Pole beans would be a pretty easy vegetable to grow, if not for their need to be stringed up. Luckily, stringing up your pole beans doesn’t have to be as challenging as you might’ve thought. There’s no shortage of tips and tricks that every level gardener can use to promptly and properly set up their string bean poles.
Here’s how to properly string up bean poles:
- Find the right space in your garden (plan ahead).
- Find the right support method.
- Encourage the beans gently.
- Adjust as your beans grow.
Below, I’ll discuss each tip in further detail to help you determine the most efficient plan of action for stringing up your pole beans. Afterward, I’ll provide some more information regarding the nature of the plant, along with some additional tricks you can use for a healthy crop.
1. Find The Right Space In Your Garden (Plan Ahead)
First, you’ll need to ensure you have the right amount of space for your pole beans. Understandably, this is a step you can’t take if you’ve already sown your seeds in the ground. However, if you’re reading this before you plant your pole beans, you need to make sure to plan ahead!
Pole beans are not the kind of vegetable you can just grow on an empty patch of your garden because you’ve got a little bit of wiggle room. If you’d like to grow them to their full potential, pole beans will require you to dedicate a large patch of space both in length and height. Pole beans can grow six feet tall when properly strung and need to be about two inches apart from each other (or 5.08 cm).
Interrupting your pole bean crop growth is not a great idea but can be done if necessary. Again, this is why I always preach planning ahead. It’s good practice to put your pole bean supports in the ground before sowing your seeds, so you don’t disturb the plant or its roots. However, if this isn’t possible, you can go ahead and add it after they have been sown. Just be careful!
If you’re running a more minor operation and don’t have the ability to keep a pole bean dedicated box, you can plant them near other plants while still allowing proper support height-wise. You can plant pole beans near:
Finding the right plot in your garden can make all the difference! In summary, you need to account for the possible vertical growth of the beans and make sure there is proper room for them to be fully supported throughout their development. Taking the time to do so before growing season will save you from a few headaches.
2. Pick The Right Support Method
Picking the proper support for your pole beans is crucial in stringing them up properly. There are many options you can choose from for this step, and picking the right one will determine how you string your beans up.
You should consider the budget of your project, your ability to partake in some physical labor, and how much time you have. If you’ve got no time and a pretty high budget, you may consider just buying a trellis online or finding one at a gardening store. However, if you’ve got a low budget, can do some physical labor, and are willing to spend a little extra time, many gardeners make their trellis.
Additionally, something essential to consider is the aesthetic appeal of your garden. There is no doubt that adding a trellis of some kind will bring an extra layer of attractiveness to the space: while most of us look down when on a garden, adding a trellis will bring the eyes up and be at the forefront of people’s vision before they even check out your cover crops.
However, if you have a very particular look you’re trying to go for, you’ll want to consider your preferences before picking a trellis.
Whether you build or buy, there’s a different shape, size, and budget option for everyone. I’ll discuss some of these options below, but by no means is this an exhaustive list. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a trellis, but there is some wiggle room to get creative!
Building A Trellis
Building a trellis will still require you to buy some parts, but it’ll likely be less expensive to make one yourself, and it will give you a bit more flexibility. Depending on what you have at your disposal, you may be able to recycle old materials to make your trellis.
If you enjoy being in your garden and taking time to build things yourself, there’s a wide range of projects you can take on depending on your experience level. You can make:
- Bamboo poles or stick trellis (for small gardens)
- String trellis
- Bean teepee trellis
- A-Frame Trellis
- Arch method trellis
I’ll talk about what you need to build each of these and why they might be the right fit for you below.
Bamboo Poles or Sticks
If you’ve got a small garden, a small budget, and aren’t interested in having your pole beans go as high as they can grow, some simple bamboo poles, stakes, or sticks might be the right choice for you.
Your pole beans will only grow as high as you allow them to grow. Using some tall stakes or planks of wood is better and more supportive than nothing at all and could work in a pinch if you are in the process of building a giant trellis or have one coming in the mail. Just know that your beans may grow beyond the size of these supports and might have a hard time thriving under these conditions.
If you have tons of tree branches and sticks at your disposal, you can use them as a free, recyclable material. You’ll have to get creative with this approach, as there isn’t a blueprint for it.
Another easy, cost-effective way to build a bean trellis is to use the string trellis method. This video walks you through a step-by-step approach of using this low-cost method:
You’ll just need some poles and some garden twine to make this work. Essentially, you want to add a stake on either side of the pole bean garden and tie a string around the two, building up and up until you reach the height you want your pole beans to grow. This method will require you to manipulate your beans just a little, so make sure to be gentle with them when doing so.
