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Inexpensive DIY Vegetable Trellis


My kitchen garden is small—just under 200 square feet—but I managed to cram a ton of vegetables into it by growing summer and winter squash, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, and peas up trellises. Growing these crops up instead of out frees up a bunch of real estate in our raised beds for beets, carrots, salad greens, flowers, and herbs.

We install a lot of freestanding trellises made out of bamboo and cedar, but last summer we decided to convert our west-facing, 6-foot tall fence into a growing space by installing panels of welded wire mesh on it. The mesh is sold at hardware stores for concrete reinforcing. We bought mesh with four-inch square holes and each 4-foot by 6-foot piece cost less than five dollars. The grand total for this super functional trellis? Fifteen bucks.


Jon installed the panels on the fence by stapling them to the horizontal and vertical fence posts with sturdy ½ inch staples. It took him less than half an hour and was totally worth the time. I planted pole beans underneath each horizontalvertical wire and it was the perfect spacing. The beans filled in quickly—disguising our boring fence—and they loved soaking up all the hot afternoon sun. We also inadvertently grew a butternut squash up the trellis because it jumped off its teepee, scrambled up the wire, and eventually grew over the fence and onto our front lawn!

A pair of butternut squash

This weekend, I’m going to plant English peas up the fence trellis. When the peas finish producing in June, I’ll yank them out and grow ‘Satsuki Madori’ cucumbers in their place. Yum!

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45 Responses to “Inexpensive DIY Vegetable Trellis”

  1. 1
    Andres Says:

    Great idea. I love the pictures. I think I am going to go try using that welded wire mesh to create supports for my tomatoes as well as for my cucumbers and zucchini.

  2. 2
    Nicole Says:

    I remember you once talking about a DIY squash ladder to help save space. Can you share that info again, please!?

  3. 3
    Denise Says:

    Great idea! I’ve just added a few items to my hardware store list. Thanks, Willi. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. 4
    la marquise des anges Says:

    what a lovely idea !!! I will definitely follow your advice. I noted your vegetables recommandations. I will see what can be the best to grow here … I want to roll over my production . I have a whole wall I could use right in my garden sqare. this wall is quite ugly . it will be both useful then pretty !!!

    really a wonderful idea. I promise to take pictures …

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog.

    sabine (south of France)

  5. 5
    Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    Productive and beautiful, now that’s my kind of vegetable gardening. I may get HH started on another project.~~Dee

  6. 6
    Jessica Says:

    Great idea! The dirt near our back fence is really lacking so I’m going to have to get my compost on! We have a some wire leftover from the little cages we made for our new seedlings (we have to protect them from our neighborhood crows) so I may be able to do this with materials we have on hand.

  7. 7
    Melanie Grube Says:

    Great idea with the wire, I’ve been looking for something more substantial and this is it.
    2 questions:
    1) you said you planted beans under each ‘horizontal wire’. How could you do that? Wouldn’t you be planting under each vertical wire and the beans would grow up the vertical wire? Perhaps I don’t understand about the wire.

    2) Is rust from the welded wire discoloring your fence? If no, how did you avoid it? If yes, do you suppose a standoff of 1 inch (wood strips attached to fence, wire attached to strips, not directly to fence) would be sufficient to avoid staining the fence?

    Thanks a lot for posting your innovation, this is very clever and inexpensive, give yourself a pat on the back. I’ve been struggling with various trellis options and this looks like the one that will work, if I understand about the horizontal vs. vertical planting.

    Melanie, Seattle

  8. 8
    Willi Says:

    Melanie–Good catch. I totally meant vertical wires! The rust is not staining our fence, but if that is a concern, you could either use galvanized wire or your idea of using wood strips would work well, too.

    Jessica–The soil under our fence wasn’t great either, so I just dug in about four inches of compost before planting and the beans did great!

    I’m glad everyone liked the idea! I think that I originally saw something similar in Sunset…we use the wire mesh for tomato cages too!

  9. 9
    laura Says:

    Thank you for posting about this. I have shown my husband (the handier of the two of us) so many ideas from your garden.

  10. 10
    Rachel Says:

    Willi, I love your blog, and I love listening to you on KUOW!

    This trellis of yours reminds me of an idea I had for growing tomatoes and cucumbers in a bed that is at the top of a 4-foot tall concrete-block retaining wall — I thought, if I could install some wire mesh like what you’re using for this fence, maybe with a bit of space between, perhaps the tomatoes and cucumbers would like to trail down the wall, where they would have very nice heat for ripening. (Can’t plant them to climb up the wall because of a concrete slab at the bottom of the wall, unless I put them in containers.) I was thinking that the trellis would hold the foliage a bit away from the concrete block, which can get quite hot during the summer. Do you think the plants would like it?

    Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide, and thanks for all your great ideas and beautiful pictures!

  11. 11
    Alan Says:

    Good recycling idea. any old wire mesh/fencing should do. Try chicken wire?

  12. 12
    anne Says:

    We did this last year on two walls which corner the veggie garden and got so much good stuff! I had two kinds of beans, Italian pole beans was one of them, can’t remember the other. Plus sugar snap peas. So good! I’d pick enough every night for dinner and then go back and find more the next day. The little buggers are good at hiding!

  13. 13
    Kathleen Says:

    Chicken wire would be a better idea…welded wire usually contains lead (in the welds).

    But what a good looking garden!

  14. 14
    Inexpensive Vegetable Trellis Grows Vegetables In Small Spaces | Lifehacker Australia Says:

    [...] way to squeeze out enough space to grow your favourite veggies? Sound off in the comments below. Inexpensive DIY Vegetable Trellis [via TipNut] [...]

  15. 15
    keewee Says:

    Last year I grew a Hubbard squash up the wire fence, surrounding my veggie garden.Sadly our summer was too short, so the squash never did quite mature.

  16. 16
    jamie Says:

    We have actually been looking at various wire fencing materials for a while to do something like this, so I really appreciate the pointer to this specific material. Awesome! We put up our version over the weekend with the addition of long eye-hooks to space the mesh out from the fence another couple of inches so that our peas will have a bit more room to breathe.

  17. 17
    Front Yard Gardening « The Urban Garden Project Says:

    [...] a hardware store or building supply store used to provide structure to concrete.  Willi over at has used this method to grow her vine crops.  Gardeners who have chain link fencing in their yard [...]

  18. 18
    Willi Says:

    Jamie—Eye hooks are a great idea! Smart thinking…

    Rachel–I think that plants would love growing down the mesh. The heat from the blocks would really make them happy. I’m not sure how well the tomatoes would tumble down the wall, but it is worth a shot! The cucumbers would for sure scramble down.

  19. 19
    Budget DIY Trellis & Garden Space Tip : Says:

    [...] Trellis Idea By digginfood.comToday’s feature is from Diggin Food with this idea for an Inexpensive DIY Vegetable Trellis: My kitchen garden is small—just under 200 square feet—but I managed to cram a ton of [...]

  20. 20
    samwyse Says:

    Kathleen — Are you sure about that? Most solder is a lead-tin alloy, but I don’t think that it’s used much in welding. Welding rods are made with manganese and there are some ongoing lawsuits about exposure to the fumes, but it should be extremely safe for everyday uses like this.

  21. 21
    Julia Janzen Says:

    FABOOOO idea! I am so going to do this on our fence! I have one that gets no morning sun but bakes in the afternoon and one that pretty much is shaded all day and just gets indirect light. Now to figure out the perfect plants. Ideas?


  22. 22
    Willi Says:

    Julia–I’m excited that you’re going to try this in your garden. Any vegetable should grow well in the spot that gets afternoon sun. As for the shadier area, a vine would do better. Maybe a deciduous climbing hydrangea?

    Sam–Thanks for the info on the solder. I don’t know anything about it!

  23. 23
    Julia Janzen Says:

    Thanks for the hydrangea idea Willi! I love hydrangeas and didn’t know there even was a climbing variety. I’m going to look them up right now.

  24. 24
    Melanie Grube Says:

    RE: Chicken wire and lead
    Last year I tried chicken wire for peas, but the openings were too small to put my hand through for picking. The peas get caught in the wire when young and become distorted as they mature, and since you cannot reach through to pick you must pick both sides of the wire. My 2 rows were too close together to walk between, so I had to contort my body into strange positions to pick all the peas, (looked like a solo game of twister), and I never could get all of the peas. From now on I’m only using wire with opening large enough to put my hand through.

    I agree with Sam: solder is soft and some do contain lead, but the welding process uses very high heat where lead would be too soft, so for the garden welded steel wire is safer than soldered wire cloth. Chicken wire is woven (actually braided), so it is the safest of the ‘wire cloth’ options, but I don’t recommend it for the reasons I listed above. However, for the winter holidays I wrap those round tomato supports with chicken wire, spiral wrap small lights over that, and turned upside down it looks like a tree.


  25. 25
    Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. Says:

    Great idea! yes, the fences look boring otherwise. Your yard looks so gorgeous.

