Choosing a Grape Arbor
How to choose the right grape arbor for your home and landscape design. The best kinds of arbors and pergolas to grow grapes on. Pictures of pergolas covered in grape vines. Discount pergola kits.
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There are 2 things you need to consider when choosing a grape arbor:
Where to Place Your Grape Arbor
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You'll find a page on the best climate for growing grapes here if you need in-depth information about where grapes can and cannot be grown. That is beyond the scope of this article, so I will assume that you live in a climate that is conducive to grape production.
Any sunny spot with good air flow--you don't want to pick a spot on your property where cold air tends to pool in the winter--and soil that drains well will work.
Sun is more important than soil if you don't have a place where both are suitable.
If the location is too shady, the vines will not be very productive and the leaves will remain wet for too long after a rain which will lead to disease.
If you have a sunny spot where the soil is too heavy, you can work around this by constructing a raised bed and filling it with suitable soil. This will give the grapes 6-12 inches of perfect soil to grow in before they get down into the native earth.
Using Grape Arbors in Residential Landscape Design
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Many grape arbors are constructed over doorways or patios. These are excellent locations (as long as growing conditions are suitable) because it makes the vines easier to enjoy and inspect up close.
Grape vines are decorative throughout most of the growing season. After they leaf out in the spring, you have the lush green, shade-providing foliage.
You spend the summer watching the fruit develop and ripen into juicy bunches. In fall, after the harvest, the leaves become a blaze of autumn color.
And then, as if the bountiful grape has not done enough for you, it conveniently denudes itself to make it easier for you to prune it.
What more can be asked of a home grown fruit?
If you live in a rustic cottage like this one, a simple metal arch may be all you need to train a grapevine over your door.
Just make sure the arch is wide and tall enough to allow enough clearance for people to walk through it when the vine is fully leafed out and heavy with fruit.
Beware of very inexpensive arbors. Most will be too small or weak to support mature grapes.
A support like that above is only large enough to accommodate a single, regularly-pruned vine.
When planting grapes on a shallow arbor, just place 1 vine on each side of the support. You will have to prune them each year (as you should in order to get the most fruit anyhow) to keep the vines from overgrowing the support.
At its widest--it adjusts from 36-60 inches--this wooden garden arbor will support 2 vines in fine style.
This country house in Versailles also features an attached grape arbor over its entrance. The intense red fall foliage of the grapes contrasts beautifully with the gold flowers of Rudbeckia goldsturm planted in the garden beds.
This kind of pergola is more often used as a grape arbor than a simple arch or metal hoop as a much larger number of grape vines can be grown on it.
Plant a vine beside each post and tie the strongest cane to it. Train the canes flat across the top of the pergola.
You do not strictly have to prune it each winter. But you will get a more bountiful harvest if you cut each spur back to 2 buds. Grape vines left to grow naturally will turn the space beneath the grape arbor into a shady retreat but will produce less and less fruit over time as dense foliage will tend to keep sunlight from reaching the fruit.
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What you want to look for in a pergola for growing grapes is a flat, open top. The spaces between the cross bars need to be large enough for the fruit clusters to fit through them easily.
This will also make harvesting the grapes easier and decrease the chance of the arbor being stained by squashed fruit.
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Consider buying a pre-cut pergola kit like the ones shown on this page. Assembling a kit pergola is much quicker and easier than building 1 from scratch. You also enjoy the added benefit of knowing exactly what the assembled pergola will look like before you order it.
There are do it yourself pergola kits available in a style and size to fit any residential landscape design.