Seems easy enough, right? This method would work best for those who don’t have the biggest capacity for building or physical labor and only want to spend money on two or three materials. It won’t take too much time and does the trick, as long as you’re able to keep a watchful eye on your pole beans and help them utilize this support.
I find that bean teepees are among the most popular methods for stringing up pole beans. It’s the recommended approach by the good old Farmer’s Almanac, and you can find dozens of videos on YouTube with tutorials for this type of trellis.
As you can see, building a bean teepee doesn’t take an absurd amount of time or construction knowledge. You may be familiar with building tiny teepees out of sticks from when you were a kid, or at least know how they function architecturally.
I like this method because you don’t even have to buy anything. You can use discarded sticks from trees or get some old wood pieces and make them work. Not to mention it looks stunning in the garden! This strategy would work best for someone with adequate space, a beginner to medium level of building ability, and a low to mid-budget.
A-Frame trellis will usually only work if you’ve got a large amount of space, but building them makes for a breath-taking and professional-looking addition to any garden. You usually just need some wood, power tools, and a net or wire. Here’s a video of a lovely A-Frame trellis from Beginners Garden Journey with Jill, with tips on planting pole beans as well:
Her A-Frame leaves tons of space for garden plants underneath, which may be a creative solution if you love this trellis but don’t have a lot of room.
Using an arch as a trellis makes for a beautiful, interactive piece in your garden. If your garden’s aesthetic is important to you, you might consider this type of trellis. This approach is the last method highlighted in this video:
This method will take more construction knowledge and a slightly bigger budget. The builder used galvanized mesh, zip ties, and poles in this video. None of these components are costly, but depending on how high you want this arch to go and how long you want it to be, it might require buying a larger amount of product.
Buying A Trellis
If you’re low on time or just not interested in a DIY project, you can also order a trellis or buy it from a gardening or home goods store. Oftentimes, furniture stores will offer beautiful trellises made of iron or meant to be used for decoration. As long as it seems sturdy and you’re okay with it getting a little dirty, these will work. Additionally, some people will just use a trellis panel or two. If you can get them to sit up somewhere, these will work fine.
Using Your Own Fence
You could also use your own fence as a trellis if you really wanted to! Or, if you already have a trellis attached to a wall or fence for other vines, you can cut the vines and have your pole beans grow here. Granted, this set-up won’t work as well as the designated approaches, but it’s better than using no support structure at all.
3. Encourage the Beans Gently
Sometimes, your green beans will want to grow the other way when they should be utilizing the support structure. If this is the case, you can use garden twine to help support the beans and encourage them to use your trellis. If you have a string trellis that requires the beans to go in between two sets of string, just make sure you put them there gently.
4. Adjust As Your Beans Grow
Your pole beans might require some additional attention in their first stages of growing up the trellis. Try to adjust your gardening methods and adapt to the plants’ needs as they grow. This means changing your wearing patterns, adjusting the poles (if possible), and encouraging your pole beans as they are growing.
Sometimes, we can get really stubborn about where our plants are supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with doubling back and trying a new method or setting yourself up for more success next year. Even if you’re having a hard time with your trellis and pole beans, you can use this experience as a lesson next year!
What Are Pole Beans?
After reading all of the information above, you may be wondering if growing pole beans is worth it. Any seasoned gardener will tell you yes: not only are they a fantastic crop, but the backyard trellis makes your garden more aesthetically pleasing. So what are they exactly, and how can all this extra work be worth it?
Pole beans, also known as climbing beans, are a variety of beans that grow upward and climb. They produce pole beans that you can eat. Pole beans are easy to grow in all kinds of climates and soils.
The main difference between pole beans and regular green beans is how pole beans like to climb. Otherwise, they’re just as easy to grow as their green bean cousins.
You can even grow pole beans in poor soil. The only element that will make a significant difference is the trellis you will have to build to help these green beans thrive. However, there are many approaches when it comes to setting up these structures, as discussed above.
One thing I like about pole beans is the way you harvest them. It can be difficult on your back to sit on a stool and pick away at regular green beans, especially if you’re a backyard farmer growing a large crop. Pole beans are healthy, delicious, and give your back a little relief…after you’ve built them the proper trellis.
Additionally, if you’re into the aesthetic appeal of your garden, pole beans will really add a level of height to your space. However, if you find pole beans aren’t for you, any climbing plant will give you the same benefit.
Stringing up your pole beans doesn’t have to be an impossible task, but it can be tedious and require a bit more labor of love than other plants might. Pole beans grow quickly, are easy to harvest (especially when strung up!), and are extremely healthy. Planning this crop ahead of time will save you from lots of headaches in the future.
You can buy a trellis online for your green beans or build one yourself and make the structure tailored to your style and needs.