If you’re looking for a way to grow more tomatoes in less space, creating a tomato archway is a visually pleasing way to accomplish your goal. Growing tomatoes on an arch-shaped trellis is ideal for unspecified or vining varieties which can reach 8 to 10 feet (2-3 m.) or more and continue to grow until killed by frost.
Benefits of an Arched Tomato Trellis
Many gardeners are aware growing tomatoes directly on the ground exposes the fruit to damp soil, animals, and insects. Not only are the tomatoes dirtier, but they are often damaged by hungry critters. In addition, it’s easy to overlook ripe tomatoes hidden by foliage or, worse yet, step on the fruit as you try to maneuver around the garden.
Staking or caging tomatoes reduces these problems, but growing tomatoes on an arch has greater benefits. A tomato archway is pretty much how it sounds. It’s a curved, tunnel-like structure, anchored on both sides with sufficient height under which one can walk. The height of an arched tomato trellis allows the vines to grow up the side and overhead. Here are a few reasons why this is beneficial:
- Easier to harvest – No more bending, twisting, or kneeling to pick tomatoes. The fruit is highly visible and within reach.
- Improved yields – Less fruit wasted due to damage or disease.
- Maximizes space – Removing suckers allows vines to be grown closer.
- Improved air circulation – Tomato plants are healthier, and fruit is less prone to disease.
- Increased sunlight – As the tomato grows up the trellis it receives more exposure to the sun, especially in gardens where shade is an issue.
How to Make a Tomato Arch
It’s not difficult to make a tomato arch, but you will need to use sturdy supplies to support the weight of the mature tomato vines. You can build a permanently arched tomato trellis between two raised beds or make one for the garden which can be installed and taken apart each year.
The tomato archway can be built from wood or heavy-weight fencing. Treated lumber is not recommended for this project, but naturally decay-resistant wood like cedar, cypress, or redwood is a good choice. If you prefer fencing material, select livestock panels or concrete mesh for their durable wire diameter.
Regardless of the materials you choose, the basic design of the tomato archway is the same. T-posts, available at big box home improvement stores or farm supply companies, are used to support and secure the structure in the ground.
The number of T-posts required will depend upon the length of the structure. Support every two to four feet (about 1 m.) is recommended to make a tomato arch. Aim for a tunnel width between four and six feet (1-2 m.) to give the arched tomato trellis sufficient height to walk under yet provide enough strength to support the vines.