Successfully grow your own grape vines using these handy tips. How to select a variety, find the perfect location, build a trellis and care for your plants!
A few of years ago, we finally decided to finally start growing those grape vines that we’ve been talking about for the last five years or so. We live in a really mild part of Southwestern Ontario and vineyards and wineries are actually pretty common around here, so we thought it would be neat to grow some too. Plus we had some cool barn beams that we wanted to use to make the trellises, so that pretty much sealed the deal. 🙂
Impressive Looking Plants
You’ve probably visited a friend or neighbor at some point in your life who had giant grape vines growing up the side of a garage, or on a giant trellis providing shade over a patio. These displays always look really impressive, but the truth is that grapes really need a pretty large support system because the plants can get really heavy when they’re weighed down with ripe fruit. To build our grape trellis, we used some really heavy hundred-or-so-year-old barn beams and some chicken wire, but a porch railing, or a wooden trellis up against a fence will work well too.
The barn behind our house had been taken down a few weeks before, leaving us with a completely non-obstructed view and a pretty great supply of rustic wood to play around with for the next few years.
I loved our view of the barn (you can see pictures of it here), but I think I might like this wide-open view even better!
And look at these fun beams!
We built our trellises earlier in the spring, so of course the garden looks a lot different at this time of year, but later in the summer is also a great time to plant you grapes and you can probably find some great deals in the garden centre too!
You can pop over and visit me on Instagram to see how our garden is looking right now.
Building a Trellis
We built our trellises really simply, with just a few cuts from the chain saw and some gigantic nails.
Those are the old nail holes from the barn. We just stuck our nails right in the top, and of course we poured some concrete footings as well.
Don’t mind the toys all scattered about and the little mini sandbox there! That’s how we actually manage to get out in the garden and get some work done these days!
Those little side supports were just there until the cement dried.
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The next thing we did was to stretch chicken wire across the fronts of the trellises. This was much quicker and easier than doing a series of individual wires or boards and really gives the vines somewhere to grab on to anywhere that they might need it!
I love how these grape trellises look from the road and how they’re like two little “picture frames” in front of the garden. I’m so impressed by how they’ve filled in now that they’ve been there for a few years.
Of course, if you’re short on time or lacking in rustic barn wood beams, a pre-package kit is a good option and should work out just fine if cared for properly.
These vines were just so happy to be here from the moment they were planted. Here’s how they looked just a few weeks later!
These vines were just loaded with teeny tiny baby grapes too!
How to Successfully Grow Grape Vines
If you’re thinking about planting some grape vines too, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Selecting Your Plants
-Grapes are happy growers in almost any climate and there are many varieties to choose from. If you aren’t sure which type to choose for your area, keep things simple and just pick some plants up from your local nursery. The types that they carry will be suitable for growing in your area.
-Grapes can take 1-3 years to start producing fruit, but you can buy pretty large well-established plants at your nursery right now. We found it was totally worth the extra few dollars to have the instant gratification and the excitement of being able to watch the fruit grow this very first year.
Find the Perfect Location
-Make sure you plant in an area with well-drained soil. You always see beautiful photos of vineyards growing down the sides of hills because that’s where grapes like to be! If you have a spot in your yard with a slight slope, that’s perfect. Our garden is dug out to be level, but that part of our yard slopes down towards the creek, so the drainage is perfect there.
–Ventilation is important. You want to have good airflow around the base of the plant and all around the leaves and fruit as much as possible. Since grapevines can get really lush and full during the summer months, this can be a bit challenging, so just make sure that your trellis is built at least a good eight inches away from the sides of fences or buildings if you choose to plant up against something like that.
Care For Your Plants
–Don’t over-water your grapes! After your first initial heavy watering at the time of planting, don’t worry too much about giving your grapevines extra water every day like you would need to for a new tree. Water them a few times a week just like you would if they were well-established if you live in a dry area, and if you get a decent amount of rain where you live, then they’ll pretty much just take care of themselves!
–Prune your grape vines every winter. Pruning is necessary for grapes to avoid becoming overgrown and also for them to produce fruit. If you don’t prune each year, your grapevine will become more and more likely to produce mostly leaves so trim back 70-90% of the previous year’s new growth, but maintain some of those newest shoots because the one year old shoots are where the fruit will grow! Make sure you do your pruning in the winter because it helps the plant avoid certain diseases. The plant can leak sap if you prune it during the warmer months and it won’t grow and produce quite as vigorously without it’s magical grape-growing sap! I went pretty crazy with the pruning this past winter and at the beginning of the spring I was pretty sure I had killed them, but now that it’s mid-summer they’re huge and full of grapes. Don’t be shy when it comes to pruning!
I’m so pleased to finally have our grape-growing adventure underway and I’m so excited to have discovered such a fun and easy plant to add to our property. I can definitely see a little mini vineyard popping up in another spot along on our creek at some point in the next few years. Plants that pretty much take care of themselves are always welcome at my house! 🙂
Do you have any favorite grape-growing tips and tricks that we need to know about?
Some of my favorite gardening posts:
- How to harvest basil for strong and productive plants
- How to use salt to finally get control of your weeds
- 5 uses for coffee grounds in the garden
- Homemade ant killer recipe
- How to edge a new flower garden
- Magical all-natural weed killing recipe
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.