The Best Tomato Trellis

The Best Tomato Trellis


Hi. I’m Gardener Scott. I grow a lot of tomatoes and I have for years. And for years I’ve been searching for the best way to keep tomato plants off the ground. I think I’ve found it. Join, me as I share with you what I think is the best tomato trellis. Tomatoes are the favorite plant of American gardeners. A lot of us grow them, a lot of us have success with them, but a lot of us don’t really trellis them to get the best production. This trellis behind me is one that I think accomplishes that. You may have one of those flimsy tomato cages that they sell everywhere. I have many of them and they’re mostly stacked in the back of my shed, because as people that grow tomatoes know, tomatoes can get quite large and those flimsy cages really don’t do any good to keep them under control. What you need, is something sturdy, strong and capable of growing the tomatoes to their full potential. The tomatoes I grow in my garden are typically six, eight feet tall and I need a trellis that can handle a tomato plant that is six to eight feet tall. I discovered cattle panels years ago. They’re heavy gauge galvanized steel and they’re used to keep livestock under control so they’re pretty strong What I’ve done is taken a cattle panel and turn it into a tomato trellis. Now there’s a lot of other videos out there that use cattle panels in the garden, but typically they’ll use them vertically, where they’ll take this panel and they’ll make a wall and they might have a steel post or a wooden post at either end to hold the wall in place, essentially creating a semi-permanent trellis. The reason I think these are a more perfect tomato trellis is because they’re movable, they’re stackable. You can shift them from bed to bed from year to year. But yet they retain that strength that is inherent in a cattle panel. These are heavy gauge usually about 8 gauge steel, galvanized About 50 inches wide and about 16 feet long They’re, difficult to cut. I like to use bolt cutters to make it a little bit faster. You decide on the size of your trellis and then you take the bolt cutters Cut it to size I begin by using the bolt cutters to cut off the end four rows That’s about two and a half feet which makes the remaining cattle panel just under 14 feet By cutting off the end piece, what’s remaining are tips that actually work very well as anchors when I put the trellis in the garden bed On the other end I still have a flat bar so to get the same anchoring ability I want to cut off this end piece by cutting through each of the vertical steel pieces Now I have 50 inch wide trellis with anchor points on each end and all I need to do now is just to bend it into shape. This really is heavy duty metal so you will have to put your whole body behind the bending of the cattle panel. I do it myself. I would recommend that two or three of you get together to make these panels. That might give you a little bit more control and it might actually be a little bit safer so you don’t accidentally poke yourself with those sharp tips. I begin by selecting a point halfway from end to end which corresponds to ten rows on either side. At that middle point I’ll use my feet to begin the bend get the panel bending in the direction I want. Then I’ll step around and continue putting pressure, not to bend it into a point but into a slight curve. At this point the trellis becomes very manageable I can lift it, carry it, with ease, in between the beds to the bed that I want to place it. Once the trellis is in the bed now comes time to anchor. These points will go all the way into the ground up to that first crossbar. So I just pull it towards me and it actually just slides very easily and now this side is anchored. I’ll go to the other side repeat that process, just pulling it vertically towards the wall of the bed and then sink it down. And now this trellis is in place very sturdy, and able to handle the weight of whatever I put underneath it. I think being able to move the cattle panels is a very important aspect to this particular design that I developed. I practice plant rotation. This year this bed has tomatoes and I’ve got my trellis over these tomatoes. Next year it’s going to be a different crop. Even in my home garden I practice rotation, so the ability to move these panels from bed to bed, from year to year is really a big advantage. A single trellis 50 inches wide is good for about two rows of four tomato plants allowing for the tomatoes to grow along these vertical nylon strings and that gives space on the end of the bed to grow an additional plant. In this case, basil and Nasturtium, to help deal with some of the pests that might impact the tomato plants. I also like to use a double trellis system. With these trellises I’ve trimmed off the lower two pieces of the panel giving me two panels, each about three feet wide So in this bed I can actually increase the number of plants because I’ve got two trellises. Another advantage to this type of system, even though I have them running parallel to the side of the bed, they could be turned perpendicular, depending on what you want to grow, with each of these trellises taking up about half of this 8-foot bed. Because they are only three feet wide they can easily fit if they’re turned 90 degrees. By the end of the season your plants can completely fill this tomato trellis and because of the dome design all that weight is evenly distributed. They won’t tip, they won’t blow over, they’re very stable and the tomatoes that are growing vertically will start to peak out through the sides which makes the harvest very easy. I’ve used my cattle panel tomato trellises for years and I plan to use them for many more years. Once you build one They’re virtually indestructible and will last for about as long as you continue to garden. That’s one reason why I think they’re so wonderful. There you have it. What I think Is the best tomato trellis. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know below. If you haven’t subscribed to the Gardener Scott channel please feel free to do so. If you liked the video, you can give me a thumbs up and share I’m Gardener Scott Enjoy gardening.

