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Muscadine trellis design

Jonathan Ander

Joined: Sep 11, 2011
Posts: 17
I'm in North Texas, zone 7D or 8 depending on who you believe. Dallas area, heavy black clay soil that's probably pH 8-ish.

We have about 100' of south-facing fence and 30-40' of west-facing fence in our back yard. Solid wood fence, built less than a year ago. I don't want things growing right on the fence (allegedly will make it rot out a lot sooner due to moisture)... but I want to use that vertical space!

I have a general layout for the back yard constructed, and am dedicating approximately 3' of space along the edges of that fence line to vines. I'd like to have muscadine grapes inter-planted with scarlet runner beans. The beans will help boost the soil quality (reducing fertilization needs) and attract pollinators, as well as being a second food crop in the same space.

The standard layout I'm seeing for grapes & muscadines seems to involve 4x4 or 6x6 treated wood posts, about 6' high (I can go a bit higher due to yard layout, but need to keep it in reach), with one, or at most, two wires strung between them for the vines to grow on, and one grape vine every 20' or so.

This is what everyone's doing it, so I'm sure there are good reasons to do so... buuuuuuut.... has anyone tried putting more wires on to get a denser (if potentially less productive per square foot of leaf structure)? Co-planting runner beans (or any other vines) like I'm doing?

This seems like it'd also be more likely to shade out/discourage grass and other such "weeds" from growing at the ground-to-one-foot level under the vines (there will be sun there). Or should I plan on a ground-cover type plant?

There has got to be a better, more multi-function & multi-crop method of doing grapes/muscadines than the mono-crop type approach that seems to be "the way". Any experience?

If this is the wrong forum, please move the post.
Alder Burns

Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Posts: 878
Location: northern California
Having lived around a muscadine vineyard in GA, I think plain convenience may be the main reason for the "conventional" trellice design.....keeping the grapes at convenient height for picking while enabling a mower to get up under the canopy. In the wild muscadines go way up into the trees, so you could obviously lead them along any kind of support you want.
Scarlet runners are a bad choice for the South. They are a high-altitude plant in the wild and like cool summers, like England. If you want an annual legume vine, consider other pole beans, limas, vining cowpeas, or hyacinth beans..... You might also consider perennials, like groundnut.

Alder Burns (adiantum)
Jonathan Ander

Joined: Sep 11, 2011
Posts: 17
My understanding was that scarlet runner beans are a perennial in the south. Could be wrong, my wife did the research on that one. Any suggestions for other perennial groundcovers or vines that would work well with grapes?
Groundnuts require digging to harvest - not a good choice with the grape vines.
subject: Muscadine trellis design
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