What to attach grapevine to on balcony?
April 5, 2020 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I have a grapevine (planted in the ground) that finally made it up onto my balcony and is shading the table and chairs there as I had hoped. But it drapes ONTO the table and chairs, and I want it to kind of be up over them like an arbor. What should I attach it to and how?

Here is a photo.

I tried screwing some brackets into the eaves, and tying the vine on there. It works, kind of (it's just out of view on the left upper side of the photo), but it's clear the eaves aren't designed to take this much weight and the eaves boards have kind of popped out of the slot that usually holds them. I'm going to have to take that down again.

The whole length of the balcony is sliding glass doors and full length windows, but there is about 30cm of siding above the door before the roof. There's also a guttering along the edge of the roof, but I'm pretty sure that is also not designed to take the weight of hooks/brackets and grapevine. At each end of the balcony there's about a metre of house after the glass doors, so I could put a trellis or something against that. The siding seems to be some kind of wood composite. I'm not sure what's behind it, but going by the state of the rest of the house, I'm guessing it's cardboard held together by toothpaste.

I'm worried about drilling into the siding in case that leads to water getting in over time. But I guess that's what people do? So if I should attach something to the siding, what should that be? Some kind of trellis? A bracket? If so, please explain best practices for doing that without damaging the house.

And then I want the grapevine to run from the house over the top of the table and chairs to the other side (the right of the photo), which suggests to me I'd need to put some kind of lattice or pole on the balcony railing so I have something taller to attach the vine to or drape it over. What could that thing be and how would I attach it?

Extra points for something I can order online (Australia) because I'm not going to a hardware store right now. I have screws and nails and hammer and drill and saw etc already.
posted by lollusc to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Its a little hard to see from the photos where the vine originate and where you'd like it to go. To avoid drilling, I'd focus on affixing something to railing that gives you the space to go up. Something akin to a fence trellis topper like this, but without the bottom fencing boards. If you can basically run a couple posts up that frame the area you'd like to trellis the vines, you have lots of options from metal cross-hatches, cattle fencing material, ikea curtain wires...whatever your vibe is.

If you're handy at all, you could even construct something that's completely freestanding; two of these little buddies could easily string a tall trellis above them in a big upside-down U shape.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:50 PM on April 5, 2020

I've taken some more photos here. I basically want the vine to go over the table and chairs to provide shade, but high enough that people can still sit there and not have a vine brushing their heads. It currently snakes up the balcony at the far end, and I've draped it from hooks in the eaves as shown in the final photo in the album. This needs to come down.

I think you are right that a tall enough trellis or something between the table/chairs and the railing would let me drape the vine from where it currently climbs onto the balcony, over the top of the table, across to the new trellis. It would need to be just about as high as the roof, I think. How would I affix a tall trellis thing to the railing? (Please explain like I am five years old: I have little experience of these things). Could I maybe attach it somehow to the table? There isn't really room on the balcony to build a free-standing thing like your link, unfortunately - the table and chairs barely fit as it is.
posted by lollusc at 7:13 PM on April 5, 2020

I would do a couple sets of hose clamps or possibly thicker metal zip ties. Neither solution is pretty, but might get you enough stability to trellis up; I'd probably do 3 on each post, depending on thickness and how sturdy the railing is. Here's a quick sketch of what I was thinking. You can get some pretty burley hose clamps out there (this is not an AUS source, but a good place to find lots of different varieties of hardware once you know generally what you're looking for).

To attach vines to a trellis, you can get either plant tie tape, or plant wire-ties (searching for 'plant ties' will get you loads of options) even in trellis-available situations, plants often need training on that trellis; plant ties are the tool for the job for sure. I prefer tape, my wife prefers ties, but both work fine. This gives you much more control over the amount of shade the vines provide.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:38 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would get some bamboo poles, tie them to the balcony railing/balustrade (there’s your uprights) and then a string/wire between to make a trellis.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:50 PM on April 5, 2020

I would build a 'free-standing' trellis,kind of a pergola, configured to fit inside the balcony area. you can use zip-ties as you go along and get the thing in place, then use something along these lines for a final attachment.
Go ahead and do some pruning on the vines before you begin - it's not really the right time for a hard pruning over there, but you need to be able to see in order to work. After you get your structure in place, you can then begin to train the vines to go over in a pleasing fashion...use a soft tie, so it doesn't cut into the vine.
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:51 PM on April 5, 2020

You can ideas from furnace heart and From Bklyn, to strap bamboo poles to the railings with hose clamps.

This looks like a pretty good tutorial with information for supplies and how to do the lashings.

It's unclear right now if you need a solution for suspending the vine directly overhead yet, but you could potentially build a roof trellis with bamboo as well.
posted by itesser at 9:08 PM on April 5, 2020

I built a thing out of scraps of wood, rope and a metal garden stake that were already in my garage. It's not a long term solution but it should last a year or so until I can put together something more permanent. (And until I can go to an actual hardware shop to get supplies). It's not quite so shady now because the vines don't go over the top of the table, but I could probably rearrange them so they do, with a bit of effort.

The main thing was I could repair the gap in the eaves before birds or bees set up home in there!

Thanks for all the advice!
posted by lollusc at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2020

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