Tomatoes are some of the most beloved and iconic home garden vegetables out there. Cherished for their bright colors, husky aroma, easy maintenance, and versatile culinary qualities, growing tomatoes is a rite of passage for hobbyists and professionals alike. No matter where in your tomato growing endeavor you find yourself now, you’ve likely come across the matter of what supports to use for your tomato plants. If you’ve gotten his far into this post, it probably means that you’re looking for tomato trellis ideas—so we’ve got great news for you!
Keep reading to discover seven tomato trellis ideas!
Why Use a Tomato Trellis
Before diving into the following great tomato trellis ideas, let’s take a step back and think about why we need to use tomato trellises to begin with. Here are several important reasons for why using a support system for your tomatoes is actually beneficiary for your vegetable garden (from its status as a young plant, all the way to the end of each harvest season!).
- Keeping plants off the ground: this is perhaps the most obvious reason why anyone would look for tomato trellis ideas. Some tomato varieties (especially indeterminate tomatoes, but you’ll learn more about that in the next section) grow very long, droopy vines, which are absolutely incapable of keeping their lengths (and eventually, fruits) off the ground. That means that if you don’t use a support system like a trellis, these tomato plants would grow into a moist pile of vines directly on the ground—and that is not good, or healthy for the plant, at all!
- Fruit production: supports actually help tomato plants grow stronger and healthier and thus grow a bigger fruit production. By keeping the fruit off the ground, it keeps also them dry, which means less chance of rot and pests!
- Efficient use of space: this is another pretty straightforward reason. By training your tomato plants to grow upwards, as opposed to outwards and bushy, they take up much less space! You can group vertical-growing plants closer to each other without getting them in each other’s way. That means they’re also great patio or indoor plants, and don’t necessitate orchard-like space.
- Air circulation: logically, these tomato trellis ideas will help keep the tomato plant more spread out, which means that it’s easier for air to circulate between the foliage and vines. This also does wonders in terms of disease prevention, because it keeps the plant dry, and keeps away fungal diseases and other pathogens that thrive in moist environments.
- Sunlight: as you might imagine, a plant that can grow more spread out as opposed to crowded in a smaller space has a better and more complete exposure to the sun, which means that both the fruit and the foliage can draw greater benefits from this fundamental element that all plants need to live and thrive!
- Easier harvest: when it comes to bushes and trees, no matter how delicious the fruit is, it’s a pain in the butt to have to climb up ladders or stick your head into scratchy branches in order to pick your harvest. But with tomato trellises, harvesting has never been easier! Because the plant is so spread out, it doesn’t take long to spot the tomatoes among the foliage, and there’s certainly no need for ladders or special tools to pick a tomato off a vine supported by a trellis. Your knees and back will be thanking you! Plus, there’s less of a risk of leaving tomatoes behind and finding them after they’re long overripe because they’re hidden by the overcrowded leaves.
Determinate Verses Indeterminate Tomatoes
Hopefully, I’ve now inspired you to get excited about the tomato trellis ideas I have listed for you below—but first, let’s go over an important concept that you should keep in mind while thinking about the kind of support to build for your tomato plants.
While tomato care in general is pretty similar from tomato variety to tomato variety, there are two categories of tomatoes whose contrasts differ enough in relation to trellises that it is worth mentioning here: those are determinate and indeterminate tomatoes.
The main difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes is that determinate varieties have a “self-pruning” gene that only allows them to grow a determined amount, which leaves them smaller and rather bushy-looking. In fact, they’re also called “bush tomatoes.”
Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, grow an indeterminate amount throughout the entire growing season, and only stop growing when the weather gets cold. They grow in long vines that would tangle into a moist mess on the ground without support.
While determinate tomatoes don’t always need support, it’s still good to have some in place just in case the fruit production starts to weigh the plant down. Indeterminate tomatoes, though, absolutely require heavy-duty support because they are unable to hold their vines and tomatoes off the ground.
