Grapevines grow in the wild without any care or attention. It may seem that grapevines do not need specific care, but those who want a bountiful grape harvest do well to properly nurture their outdoor grapevines. Grapevines will not likely produce much fruit the first two seasons, but by the third season, the hard work of the home gardener pays off in the form of sweet, delicious grapes. A few basic principles and tools lead to healthy grapes.
Select a location to plant your grapevines. Grapevines thrive in warm climates, in full sun. In addition to choosing a sunny location, find a spot with well-draining soil.
Plant your grapevines. If planting multiple grapevines, space them with at least 6 feet between the plants. Dig holes deep and wide enough to spread out the roots. Put rocks in the bottom of the holes before adding the plants. The rocks help the soil drain. Cover the roots completely with soil.
Water your grapes by hand daily for the first three months. A watering can works well. If using a hose, reduce the water pressure so the force of the water does not erode the soil around the plant. Reduce watering to three times a week after the first few months. During extremely hot temperatures, water daily once again until the weather cools. Ample water during hot weather leads to juicy and sweet grapes.
Wrap the grapevines around a support structure. Some good options include stakes, poles, wires stretched between poles, trellises or fences.
Prune the grapevines. Prune during the dormant season when the grapevines look like dead wood. Pruning increases fruit production. Though it is not essential to prune the first season, grapevines require pruning every year starting with the second year.
Fertilize the grapevines. Fertilization the first year encourages growth. Use fertilizers that contain potassium, zinc and nitrogen. Fertilize mature grapevines only when the soil lacks nutrients. Feeding mature plants causes bushy growth, but small fruit.
Cover your grapes with netting to keep birds from eating the grapes. Netting is the only defense against losing all of the grapes to wild birds.