100 thoughts on “The Best Tomato Trellis

  • I've had many viewers ask about how I use the twine hanging from this trellis. To see a few different methods for trellising tomatoes vertically, please check out my other video: https://youtu.be/JHaGjxeV6wo

  • I bought 2 hog panels for my backyard garden, and installed one arch today for cucumbers. I wasn't sure how I would use the second panel until I saw this video – thanks so much! I've subscribed and am looking forward to learning more from you!

  • So glad that you are showing the measurements in metric as well. Thank you as I am from Australia we only use the metric system. Thank you for sharing this user friendly video.

  • thats great and Im in TX so my plants burn in late summer so the shade net could hang over yes?

  • last yr i took some old 'hog netting' 4×4 etc and cut them in certain lengths and rolled them to about 2' diameter and had cherry tomatoes about 12' high by fall; i kept stacking them and securing them in my greenhouse with 7' inside height to rafters. worked out beautiful for a simple hobby project ! lots of old wire netting laying around can be used for great vegetable growth systems !!!

  • I’m sorry but we’ve been using panels for years. We use them for cucumbers , squash, and tomato’s. Another one is concert reinforcement . 4×4 squares 4ft wide and 50ft long

  • I like your idea but I would just loosely tie the vines to the panel as it grows rather than using your string method.

  • Thanks for the video Scott. I'm new to gardening and I line this idea. Question what is the nylon string for?

  • Hi Scott, am a new subscriber. Loved this video. Have a question… Is there any reason I couldn't just weave the plants through the panel, rather than using string?

  • Thanks. Great idea. Might you have a great idea for a garden fence to keep deer out that looks pretty too?

  • Really like this method! 🙏 thanks for sharing.While I understand the reasoning for crop rotation. I have a very old book on companion planting by Helen Philbrick and Richard Gregg that recommends sowing nasturtium with tomatoes like you have done. It also mentions that tomatoes like to grow in the same location year after year. Any thoughts on this statement? Thanks for great content.

  • Gardener Scott: Can you use the cattle fence without the 2 x 12's that make the bed? Just bending it over & driving the points into the ground, Perhaps anchoring the trellis with re-bar?

  • so you let your tomatoes grow wild, no pruning the plant so you grow more and healthier tomatoes. As another video creator once said "I want to grow tomato's not leaves"

  • those ''old'' tomato cages work great for peppers when you top them and they branch out, well, now you know….

  • Great idea for a trellis. I have a question about the hey you're using as mulch. Do you use hey it was derived from a field not using herbicides? Aminopyralid and other herbicides used in a production have Half-Life and should be avoided. Even manure from pasture animals consuming herbicides pass through the feces

  • I’m sitting here thinking “no, no, he’s not going to demonstrate pushing the wires into the ground”
    Seriously how can you improve on the simplicity, strength, and ease of traditional tomato cages made from reinforcement wire and wired to a single tee post? No tying, and cheaper. If five feet tall isn’t tall enough you can hog ring a section above it. Something unique isn’t always better. Cheap import panels have welds breaking. One Red Brand or equivalent quality is 25 bucks and if you space tomatoes 4 feet apart (traditional 3 feet too close) you get two plants per panel. I can make cages for 6 bucks plus post, but who doesn’t have extra tee posts laying around somewhere

  • I've been using these panels for trellis a long time. I realize now that I'm doing it wrong. I feel like an idiot for not thinking of this myself. Fantastic video. Thank you!!!!

  • Congratulations! You've managed to turn a 2 or 3 minute "how to trim and bend a cattle panel" into an 11 minute rocket science essay. You ain't no Roger Swain dude!!

  • How do you keep the birds from eating them? I can’t grow tomatoes here because the mockingbirds devour then just as they get ripe. 😢 I want them ripened in the vine. Or I would just buy store bought. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Any suggestions?

  • I've been doing the single vertical wall idea for many years. Problem is, the vines want to go higher than top and tend to bend over and break. I think this next season I will use this idea. Sure looks easy, and like you said, transferable. Thanks for sharing

  • Thanks! I made some tomato cages out of the same panels about 5 yrs ago and they still almost look new. This looks much more simple though! I will try it. It looks like it would possibly be good for anything that grows on a vine as well to include peas, beans, cucumber, cantaloupe, dew melons, small watermelon species, passion fruit, etc.