Thus, indeterminate tomatoes are the ones that benefit most from trellises, and also the ones that will probably look best and bring the most satisfaction when grown with support. You’ll be able to tell just how grateful your plants are!
7 Tomato Trellis Ideas
Now that you’re armed both with the knowledge of why you should look for tomato trellis ideas, and what kind of tomatoes are best for trellises, let’s get cooking!
1. The Garden Obelisk
Cherished for its reputation for sturdiness in the long run, the Garden Obelisk is another tomato trellis idea made out of wood that can also contribute to the overall exterior landscaping of your garden (if you have an eye for these things!). This one will certainly hold up the most plentiful and heavy of tomato harvests, so bring on the indeterminate tomatoes!
2. Raised Bed Trellis Arch
This one is a favorite of mine among all of my tomato trellis ideas because of the touch of whimsical it gives to gardens once the tomato plants have grown tall enough to cover the entire archway. You’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale! While the raised bed trellis arch is a little on the more complicated side (lots of building and measuring required) it’s well worth the time and energy spent learning how to do so!
3. A-Frame Support Structure
Next on our list of tomato trellis ideas is the A-Frame Structure, which is actually very similar to the T-Post Tomato Trellis, but a little more difficult because the frame is made out of wood, and thus requires nailing and cutting wood. Nevertheless, this trellis trains tomatoes to grow up strings of twine hanging off a wooden beam that is held up on both ends by triangular supports. Its A-shape makes it easy to drape the entire structure with protective material to shield your tomatoes from extreme weather.
4. Florida Weave String Trellis
Here’s another easy one for you that works particularly well for determinate tomatoes. Though I’m not sure why it’s called the Florida Weave String Trellis, the weave part is pretty self-explanatory. All you need it terms of supplies is stakes and some sort of twine, netting, or cord. Once you’ve stuck the stakes into the ground on either end of your row of young tomato bushes, weave the twine between the stakes to create a secure netting around the plants that helps keep them upright.
5. Wooden Tomato Cage
If you’re going for the biggest, heaviest indeterminate tomato plants, look no further! This tomato trellis idea is great because it can be built to accommodate any size, and support practically any tomato weight. The design is simple but you should not that intermediate tools are needed to build this project, including a nail gun or electric screwdriver, and a saw to cut the wood to the right dimensions.
6. Lean-To Tomato Trellis
Next on my list of tomato trellis ideas is the Lean-To! Made out of livestock fencing and fenceposts, the Lean-To Tomato Trellis’ fencing will provide your tomatoes with the perfect support, even with its unusual sloping shape. The materials you’ll be needing include livestock fencing, livestock paneling, and livestock fencing posts, and remember that this material isn’t always the cheapest!
7. T-Post Tomato Trellis
The T-Post Tomato Trellis is a great tomato trellis idea for those looking for an easy DIY project to get their tomatoes trained. Made up of metal posts, twine, metal connectors, and rebar, even beginners won’t have a hard time training their young tomato plants around the twine hanging from metal connectors that are supported by the rebar.
Tips for Tomato Trellis Ideas
Hopefully, this list of tomato trellis ideas has gotten you started on your quest to find the best support for your plants. Here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:
- Most trellises are best for indeterminate tomatoes (AKA vining tomatoes), but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow determinate tomatoes on them.
- Remember your best tomato pruning practices! It will help train your tomatoes to grow the right way for the support system you’ve chosen.
- At the end of the harvest season, make sure to clean away dead foliage when you take apart your trellises. This helps prevent disease in the coming spring, as some fungi love to hibernate through the winter in dead leaf piles.
Go Build Your Own Trellis!
Now that you’ve gone through my list of seven tomato trellis ideas, it is time for you to decide which one is most appropriate for all your tomato-growing dreams. Remember that it’s important for tomatoes, especially indeterminate tomatoes, to have the proper support to keep their vines and fruits off the ground. This creates a healthier environment for the tomato plant to thrive in, and actually makes your life easier too both during the maintenance of your tomato plant, and during the harvest! Next, keep reading all there is to know about tomato care!