Garden Structures are very useful for certain types of vegetables and flowers. These structures we’re talking about today are added to raised beds or EarthBOXes or anything you grow in – or installed just because you want to highlight something in your landscape.
I’ve been thinking about adding some more structures to our garden, and my research led me to writing this blog article. Fall gardening will be starting next month, so it’s a good time to add any structures to your garden that fit into your garden planning for this upcoming growing season.
Usually you see vining plants climbing these types of structures. In fact, that’s what they’re mainly for – keeping vines off the ground. But garden structures have become so much more than functional.
We’re Talking Easy Structures
I’ll go through a few types of structures that are easy to put together out of what you might have laying around….or if you’re not the up-cycling or handy type, then of course they’re available to purchase from vendors locally and on the internet. Or, even better, a local carpenter that might want some small project work would be ideal – and you’ll support a local family when you pay them!
We’ll also talk about some things you might grow on the structures, just to get your mind turning on the topic. I’d love to hear your ideas and see your sketches/photos of structures you have – or want to have – in your garden!
Side note: I’m not a carpenter, so there are no step-by-step building instructions here. This is just for preliminary ideas and inspiration!
Garden Structures: Trellises
I’m going to start with the obvious – trellises. A trellis is usually a vertical lattice that a vine can climb to keep it up off the ground. It can be made from many different materials, such as wood, twine, iron or other metal, pvc, and wire.
Here’s a few examples of some trellises:
Trellises can be used to grow many types of vines, from flowers to edibles. They are very common and come in all shapes and sizes!
My favorite trellis is one that Mr. Shell built out of a hog panel (a piece of fencing) and some 2″ x 2″ Cypress stakes (above). Right now there are sweet potatoes growing on it.
Garden Structures: Teepees
A Teepee acts like a trellis, but it’s more three-dimensional and provides more space for growing. It also takes up a little more space than a trellis. But it can be a whole lot more decorative, so you get that bonus!
Many people use Teepees to create a living play-space for their children – you can grow vegetable and flower vines up the teepee stakes and the inside of the teepee will be shady and inviting to play on a hot summer day.
Additionally, you can grow a lot more plants on a single teepee than you can on just a trellis. Look at these diagrams to see what I mean:
A teepee is a great way to include your children in your gardening!
Garden Structures: Obelisk
An obelisk is a sort of cross between a trellis and a teepee. It doesn’t have room to sit underneath or inside, but it is 3 dimensional.
Many ornamental gardeners use these to highlight a particular climbing species in the middle of a flower bed, and it doubles as an architectural piece during the Winter months when a perennial plant might be dormant under the ground, or you may not be growing anything (which would be a shame, here in Florida we can garden all year long!
Garden Structures: Hoop Trellis
I confess, I’ve always wanted one of these. Usually these are made with PVC that is rigid but flexible enough to be curved over a garden bed. Then you attach wire or netting stretched over the PVC structure to cover the garden bed. Also, a popular choice is cattle panels, which are wire fencing that can bend relatively easily while still being sturdy and strong. Some people make a PVC frame and lash the cattle panels to it, giving the wire panel extra support when they grow heavier crops.
Vining plants like cucumbers, beans, peas, some squashes, melons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, etc., can grow over the trellis.
The fruits hang down underneath the “hoop” making them easy to pick (and secure to the frame as they grow if they’re heavy, like cantaloupe, using pantyhose or some other breathable bag tied to the frame).
Additionally, the rest of the garden bed underneath gets dappled shade, which can extend your growing of more fragile crops like herbs and lettuces as it’s getting warmer (like during a Spring planting). The shade extends the time to bolting, but still gives you enough light to grow those crops. Win win!
This is an example of a trellis used for this purpose, same concept, different structure
ProNote: You don’t want the bed underneath to be too long/deep. You’ll need to be able to reach everything planted underneath from the open ends (and it may not be easy to crawl under the hoop unless you make it that way). If you are doing long rows or beds with hoops, make sure you make a “walkway” through the middle at the highest point so you can weed, harvest, and prune.
Garden Structures: Arbor
Arbors are often found covering something with shade, such as gates, patios, and walkways.
Normally people plant flowering vines on these arbors like wisteria, passionflower vines, clematis, bougainvillea, roses, jasmine, honeysuckle, and the like.
You can use arbors to define an outdoor living space, make a patio partially shaded (people use a pergola structure for this often, which is a large version of an arbor), or just to add architectural interest to your gateway into your fenced area.
Garden Structures: Towers/Dutch Bucket (Bato Bucket) Systems
Growing towers and Bato Bucket systems are nearly always used for growing edibles such as tomatoes and pole beans, and also multi-ported towers are for lettuces and herbs.
These structures combine the place for the growing medium (soil, hydroponic, aquaponic, etc) with the structure to support the plant (see those pulleys hanging from the top wire? They are connected to a wire that goes down to each bucket to support the tomato plants as they grow.
The goal is to grow the most plants in the smallest square footage by taking your growth vertical.
I mention them here because as many of us urban farmers move to growing more on their own land, we will need to make best use of our edible garden spaces, and that usually means growing vertically.
Wrapping it up
I hope that this article has given you some things to think about when deciding on structures for your garden!
Until next time, Keep Growing!