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How to Install a Raspberry and Blackberry Trellis

Upgrading from a basic to a refined trellising system
Monday, October 20, 2014, 3:47 PM

My old raspberry and blackberry trellis was made of green ‘T’ posts and light gauge green wire. Not particularly attractive, so I decided to install a more professional looking trellis. I just moved my raspberry and blackberry canes up against my fence, so I already had one side of the trellis taken care of. The other side, I decided to install a standard two wire system held up with 4x4 wooden posts. This system works well, looks nice, actually it is hard to even see, and is easy to install. If you do not have a fence you wish to install your raspberries against, you would simply need to install the two wire system on both sides of the canes. This would actually make it easier to pick raspberries on both sides of the trellis. I will be forced to pick from one side only, so I will probably miss some berries. That’s OK with me, we always have tons.

Materials

  • 12.5 gauge orchard wire
  • Wire vices
  • 6 foot 4x4 pressure treated timbers
  • Gravel

Tools

  • Wire cutters
  • Gripple tensioning tool
  • Digging bar
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger
  • Drill

Note:  ‘ = feet “ = inches

1. Install 4’ high 4”x4” pressure treated timbers as fence posts no further apart than 50’. These timber posts should be 6’ high timbers that are buried 2’ into the ground so only 4’ is exposed. Also, it is a good idea to put 4” of gravel at the bottom of the hole and tamp the gravel, so you would need to dig 28” deep fence post holes.

Wire Vice

2. Drill holes at 18” and 36” in fence posts to install the wire at different heights. This can vary by a few inches. For example, my end posts had only the two holes drilled, but my middle posts had four holes drilled, so I had to place them down a couple of inches so as not to interfere with my other drill holes. I drilled once, just large enough for the 12.5 gauge orchard wire all the way through. Then I used the same hole to drill just half way through, but much larger to fit the wire vices. This only has to be done on the side you will install the wire vice.

3. Cut the wire to fit between your timber posts, leave at least 3’ of extra slack.

Gripple Tensioner

4. Thread the wire through an end post, and into the skinny part of a wire vice. Pull through so you have a foot of slack. Then thread the wire to the connecting post and connect to another wire vice. Hold the wire vice down by hand or with screws and pull the line taut. Use the gripple tensioning tool to get the wire even tighter. Cut the excess if you have more than 1 foot. Make sure to leave enough excess to re-tighten as needed. I like to leave about a foot of excess.

Tensioner Pulled Tight

5. Repeat step 4 for all of the wire that you need to install.

6. If you have long runs like I do, you can install one ‘T’ post in between your timber connecting posts to hold the wire up better so it looks nice.

T-post

Raspberry Trellis Endpost

Raspberry Trellis

Raspberry Trellis

~ Phil Williams

Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com.  His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.

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8 Comments

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 456
Thanks, but for me it doesn't seem to be worth the effort.

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the concise info on efficiently installing a trellis for raspberries.  About 5 years ago I planted a 15 foot row of 10 plants that produce both a summer and fall crop.  I have never trellised them.  The patch has expanded a bit so I can just reach the center when I pick.  A few plants around the edges flop over and I lose a few of those berries, but for the most part they stand on their own.  I pick about 7.5 gallons over the season from this row.  To me, it doesn't seem to be worth the time and expense to trellis them for what I suspect would be at best a small increase in yield.

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 337
Is it worth doing

Quercus,

For me, I think it really depends. I trellised, and put in a root barrier for my raspberries that are growing in my zone 1 garden. For me that was worth keeping my walkway clear, keeping the berries from encroaching my annual garden, and keeping the berries upright so picking is easier. 

I also have tons of native raspberries growing out in zone 4 of my property. It's a really nice stand of berries, that I do nothing to. They hold up fine without trellising, but I don't get near the yield, which is because of the different variety, soil, and lack of care. 

Of course this isn't really about just raspberries. I just wanted to show an application for the wire vice and gripple tensioner, which I think are great ways to have a good taut trellis. In the video, I'm using the wire vice for grape vines. I've also used them for kiwi.

Phil

 

 

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 456
I see.

Thanks Phil.

These berries are at the edge of the woods, surrounded by mowed lawn on the other side, so spreading isn't an issue.  On the other hand, I have some blackberries  right near them that seem to have a sprawling habit.  Trellising them would likely increase yield and make picking easier.

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 337
It must be variety

For whatever reason, my blackberries tend to stand up. Trellising helps, but not near as much as my raspberries. They also don't spread like the raspberries either. It must be the variety, because blackberries in the wild tend to spread quickly. Thanks for the input.  

 

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 456
Yes, Variety

A coworker dug some of his blackberries, I think in the spring of 2013 and gave them to me.  I don't know what variety they are, but they behave somewhat like a cross between the creeping blackberries that I sometimes find in open field and the upright ones.  The "wild" ones near I encourage in another corner (probably descendants of some planted by a neighbor's grandfather about 60 years ago) stand up straight even when the reach 8 feet in height.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 403
Blackberries are biennials

A lot of the variation in blackberries are the difference between first and second year plants. 1st year plants have a green shoot and are upright, and second year are curved and purplish (to generalize). 

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 456
re: biennial blackberries

Yes, the canes are biennial (the roots are perennial).  The second year canes do tend to arch an lean over more, but the cultivated variety my friend gave me is arches up only a few feet the first year before turning into more of a vine than a cane -  about 10-12 feet in total length - kind of like those purplish wild raspberries that some people call dewberries.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 403
Dewberries are ground vines.

Dewberries are ground vines. If folks refer to plants that are growing into a stalk as dewberries tell them they are wrong! They are a ground vine. Prickly dewberries are a really common ground cover that grow in New England woods, and black raspberry is a stalked plant with similar thorn size that grows out in fields/edgy areas which may be what they are talking about? Dewberries grow like wintergreen or partridge berry.

I have no experience with cultivated blackberries, so i can't visualize the difference. I'm curious to learn though Quercus. thanks for sharing.

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