How to Build a Tomato Trellis for Staking Tomatoes

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Updated 5.13.24

A tomato trellis is a large frame, set along a row of tomatoes, with vertical hanging twines for each plant. 

Tomato plants are trained up the twine for support as they grow.

A trellis is a cost-effective, time-saving way to stake tomatoes, especially if you grow more than just a few plants. Trellises come in all shapes and sizes. They're easy to build ... in fact, when it comes to tomato trellises, you can improvise and DIY your own tomato trellisOften when gardeners discover how simple it is to build a trellis, it becomes their preferred way to stake tomatoes!

Advantages to using a tomato trellis for staking

  • It’s one of the least expensive ways to stake tomatoes. A trellis uses just 4 stakes for 5-8 plants, versus one post for each plant with traditional staking. Cages often are even more expensive than stakes.
  • A trellis is easy to build!
  • Maintaining your plants with trellis support is simpler than maintaining them with stakes. Staking requires continual tying throughout the season – a time-consuming task. With a tomato trellis, twine is already in place. You simply need to train new branches onto the twines, which takes mere seconds. A tomato trellis saves time over the season.

Are there drawbacks to using a tomato trellis?

Set up can take a little more time for a trellis than with other forms of staking.

What to know about tomato trellising

  • Install your trellis after you have planted tomato plants.
  • Check plants every few days to train new branches up trellis. Training branches is especially important if you don’t prune your tomatoes – you’ll have more branches that need support. (Of course, if you stake tomato plants in the traditional method, you’ll need to tie up new tomato branches every few days, too – whether or not you prune.)

One way to build a tomato trellis

What you need:

  • Four 6-foot metal fence posts or three 6-foot metal fence posts and two 8-10 foot nylon garden stakes (fence posts have holes, making it easy to attach them to each other with nylon ties)
  • Bolts
  • Nylon ties
  • Hemp twine
  • Hammer or sledgehammer
  • Wrench

What to do:

1. Decide where you want to place your trellis along your tomato row. Choose a distance about 10 feet long. Make sure there’s a tomato plant in the ground at either end of your planned trellis length, since end posts will serve as stakes for those plants.

bolt stakes together to create trellis crossbar

2. On the ground, lay out two metal posts (or two nylon garden stakes) to make the trellis crossbeam, overlapping the areas to be joined by foot or more. With a wrench and bolts, attach metal posts in the center to create the trellis’ horizontal bar. If you're using nylon stakes to make the crossbeam, overlap them by a foot or more and attach them tightly together with nylon ties, since they don’t have holes for bolts. As you position the stakes together, make sure their combined length is about a foot longer than the spread along which you plan to install the trellis.

use nylon ties to attach trellis bars

3. With hammer or sledgehammer, drive two metal posts into the ground along your planned trellis length, each next to a tomato plant. If you are using nylon stakes for the crossbeam, then drive a third metal post into the ground about halfway between the two end posts to give additional support – also next to a tomato plant to provide its stake.

4. To create the trellis frame, attach the horizontal bar across the top of the vertical bars, using 3-4 nylon ties on both ends to secure. (If you are using nylon stakes for the crossbeam, then be sure to strap the center post to the crossbeam, too.)

loop twine from plant over bar and back to create trellis ties

5. Use a double string of hemp twine to support each tomato plant. (Plants can get quite heavy during the season.) To string the support, twist or loop one end of the hemp twine around each tomato plant. Be careful that the loop is not too tight, since plants will grow significantly during the season. Run the twine upwards to the horizontal crossbeam, loop it over the beam and back down to the plant, and secure the second end on the plant. Alternatively, let the twine dangle at the plant, loop it over the crossbeam and back down to the plant, and twist both ends together on a plant branch. 

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