The vines of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) can spread up to 15 feet across the garden bed. To support the rapidly growing vines and maximize limited space, many gardeners install a trellis. While a simple teepee made of bamboo stakes and twine supports bean vines for a season or two, a sturdy trellis of four-by-four posts and welded wire fencing allows you to rotate your bean patch with other climbing vegetables or vines with heavy fruits, such as peas (Pisum sativum) and melons (Cucumis melo).
Build a Temporary Support
A temporary support is as simple as three to five 6- to 8-foot tall bamboo poles pushed 12 inches into the ground and tied together with twine at the top to make a teepee-shaped support. Use more twine to connect the poles, spiraling upward while wrapping it around each pole in turn. Plant three or four beans at the base of each pole. The beans will climb up the poles and twine, covering them with vines.
If you have children or grandchildren, leave a space open between two poles so the children can play inside the bean teepee while you work in the garden.
Make a Permanent Support
Build a permanent trellis with four-by-four posts and welded wire fencing. While it requires more work, you can use it for many years for a variety of crops.
Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- 2 pressure-treated 4-by-4 posts, 8 feet long
- Crushed gravel
- Spirit level
- 4 stakes
- 4 scrap 2-by-4 boards, 2 1/2 to 3 feet long
- Deck screws, 3-inch
Electric drill with a screwdriver bit
- 4 bags quick-setting concrete
- 2 pressure-treated 2-by-4 boards, 8 feet long
- Welded wire fencing, 6 feet tall
- U-shaped fencing staples
Dig two 30-inch-deep holes, 10 1/2 inches in diameter, for the 8-foot-tall pressure-treated posts. Space the posts 89 inches apart, from inner edge to inner edge.
When digging and working with concrete mix, wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes, work gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from dirt, debris and cement dust.
Add 6 inches of crushed gravel to the hole, and tamp it firmly with the end of the post. Fill the hole with water and allow it to soak into the soil.
Place the first post in its hole. Pound two stakes into the ground, 2 feet from the post hole, parallel with two adjacent sides of the post. Screw a scrap two-by-four to the side of the post, 2 feet above the ground. Use a spirit level to ensure that the post is vertical before screwing the other end of the two-by-four to the stake. Repeat with the second two-by-four and stake. Install the second post in the same manner.
Pour quick-setting concrete into the hole to within 3 inches of the ground level, and add 1 gallon of water per bag. Double-check with the level to ensure that the post is still vertical and adjust it quickly, as the concrete sets in 20 minutes. Allow the concrete to dry for at least four hours.
Skip the concrete and pack the post hole with soil or crushed gravel, tamping it firmly, to make the trellis a semipermanent installation.
Place an 8-foot-long two-by-four on top of the two posts. Screw the board down securely, using three screws per post. Measure 4 inches up from the ground on the inner edges of the posts. Mark that spot on each post, and then measure the distance from post to post. Cut a two-by-four to that measurement. Drill two screws down at an angle, through the end of the two-by-four and into the post. Repeat on the other end of the board, attaching it to the post.
Roll out the welded wire fencing, and lay it on the ground in front of the trellis. Lift it up and align the end of the fencing with the end of the post. Using U-shaped fencing staples, attach the fencing to the post, beginning approximately 5 inches above the ground. Place a staple every 6 inches, attaching the fencing to the post. Next, staple the fencing to the top board, placing one staple every 3 inches. Attach the fencing to the second post, again, placing a fencing staple every 6 inches.
Cut off the excess fencing with wire cutters. Finally, attach the fencing to the bottom board with fencing staples.