Looking for creative pole bean support ideas? You’ve come to the right place! Pole beans are notorious for their prolific yields, but the vines grow vigorously and need something sturdy to climb. Before you start planting your bean seeds, it’s essential that you have a support plan in place for these climbing vines. In this article, I’ll share some of the best bean trellis, teepee, arch, and support structures, including cheap and free upcycling and DIY options.
Why use pole bean supports
Before we dive into these unique pole bean support ideas, I’d like to share some of the main reasons why providing a climbing structure for pole beans is important.
Unlike bush beans, which are bred to be small in stature, pole beans grow up to 10 feet in height. If you provide them with full sun and healthy soil, their stems naturally twist and twine around stakes and other support structures. Providing a sturdy structure for them to climb is essential for several additional reasons beyond supporting the plants’ natural growth habit.
- Growing pole beans vertically reduces the incidence of fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and bean rust because it improves air circulation around the plants.
- Vertical growing can limit damage from ground-dwelling plant pests, like slugs. It also makes it easier for the gardener to spot foliage-eating pests like Mexican bean beetles because they will be closer to eye level. Hand-picking these pests is easier when you can stand upright.
- When vines are grown vertically, harvests are so easy. There’s no bending required to harvest the pods. Plus, it’s easier to see when they’re large enough for picking.
- Growing pole beans up a support structure also maximizes your available growing space. It’s easy to grow other vegetables and herbs, such as cabbage, basil, and root crops around the base of the vines. Covering the soil’s surface by interplanting in layers shades the soil, which helps retain soil moisture and stabilize the soil temperature. It also reduces competition from weeds.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the reasons to use pole bean supports, let’s meet some of the best commercially manufactured and DIY pole bean support ideas you can use in your garden.
Commercially made pole bean support ideas
There are many companies that manufacture structures to support bean plants. Admittedly, some are sturdier than others, but the options are pretty much endless.
Here are some traits to look for in a commercially made pole bean trellis or green bean teepee if you opt to buy one:
- Look for supports that can be anchored deeply into the soil (a 10-foot-tall “curtain” of bean vines is heavy!).
- Choose one that is made out of a long-lasting material that will not rust, become brittle, or degrade with age. Remember, you want something you can use for many years, not just one season.
- Avoid structures that might contain chemicals of any sort (treated wood, for example) or be unable to withstand outdoor weather conditions without fading or cracking.
Make sure the manufacturer guarantees their product and is a reliable company that fulfills each of the purchases that are made through their website or catalog.
Options for commercially made pole bean supports that I have personally used and found effective over the years include:
- This fence tunnel support from Gardener’s Supply Company
- Nylon or monofilament garden net strung between sturdy poles
- This elegant garden tower set up
DIY pole bean support ideas
If you prefer to save money and DIY your bean support system, there are so many options. Really, your own creativity is the biggest limit. Just be sure the structure is sturdy and be sure to erect it in the garden long before your green beans are ready to twine and climb. Let me share my favorite DIY pole bean support ideas.
1. Cattle panel trellis for pole beans
I’ve written about cattle panel trellises on the site before, including instructions on how to build them. These arches are great for growing not only pole beans, but also cucumbers, squash, peas, and other vining vegetables. I sow a double row of seeds along each side of the arch, maximizing my space even more.
2. A-frame pole bean structure
Creating an A frame structure is a common practice for supporting tomatoes, but they work perfectly for pole beans, too. You’ll need to create an A-shaped wooden or metal frame and then cover it with chicken wire fencing, boxwire fencing, or even garden netting.
One of my favorite bonuses of using an A-frame trellis for pole beans is the shade that’s created beneath the vine-covered frame. In the hot summer months, this shady nook is perfect for growing heat-tolerant varieties of lettuce, allowing you to harvest lettuces even in the height of summer.
3. Bamboo for pole bean support
Bamboo poles can be a part of many different pole bean support ideas in the vegetable garden. You can:
- Fasten together the tops of the poles and then spread the base of the poles out into a circle to create a cone-shaped teepee trellis. Bean teepees are a great hiding spot for kids!
