Using trellises in a raised bed vegetable garden is one of the best ways to maximize production. Growing vertical vegetables like pole beans, peas, indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons on trellises not only allows you to fit more plants into your garden but it can also reduce insect and disease issues. I use different types of trellises in my raised beds with some permanently attached to the beds and others temporary structures. Keep reading for plenty of ideas for a raised garden bed with trellis.
What is a trellis?
A trellis is a vertical plant support that can be temporary or permanent. You can buy or DIY a trellis. There are many advantages of trellis gardening in a raised bed garden. Growing vegetables vertically is a great way to maximize garden space and boost production, especially in smaller space or urban gardens. For example, growing vining cucumbers on the ground takes up a lot of space which leaves less room for other crops. Adding a trellis to a raised bed gives the cucumber plants a structure to climb and leaves the majority of the bed free for other vegetables.
Using a raised garden bed with trellis can also reduce disease issues by improving air flow around the plants and helping the foliage dry quicker after a rain. Having vegetables off the ground and on a trellis means you can keep a closer eye on the plants to monitor for pests like cucumber beetles or aphids. Plus, it’s also easier to harvest trellised crops – there’s no need to bend or stoop to pick your vegetables.
Selecting a trellis for a raised bed
Use a trellis in any type of raised garden bed: wood-edged beds, galvanized beds, elevated planters, and so on. Keep in mind, however, that the type of raised bed can determine the type of trellis. For example, it’s more difficult to add a permanent trellis to a galvanized raised bed than a wood-edged raised bed. With my wooden raised beds I have several types of trellises permanently attached to the sides or backs of my beds. I installed them when I built the beds, securing them to the bed boards with screws or nails. I inspect my trellises annually and they are repaired or replaced as needed.
When selecting a trellis for a raised bed you should also consider the sorts of vegetables you wish to grow. A lightweight wire A-frame trellis is fine for pole beans and cucamelons, but likely can’t support the weight of squash or melon vines. Match the trellis to the crop. If you know you’re going to want to grow a variety of vertical vegetables on your trellis, opt for a strong structure.
Types of trellises for raised garden beds
There are many types of trellises perfect for raised bed gardening. In my own raised bed vegetable garden I use A-frame, arch, and rectangular trellises to grow vegetables like pole beans, peas, melons, indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, and vining varieties of squash. Below you’ll find details on 5 types of trellises for a raised bed vegetable garden.
I love A-frame trellises. They’re strong, easy to DIY (but you can also buy them from garden supply stores), and offer space beneath where you can grow shade-tolerant greens like spinach or mizuna. To use an A-frame trellis in a raised bed, set it up in spring before planting seeds or seedlings. At the end of the growing season take down these temporary trellises and store them for winter.
Wire panel trellis
It’s quick and easy to build a wire panel trellis on the north side of a raised garden bed. In fact, I have a line of these trellises running along the entire back of my garden allowing me to grow plenty of vertical crops. I use 4 by 8 foot sheets of metal mesh, but you can also use cattle panels. These are mounted to wooden stakes screwed into the backs of my beds. I then use zip ties to secure the wire mesh panels to the wooden stakes.
An arch trellis, or garden tunnel, is a whimsical, but practical structure. I have mine set up between my wooden raised beds. I use wood strapping to screw the bottoms of the wire mesh or cattle panels to the boards of my beds. These are strong trellises perfect for pole beans, cucumbers, and other vining vegetables. You can also purchase arch trellises for temporary vertical support.
A string trellis is a wooden or metal frame with lengths of twine or string that run through eye hooks. The frame supplies the strength and the twine supports the climbing crops. You could also hang garden netting from hooks instead of using twine. This is a permanent type of structure that lasts for many years. That said, the twine or string won’t last as long as the wooden frame and is best replaced each spring.
Like A-frame trellises, ladder trellises are temporary structures put up in spring. They are functional and decorative and made from metal or wood. I’ve used them for supporting indeterminate tomatoes, vining cucumbers, and miniature pumpkins in raised garden boxes.
