A grape arbor provides double the pleasure, serving as a focal point of the small garden and a source of delicious fruit. You could be enjoying luscious grapes from your own arbor within two or three years! “Building and planting a grape arbor is a great project for someone with a small garden because the arbor is ornamental and also produces edible fruit to eat out of hand–provided the right variety is selected,” says backyard fruit-growing expert Lee Reich.
Seasons of Visual Interest
A grapevine provides visual interest yearround, according to Reich, who includes grapes among the 39 fruits that can be grown successfully in many backyards in his new book, “Landscaping with Fruit.”“In summer, the lime green leaves of the grape arbor shade the ground below and form an attractive luminescent ceiling as sunlight filters through,” he said. “Leaves of muscadine varieties turn a nice yellow in autumn. In winter, a grape plant trunk twists picturesquely over the arbor and bare stems overhead project shadowy traces on the ground without blocking out welcome sunlight.”
Where To Put Arbor
Since grapes do best in full sunlight and a well dtained neutral soil, select a spot that gets sun most of the day. The vines must be trained so that the canes are all exposed to maximum sunlight. The first step in creating a grape arbor is, quite obviously putting up the arbor. Reich designed and built his own arbor to cover a 15-foot by 40-foot patio that abuts his house in New Paltz, New York. “I designed it and then installed the vertical posts in the soil a strategic points, using pressure-treated wood and cross pieces of cedar for the overhead slats,” he recalled. Reich attached the horizontal overheads to a ledger board mounted on a wall of his house. He planted a single grape vine at the base of each post, training the vines to grow up the posts and spread over the horizontal overheads. He planted different varieties of grapes that ripen at different times.
While readymade arbors can be bought, “the nice thing about building an arbor yourself is that you can customize it to your spot,” Reich said. If a patio location available or practical, you can build a freestanding arbor anywhere. Before getting started, research arbors in magazines and books and on the internet. Also check lumberyards and home centers for readymade versions. Small readymade archways are often placed at one side of a house at the beginning or end of the side yard and they function as arbors.
Arbor building Tips
•Use rot-resistant wood; pressure-treated wood, black lucust and redwood are a few types that work as posts.
•Do not undersize the wood for the posts. A 4×4 would look flimsy and might not be stable a 6×6 is a minimum.
•Make the structure strong enough to survive winter weather.
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