  26. 26
    Annapet Says:

    What a wonderful blog! I am growing butternut squash for the very first time, and wanted to see it’s growth habit. Thank you for sharing photos and ideas. I will probably have these babies (just sprouted) climb the deck railing.

  27. 27
    CatKnitz Says:

    Great idea. Since I live in the Seattle area, could you tell me which hardware store you purchased the welded wire mesh from? Thanks! I often listen to you on KUOW, you and the others are full of fabulous ideas.

  28. 28
    Willi Says:

    CatNitz–Glad you like the idea! We got the mesh at Home Depot.

  29. 29
    Garden Sprouts (quick posts from other sites) – June 29, 2009 | Gardening on the Moon ( GOTM ) Says:

    [...] [...]

  30. 30
    Super Simple Squash Trellis | DigginFood Says:

    [...] off a rockery or out of a large container. This year, I’m growing ‘Trombetta’ up my fence trellis and onto a wrought iron obelisk. If you haven’t grown it before, be sure to put this squash on [...]

  31. 31
    val Says:

    I have been growing my cucumbers on a wood lattice fence or trellis for years I get real good yield out of them and it gives my cooler weather liking plants much needed shade!

  32. 32
    Sue Says:

    Pvc pipe is loads much cheaper than wood, and doesn’t rot. Secured at bottom with clamps to railroad ties, use chicken wire and attach to poles for fillspace in between. For peppers of any sort,plant from seed in concrete blocks,turned hole sides up; fill with mulch and good garden soil. Does take more water,however abundance is such that you will have great crops. Doing it this way much easier on bending, let alone few if no weeds at all. Use huge plastic laundry baskets,ie the sort with rope ties, for planting cucumbers,and eggplants…for them to grow upwards, use pvc pipe tied in teepee style..again abundance plentiful. At season’s end, containers are emptied,cleaned and stored inside for next season. Dirt from containers is used with mulch on regular garden plot. Us older gardeners like to keep the garden simple,let alone like using little care for plentiful harvests. To prevent weeds in between garden plot veggies, use up those newspapers,tear strip, (preferably non colored)
    to get weeds contained until plants surface enough to do so on their own. This works magically for bean patches,cabbage patches,corn patches, and the like. Wood posts rot, and can bring about bugs you don’t want in your garden. Opt instead for materials which endure,lend good looks to your garden, and cost little. Thanx.

  33. 33
    Pea Trellis Ideas | DigginFood Says:

    [...] shelling pea and snow peas, both of which will need a trellis. Last year I grew my peas up my fence trellis, but there are a ton of ways to trellis peas. I did a little searching online to see what other [...]

  34. 34
    Linda Says:

    Thankyou,thankyou,thankyou! What a great and informative article and the pectures are great too. This will be my second year attempting to really put out a garden in Arkansas.I will surely be trying some of these ideas.

  35. 35
    Anita Says:

    Can shelling peas trail down a retaining wall? We have a rock retaining wall in the front of our house with some plantings in it, and I have some space at the top to plant peas. Will they grow hanging down? The area faces the west and gets great sun.

  36. 36
    Willi Says:

    Anita–I’ve seen wild sweet peas grow down a retaining wall, so I’d say it is worth a shot. The worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t work, but I bet it will!
    .-= Willi´s last blog ..Love It: Australian Yellow Leaf Lettuce =-.

  37. 37
    Vegetable Trellis Round Up | DigginFood Says:

    [...] trellis is simply welded wire mesh stapled to a fence. I’ve grown beans, peas, butternut squash, and ‘Trombetta’ [...]

  38. 38
    Thinking of Gardens « Oddments and Endments Says:

    [...] via Andrea on [...]

  39. 39
    building a garden bed…it begins | northofseven Says:

    [...] on top of the garden bed, where I hope to grow beans and cucumbers in an upward manor. As shown on digginfood who used a simple wire fence that you can get in cement aisle of your local Home [...]

  40. 40
    DIY Trellis | northofseven Says:

    [...] money for the basement renovation fund” took priority. In which case, back we went to digginfood‘s great idea of using wire mesh to do a very inexpensive trellis [...]

  41. 41
    Raised Beds With Trellis | Foodarian Says:

    [...] shelling pea and snow peas, both of which will need a trellis. Last year I grew my peas up my fence trellis, but there are a ton of ways to trellis peas. I did a little searching online to see what other [...]

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    DIY Trellis : northstory Says:

    [...] money for the basement renovation fund” took priority. In which case, back we went to digginfood‘s great idea of using wire mesh to do a very inexpensive trellis [...]

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