Below is a picture of a 24’ x 12’ x 7.5’ arbor partitioned into four sections by crossing bracing boards. The arbor was built in spring/summer of 2011 with frame boards fastened to Red Cedar posts. Picture was taken before placing crossing wires for vine support.
It was built over a preexisting second leaf Concord vine which you can see in the lower right hand corner being near the center of the arbor. Also, it was built over two nursery rows of seedling/grafted apple trees.
Although the recommendation is to not plant the vines until the arbor is completed, I decided to plant four vines after placing the posts to take advantage of not having to wait until the next winter/spring. The varieties planted was Summer Royal, Black Monukka, Thompson Seedless and Venus.
Shortly after planting, I realized the probability was that I had made a mistake in selecting the varieties. So I ordered cuttings from Bunchgrapes http://www.bunchgrapes.com/ selecting the Jupiter, Reliance, Swenson Red and N.Y. Muscat varieties. After receiving them, I set them out in small pots according to instructions on their website.
It ended up that I was fortunate that I had done this as the varieties that I had planted at my arbor died in the next year or so. It likely was because some of these varieties were not hardy enough for West Tennessee’s winters. Also, they could have died of Pierce’s disease https://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/research/2008/pierces/ although it is rare at my location. Other than that, I don’t know.
I replanted at the arbor beginning in early spring of 2013 with three Swenson Red vines, two Reliance vines and one Jupiter vine while keeping the Concord vine. They are doing fine although I believe that I have too many vines for this arbor.
This being my first arbor, it would be fair to say that I did not know what I was doing.
Blueberry shrub in pot at the far corner. Big Yellow Delicious apple tree, soybean field and woods in background.
The below picture shows the placing of the supporting wire for that section. Wire was looped thru two eye bolts. The spacing between the eye bolts and thus the spacing between the lengths of the wire from side to side was 8". After threading the wire thru 2 eye bolts back and forth on each side to the end of the section, I tensioned the wire by hand and placed a fence strainer at both ends of the wire.
Because the strainer could not fully tension the wire thru the eye bolts, I used a come-a-long similar to this one https://www.amazon.com/Maasdam-144SB-6-Capacity-Power-Pull/dp/B00004Y68X/ref=sr_1_13?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1471985719&sr=1-13&keywords=come-a-long to increase the tension starting by tensioning the middle length (seven eye bolts on each side - so seven lengths) thru the eye bolts. After tensioning a length and removing the come-a-long the wire would not slip back thru the eye bolts. Then I continued on tensioning each length until the last one and then taking up the slack with the strainer. I then did the same for the other side of the middle length.
I have not had to adjust the tension since.
Notice that I painted my arbor including the posts a reddish color of some hue. It was already red. I thought why not. I don’t know if folks commonly paint their grape arbors or not. Don’t guess it makes much difference because once its covered with vines and leaves not much of it can be seen anyway.
Also, notice the seedling/grafted apple trees underneath the frame board and the second leaf supposedly Winesap tree.
Well, here it is 5 years later with about the same camera angle as the first picture. Can’t see much of the arbor except a little along the side. If you are able to zoom in you can see the washers and nuts that fasten the eye bolts to the 2 x 8’s.
Except for the June Beetle damage, the vines looks healthier than the big Yellow Delicious apple tree. Don’t know whats wrong with it.
The picture below shows the corner where the blueberry shrub was (and its still there - just can’t see it very clearly) in the first picture. The fence strainer can be seen by the frame board.
This is a Reliance vine that was spur pruned last winter. One of my weaker vines. It forks into three cordons (or arms) with each being about 4 feet in length. One is along the far frame board, one diagonally thru the arbor and the last one along the side frame board (toward the camera). I try to have up to about 12’ of cordon length on each vine.
Below is picture showing the two center braces. These are Concord grapes that have been picked over by the varmints and myself.
Speaking of varmints, the birds really do not eat the grapes on this arbor. I have two 30’ Geneva Double Curtain grape trellises that the robins feast on but they
don’t get the grapes on the arbor. I guess its because they never see the grapes under the canopy of the arbor.
If I was building this arbor over again, I would consider using 2" conduit galvanized Steel pipes rather than the 2’ x 8’ Cedar bracing boards. Reason being that when spraying it can be difficult to get the spray on the side of the clusters facing the bracing board. Then the insects attack that side. It would improve the air circulation and sunlight penetration. Also, sometimes the grapes will lay on the top of the boards making them more of a stretch to get to. I don’t know much about conduit pipes or how well they would work as bracing members. I know the stores sells them in 10’ lengths rather than the 12’ lengths that would be
needed for this arbor.
View of arbor showing electric fence. Got to try to keep the varmints away by zapping them!
There has got to be at least 95 thousand different designs to build a grape arbor. Some may be for you. Some may not. My guess is that they are all fun to build.
Hopefully this post will be a help for folks that are planning on building a grape arbor/pergola.