Raspberry trellis: benefits & DIY tips


I am a commercial grower, specialising in the small-scale production of organic vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. I trained as a horticulturalist and then worked on traditional farms in Europe and the UK before establishing my own business, growing quality produce for local distribution and with an emphasis on soil health, biodiversity and social responsibility. I think growing, cooking and sharing food makes life happier and healthier, and I enjoy using my knowledge to show others that it can be simple too.

Favourite fruit: figs and redcurrants
Favourite vegetables: artichokes and kale

A simple trellis system for your raspberry plants can help you to make the most of this wild and wonderful fruit. The right support can last season after season and help you get a good yield of raspberries from early summer until the first frost.

raspberry support system
A simple trellis can prevent raspberry plants from taking over a small garden [Photo: SpotLuda/ Shutterstock.com]

The common raspberry (Rubus idaeus) grows on long, woody stems called canes. Each raspberry plant produces vigorous canes which quickly spread to become tall, unruly, over-crowded and rather prickly. Fortunately, you can help tame red, gold, black or purple raspberry bushes in your garden by using a trellis.

Do raspberries need a trellis?

Raspberry plants spread prolifically in the wild by sending up strong, vigorous shoots from their roots called suckers. Their natural growth habit is sprawling and bushy. As this is not always practical in a garden, it is common to use a trellis system when growing raspberries at home or on the allotment.
It has several benefits:

  • Stops tall (up to 3m), heavy plants from falling over
  • Fruit is easier to see and to reach
  • Plants are easier to feed, prune, water, and mulch
  • More air can reach the plants which is important for preventing raspberry diseases
  • Plants get more sunlight
  • The fruits are kept off the ground away from hungry mice and insects
  • Plants are protected from wind damage
  • Fruit quality is improved
trellis for raspberries
Growing raspberries on a trellis makes picking much easier [Photo: KreAtor Photography/ Shutterstock.com]

Raspberries come in a wide range of both summer- and autumn-fruiting varieties. Summer-fruiting raspberries (known as floricane-fruiting plants) are particularly well suited to a raspberry trellis. After harvesting, fruit-bearing canes are cut down whilst the younger ones are left to grow and fruit the following year. This means the plants need year-round support. Autumn-fruiting raspberries (known as primocane-fruiting plants) are less vigorous and have all their canes cut back completely in February. You might want to build them a trellis, so they have extra support during fruiting season when they are heavy.

DIY raspberry trellis

Raspberries are not natural climbers, so the best trellis designs will support the plant’s growth and gently contain their wandering nature. Traditionally, raspberry training techniques have varied, with English, Scottish and Scandinavian growers all developing their own styles. Systems commonly used in the commercial production of raspberries are the T-trellis and V-trellis, so-called because of their distinctive shapes. These sturdy structures hold plants upright between parallel wires, at an angle which enhances light exposure and air circulation. They maximise yield, fruit quality and harvesting speed.

The post and wire or single fence system is a simple version of the commercial designs. It requires less space and material, so it is cheaper and works well in gardens. It supports lots of raspberry canes through their long lives with a sturdy trellis that will not need to be replaced. When the plants are at their full height using a trellis makes it easier to pick lots of raspberries. Here are some ideas to help you plan and build a raspberry trellis of your own.

metal raspberry trellis
A raspberry trellis is easy to build at home with simple materials [Photo: VPales/ Shutterstock.com]

DIY raspberry trellis for summer-fruiting canes: step-by-step

It is a good idea to build the trellis before planting the raspberries to avoid damaging the plants during construction.

  • Prepare an area of ground 90cm wide and 3m long for the raspberries before installing the trellis. This should allow for five or six plants.
  • You will need two strong, sharpened posts at least 2.5m long with a diameter of approx. 12cm. Posts treated with non-toxic wood sealer helps avoid premature rotting. Metal posts can also be used.
  • Drill three holes through each post at heights of around 60cm, 100cm, and 160cm. Alternatively, screw in vine eyes at the same heights.
  • Drive the posts into the centre of the bed at 3m intervals, to a depth of at least 70cm. Use a heavy hammer or a post driver. Stand on a sturdy crate if you need extra height. The posts should not feel wobbly once in the ground. Adding a brace can provide extra stability.
  • Run three lines of galvanised steel or nylon wire through the holes, securing them to the posts at either end. The lines should be as taut as possible. If you are using vine eyes, a Gripple tensioner can be used to easily tension the nylon wire through the vine eyes.
  • Plant the canes beneath the trellis 50cm apart and loosely tie the stems to the wire with twine. Water and mulch after planting.

Tip: wherever you plant your raspberries, it is important to enrich the soil with some well-rotted garden compost or a free-draining, nutrient-rich compost, such as our Plantura Organic Tomato and Vegetable Compost. Work the compost into the bed before building your trellis to promote healthy fruit growth.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
  • For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Easy raspberry trellis for Autumn-fruiting varieties

Autumn-fruiting raspberries often require little or no support at all, but sometimes they will start leaning to one side during the fruiting season. To prevent them from falling, simply knock in temporary stakes at each end of the row and run a line of twine between them. This provides a support for the canes to rest upon until they are cut back in winter.

Growing summer and autumn fruiting raspberries on the same trellis as each other can cause confusion. They have different pruning requirements and can easily get mixed up. It is perfectly fine to grow them next to each other on separate trellises. If you do not have room for both varieties, some autumn cultivars can be pruned for double cropping, or choose modern Two-Timer cultivars that fruit twice a year. In this case the stake-and-wire trellis is more suitable.

wire raspberry trellis with stakes
A single wire can provide sufficient support for autumn-fruiting raspberries [Photo: eleonimages/ Shutterstock.com]

Staking raspberries in small gardens, raised beds and containers

If you have a very small garden or raised beds and want to try growing just a few canes, then a single stake for raspberries will do the job well. Knock the stake into the ground and plant a maximum of three canes around it. Secure the canes to the stake with twine.

There are also many dwarf raspberry varieties that reach only 1m in height and are ideal for growing in containers. Once planted, firmly insert several bamboo canes around the plant and secure it to them gently with twine.

a stick as a raspberry climbing aid
Sticks or bamboo canes can be used to support single raspberry plants [Photo: Sergiy Akhundov/ Shutterstock.com]

Trellis a raspberry against a fence

You can use your garden fence or wall as a raspberry trellis by running wires along it horizontally and securing in the canes with twine. Remember that raspberries like to travel and, when planted against a fence, will soon send up suckers (new growth) into next door’s garden, and spread quickly from there. Hopefully your neighbour will love raspberries as much as you do! You could instead install a root barrier or try growing the bamboo-leafed raspberry (Rubus bambusarum). Native to China, this is a beautiful and quick-growing evergreen climbing raspberry, which makes a pretty cover for walls and fences. It produces delicate purple flowers and small but edible, glossy black fruits. The younger leaves can also be used for tea.

A trellis makes caring for your raspberry plants so much easier. Now learn how to cut back your canes with confidence in our article on how to prune raspberries correctly.

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