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  • those must be some real flimzy panels,the ones we get here and have here wont bend that easy there alot stronger,maybe the new ones u get are like this but what i have and have bought at farm auctions wont bend without alot of force i know cause i made trellis with mine

  • I’m not clear on the cording. Do you just have that tied to the top of the panels hanging loosely for the tomatoes to grab on to?

  • I like your trellis, it is a great idea.  If you wait until the trellis is bent to cut the ends you won't have to worry about stabbing yourself as much.  Although you will have to flip the trellis to cut both ends..  Also if you have several to make you might try having a piece of maybe 4 or 6 inch PVC slightly longer than 50 inches with holes drilled in each end to anchor it to ground using long nails or steel rods,  for a more even bend and hold the panels in place.  Thanks for the tips.

  • Ok after seeing your tomato yield, I am definitely doing everything wrong! Wow. Thanks for the trellis idea. What were those companion pest detergent plants?

  • Hi I have one question, HOW TO MAKE GARDEN BEDS FROM A TO Z. Would love it if you have a instructional video on it. I am going to build a new vegetable garden and would love it if it looked something like yours. Will appreciate your guidance.

  • Great idea Scott. My garden is too small for this idea. I do have tons of bamboo in my yard, I use those only because I need to cut down my 3 year old bamboo's every year.

  • In this video . You used cattle panels. But in another video . You use wire with even larger squares. Look for a video from you on them. Found nothing. what are they called? And where do you get them. Are they cheaper than cattle panels?

  • Very good idea. If I have a small balcony garden, how can I make small trellis for tomatoes & for that matter for the creepers like cucumber, ridge gourd, bittergourd etc. Thanks.

  • Tell me about it. I had no idea tomatoes will grow crazy like that. I am aware I already fail on this part. Started with just trellis with round rings then I put stakes, At first I was activel pruning but I just could not keep up and then I started to tie them up on strings from the stakes but immediately the support are now sideways as the vine grew crazy. I started harvesting but they looked like cherry tomatoes. Now still growing crazy and I now all the trellis are being outgrown everytime I add more support I break lots of it along with the new flowers. I just wanna kill them but I can't do it.

  • This is a killer idea! Next year I'll be using this method, Bye Bye tomato cage! One question, how are you attaching the string to your plants?

  • That is a good idea. I grew tomato plants in buckets with those store bought round hangers, total garbage. I did grow some with my corn, hoping the corn stalks would help hold the tomato plants up. Horrible idea, heavy rain fall put such a weight on the corn from the tomato plants hanging on them and bent the corn down. So not a good idea. The tomato plant I just let them go on the ground, also not a good idea, rot problems with the tomatoes. Anyway, noticed a lot more tomatoes with the later approach. So I think next year, going to do your idea but grow horizontally. Leaving the trellis on an angle perpenticular towards the sun and let the plants, which is a vine, grow up a little up hill instead of total vertical. Thumbs up!

  • Here's how I like to do a cattle panel trellis left box then cattle panel folded into an arch to meet the right box. Now I can feel the left box with polyculture tomatoes green beans Asian long beans Peppers whatever it is I like and I simply weave tomato through the cattle panel. I repeat the process with the right box. Now the Harvest I simply walk under the tunnel.

  • If you have a moto type tool they m sc ke a tiny mandril with a cut off grindingbwheel 1 inch diamatee. Strong, clean and fast but not as quivk as expensive bolt cutters.
    A cheaper arrangement can be a T shape using 1x3s or 2x4s with nails driven in top across as nd simple strings hanging.

  • These are great trellises, been using them for a couple of years flat but this year I tried making an arch like this. It worked great until my plants grew to the top and into each other from both sides. It was difficult to tell one plant from the other for pruning and it got out of control.

  • we live at Northeast- should we store inside this cattle panel during winter? Or can we leave them out in our raised bed?

  • Since the offcut is so short, you might as well have given both ends anchor legs of two more segments each and gotten the desired panel from the middle of the full panel.

  • Using them in the way you are, the Feedlot Panels are the true winner. Strong, long lasting, and even cost efficient. Tractor Supply only charges about $22 where the same 8 plants would need 8 tomato cages costing $16. That's only a few dollars difference. But the greatest thing is the Feedlot Panel can be used for all kind of different vegetables where the tomato cage can't. The bad side, most people would have an issue getting those 16 footers home in their Prius.

  • Do you have any concerns about toxicity using cattle panels? They are labeled with warnings that they contain cancer causing chemicals.

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