Our Grape Arbor


Several years ago I demolished a crumbling addition to the house (a room you had to go through the back bedroom to get to) and replaced it with an arbor. Our neighbor generously gave us the columns that used to be on her front porch and I added a plinth to make them taller. In the background are two apple trees that provide some privacy.


It’s taken a couple of years for the grapes to cover the structure. One reason is that we lost two vines to Pierce’s disease. Now we have two resistant varieties: Vitus Californica “Rogers Red” and Vitis vinifera x V. lambrusca “Pearl River” from LA’s most quirky nursery, Papaya Tree. The Pearl River grapes are tasty and show no signs of Pierce’s.


The adobe oven was the last addition. Pizza parties are a frequent occurrence underneath the arbor.

Do you have an arbor? What have you planted on it and how do you use the space underneath?

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  1. We have a pergola along the south side of the house, which means it runs the length of the house. I have it partly planted in Marechal Foch grapes, which are supposed to do well in clay. So far they’ve grown about a foot and a half and stopped, so we’ll just see how well they do.

    We’ve had this pergola for about three years now, and after the end of the rainy season, which is usually around the fourth of July, we’ve been covering it with reed fencing to give the back of the house some shade. The previous owner built a deck with Eon decking, which is a 100 percent plastic product HD used to sell. It absorbs heat and radiates it into the house like you wouldn’t believe, so keeping it cool is key to keeping the house tolerable, because we don’t have an air conditioner and don’t want to get one.

    The covered pergola is necessary because we set up a summer kitchen on the deck with a gas grill and gas camp stove so that I can cook outside instead of heating up the house with cooking in the kitchen. Someday I want to build a proper low-tech kitchen with a bread oven and a couple of rocket stoves.

  2. I have a grape arbor over my chicken run. It protects the chickens from aerial predators, provides shade, and they eat the drops. Seedless Concord grapes, (of course, I Iive 6 miles from Concord and Walden Pond!)

  3. My dad had a grape arbor behind the house when I was a child and I remember (misremember?) that it was a mosquito magnet. Has this been the experience of any of you arbor-owners?

  4. I have two pergolas. The one in the front of the house has two Himrod grapes very well established. I get a tremendous amount of fruit off of them if I can keep the raccoons off. Another pergola out our back sliding door has wisteria on it. the wisteria blooms heavily in the spring and then blooms several more times through the summer.

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