- Build a tall, ladder-like climbing structure out of the poles.
- Lash bamboo poles together to make an elongated A-frame trellis down the length of a row.
- Insert the poles into the ground at an angle and lean their tops up against a shed or fence to create a leaning wall of beans.
- Insert thicker bamboo poles at each end of a row of pole beans and then lash a pole across the top to connect them together. Then run lines of twine from the top horizontal pole down to the ground. Plant a bean seed at the base of each piece of twine.
If you are going to create a DIY bamboo bean trellis or teepee, make sure you are buying thick, sturdy, long bamboo pieces like these, not the wimpy ones used for staking single plants.
4. Growing pole beans up twine
In addition to the idea mentioned above that uses twine and bamboo poles to create a support for pole beans, there are other ways to use twine. I know a gardener who runs lengths of twine back and forth from the base of the gutter on their garage down to a wooden 4 x 4 that is laying on its side on the ground parallel to the garage wall. The beans are planted in front of the 4 x 4 and trained to climb the twine up to the garage gutter. He fronts it with a row of marigold in hopes that they’ll keep the critters away. The bean vines help shade the garage and make a beautiful living wall.
The only downside to using twine in your pole bean support ideas is that if you choose a biodegradable type (like jute or hemp), you can really only use it for one year before you have to toss it onto the compost pile. But if you use a synthetic twine (like nylon), it will eventually have to go to the landfill. Even if it’s after several years of use, it’s still not a very eco-friendly option.
5. Upcycled pole bean support ideas
There are so many items you can upcycle into pole bean supports! In my garden, I have two old metal closet organizers that I’ve converted into pole bean trellises (see photo below). I spray paint them a fun color every few years and I run strings from the top to the bottom along all four sides to give the vines something to twine around. In the spring, I grow snap peas up them. Once those are finished and pulled, pole beans go in their place.
I also have seen an old bare mattress spring positioned up on end to be used as a pole bean support. Old bicycle tire rims make fun pole bean supports, too. You can fasten one to the top of a straight pole (or piece of metal conduit) and then run strings from the outer circle of the rim down to the ground, planting a bean seed at the base of each string.
If your pole bean support ideas involve upcycled objects, just be sure to avoid items that are potentially covered in lead paint, such as old ladders.
6. Wooden pole bean support trellises and towers
If you have some handyman skills or are willing to learn, build towers or obelisks out of wood to support your beans. Whether they’re rectangular, pyramidal, or cone-shaped, wooden structures look classier and more elegant than some other DIY options. Plus, most of the time, they’ll last for many years. I love growing Scarlet Runner beans up the wooden obelisk in my garden. Even when it’s not in bloom or producing pods, the foliage looks lovely against the wood.
7. Living trellis for pole beans
Gardeners can also opt to go with a living trellis to support their pole beans. In the traditional Native American planting technique known as Three Sisters Planting, corn plants are used to support the climbing vines (Kentucky Wonder beans are a perfect candidate!). But any tall plant with a sturdy growth habit and strong upright stems or canes would work. I’ve grown pole beans up broom corn, Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, sunflowers, and even amaranth. They make great companion plants, too, because in addition to providing structure, many also support pollinators.
Container pole bean support ideas
If you grow in containers, providing pole bean supports here is important, too. Simple bamboo teepees erected over the pot will work. Or you can get fancy and build a wooden tower or purchase a manufactured trellis made just for container growing.
It’s time to grow up!
A few last tips for successful pole bean growing:
- Don’t plant bean seeds until the danger of frost has passed. They are warm-weather crops.
- Fertilizing a few times a year is essential for providing nutrients to your plants, just don’t give them too much nitrogen or you could end up with all foliage and no flowers or fresh pods.
- Mulch your pole beans with straw, shredded leaves, or another natural product. It will reduce watering and weeding needs all season long.
I hope you found a few pole bean support ideas you can use in your garden. Get creative and grow up!
For more on successful bean growing:
- What to do when your bean leaves turn yellow
- Advice for growing green beans
- How to grow black beans
- Lima bean growing how-to
- How to DIY a cattle panel trellis
Pin this article to your garden projects board for later reference.