A Grape arbor is a support or trellis which a grape vine can grow over. Providing a trellis for a vine not only provides somewhere for the plants which are natural climbers, to grow against; it also provides a secluded spot to sit and enjoy the garden.
grape arbor design
There are no rules when it comes to grape vine trellis design.
Grape arbors can be built in any design that takes your fancy. However there are some good guidelines if you want to produce a maximum yield of grapes.
Simple three post grape arbor design
The classic simple design seen in many gardens is a triangle comprising three vertical posts (fixed into the ground using the metpost system or with concrete to hold them in place).
How to build a simple grape vine arbour
Here is a design for a simple grape arbor such as the one shown above. Usually people build them as a right angled triangle in a corner of the graden, with a lattice roof for the vines to cover. Then a vine is planted at the foot of a south facing upright and left to grow.
You will need three poles that are 25% longer than the height you want. If you want the posts to stand 4 ft from ground to top, get 5 foot poles.If you want the posts to stand 6ft from ground to top, get 7and a half foot poles. If you want the posts to stand 8ft from ground to top, get 10 foot poles. This extra 25% goes into the ground to stabilise the arbour.
Four post grape arbor
A four post grape arbor looks something like a small Japanese temple or ‘monkey bars’ from a kids playground.
How to build a Four post grape arbor
Although a grape vine starts off as a small plant it can grow to be a heavy object (especially when dripping with fruit in late season). Therefore consider your materials carefully. Thin aluminum tubing is unlikely to be able to take the weight. Opt for wrought iron or, as most people do, go for wood. making a wooden grape arbor is not at all difficult.
A good height for a grape arbour is between 8 and 9 foot high. This gives you space to walk beneath it but is not so high that grapes become unreachable.
The wood will become a permanent garden feature, so it needs to last. Therefore use either pressure treated timbers or wood that contains natural preserving oils. Remember that with a vine growing over your arbor you will not be able to treat the wood with preservative in later years.
The basic design above can be improved with curves, scrollwork and other fancy ideas, although in time the vine itself will provide a great softening effect and your grape arbor will take on a very organic appearance.
How to join the timbers of an arbor together?
I think in garden situations a dowelled tenon joint is the best looking option of all.
A mallet and mortice chisel are all the tools you need to make a mortice hole. The tenon is often more easily cut with a saw. Then once you have aligned and inserted the tenon into the mortice, drill through both and mallet in a very snug dowell to lock the joint together.
If you feel that do welled tenon joints are beyond your ability then coach bolts are a good substitute.
Post and Rope Arbor
A simpler variant on a four post grape arbour is to simply place the verticals where you like, secure them with concrete and then drill holes and thread ropes between the posts. This works if the posts are a good diameter and the rope is heavy and doesn’t sway too much in winds. The vine will happily trail across ropes just as it would across horizontal joists.