When to add a trellis to a raised garden bed
The best time to add a trellis to a raised garden bed is before you plant. If you wait until the plants are actively growing it’s harder to do and you risk damaging the foliage or roots of the plants. Install both temporary and permanent trellises before planting. I store temporary trellises in my garden shed over winter and bring them back into the garden in spring, just before I’m ready to plant.
Where to place the trellis on a raised garden bed
When building a permanent raised bed with trellis consider light exposure. If you place a trellis along the south side of the bed, the trellis and growing crops block light from the other vegetables in the bed. Instead, site a trellis along the north side of the bed so that it runs east to west. Set temporary trellises up at the north end of a bed to avoid blocking light from the rest of the garden.
How do you attach a trellis to a raised garden bed
Short term structures like an A-frame trellis are not attached to the frame of a raised bed and once the crop has been harvested they are taken down and stored. When placing a temporary trellis in a raised bed be sure to push the supports far down into the soil to anchor the structure. You don’t want it blowing over and crushing or damaging the plants.
Permanent structures like arch or wire panel trellises are left in the garden year round. They need to be securely fastened to the outside of raised wooden beds using nails or screws. My wire panel trellises run the length of my 8 foot long beds so the trellis is 8 feet long and 4 feet tall. I use three wooden supports to hold each wire mesh panel. I secure each wooden support to the back of a bed with three 4 inch long lag screws. Once the three wooden supports are in place, the wire panel is zip tied to the wooden supports.
My arch trellises run between my raised beds creating a long tunnel. I secure the bottom of each wire mesh panel to my beds with wooden strapping and 3 inch screws. I zip tie the tops of the panels together to form the arch shape of the trellis.
The best vegetables to grow in a raised garden bed with trellis
I grow many types of vegetables vertically. Certain types, like pole beans, peas, and cucumbers climb the trellis using tendrils or by twining around the supports. Others, like indeterminate tomatoes aren’t natural climbers and I tie the plants to the trellis throughout the growing season. When selecting vegetable varieties for your raised garden bed with trellis be sure to read the descriptions carefully. They should be vining, not bush varieties to ensure they will climb the trellis. I also like to include vining annual flowers to grow vertically with my vegetable plants. Easy vining annuals include climbing nasturtiums and morning glories.
6 vegetables to grow in a raised garden bed with trellis
- Pole beans – Pole beans, like Emerite, are vigorous, productive, and delicious. I grow a rainbow of pole beans on arch trellises and wire mesh trellises.
- Peas – Crisp sweet peas are a garden treat and I love growing tall types up my wire mesh trellises. My go-to pea is Sugar Snap which grows up to 7 feet tall. Most peas benefit from a trellis and there are snap, shell, and snow types available from seed catalogs.
- Cucumbers – Cucumber plants can take up a lot of garden space which is why I love growing them on a trellis. Look for vining varieties like Lemon, Suyo Long, and Lisboa which quickly cover a trellis and yield a heavy crop of crisp cucumbers.
- Indeterminate tomatoes – Often called vining tomatoes, indeterminate varieties can grow up to 7 feet tall and produce a crop over a long season. I tie the fresh growth of indeterminate tomatoes to their trellis every 7 to 10 days with garden twine.
- Squash and pumpkins – Like cucumbers squash and pumpkin plants may be bush or vining. For a raised bed trellis choose vining varieties like Zucchetta Trombolina zucchini, Cucuzzi Italian summer squash, or Baby Boo pumpkins. The fruits of large-fruited varieties may need additional support when grown on a trellis. Add slings to accommodate the weight of the growing fruits.
- Melons – Small fruited watermelons and muskmelons are also a good crop to grow on a trellis. I often grow Carosello melons, a type of muskmelon, on string or wire trellises. If growing small-fruited watermelons vertically I recommend slinging the fruits to support their weight.
For more information on vertical gardening be sure to check out these articles:
- How to build a DIY cattle panel garden arch
- Cucumber trellis ideas and tips
- The best vegetables for a trellis
- Vertical vegetable gardening on pole bean tunnels
Are you interested in a raised garden bed with trellis?