would span the pathway between the two that we realized the very bottom of the trellis curves inward sharply.
The beds were too far apart—the trellis wouldn't fit!
I had only accounted for the trellis at its widest point. Fortunately, one of my guys was able to saw off the bottom of the trellis so that we didn't have to start the installation all over again. The trellis now fit the space... It was just a foot shorter.
These two measurements—the height and the width—will influence the arch trellises that will fit in your space and 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.
How to Install an Arch Trellis
Once you've purchased or built your own arch trellis, it's time to install it. This will be a two-person job.
If at all possible, I recommend installing your arch trellis before you add 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.
Below, you can see my arch trellises on the installation day of my Chicago kitchen garden. The raised beds are 2ft-deep, and we went ahead and set the arches on the ground. Once we filled the beds with soil, the trellises were super secure.
Shop This Trellis
I got so many questions about my trellises over the years, that I've been hard at work trying to figure out a way to ship a version right to you. The Nicole Trellis is finally ready!
My arches were made custom years ago back in Houston, but we've created a trellis kit version. It assembles with just a few strong pieces that connect without tools. The result is the same stunning arch trellis I've used in my own kitchen garden.
If you're installing arch trellises outside of raised beds, make sure to use stakes for extra security since these structures won't have as much soil around the bases to hold them in place.
Warning: vining plants get heavy on these trellises. Do the worst first, I always say. Taking the time to fully secure these trellises at the outset of your kitchen garden installation will save you the heartache of an overturned arch trellis after a strong storm.
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. Then, you'll place the trellis and its adjoining stakes, if included, and backfill all the way to the top of the raised garden bed with soil. This is to, again, make sure 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 arch trellises look even more beautiful when they're 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, and when the weather warms a bit more, plant your trellis with runner beans. If you'd rather grow flowers, 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 cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or pole beans. Flower options include climbing nasturtium, passion vine, and hyacinth bean. My favorite plants to grow on my arch trellises are cherry tomatoes. Check out our guide to planting and pruning tomatoes so that they'll look stunning on your arch trellis.
In the Hot Season:
Plant your arch trellis with tomatillos, asparagus beans, Armenian cucumbers, or luffa gourds. For flowers, your best bets are passion vine and coral vine.
Shop This Trellis
The Modern Arch Trellis is by far our most popular trellis. It adds elegance to all styles of gardens.
Which Arch Trellis Is Your Favorite?
Arch trellises are a great way to level up your kitchen garden. They're so beautiful but also functional—I just can't get enough.
For more arch trellis options, check out our trellis ideas list on Amazon.
I can't wait to see which arch trellis you pick and what you grow up your own in your kitchen garden this year!
Learn how to design and build your very own kitchen garden, complete with trellises and raised beds, in our popular online program Kitchen Garden Academy.