Small-production gardeners who grow hops for personal use can make the most of a backyard space by planting hops along a fence. The University of Vermont Extension System recommends that beginning growers plant hops along a fence to test whether they enjoy growing hops before they install expensive trellis systems. Gardeners should choose a sunny fence area, and hops will naturally grow up the fence.
Side of Building Trellis
Hops will grow up the side of a building if gardeners add some sort of support, such as criss-crossed wires on the side of the building or a traditional wooden trellis next to the building side. This method works well for gardeners who want to grow a small to medium-sized amount of hops in an area with limited space. Make sure the chosen building surface gets sunlight throughout the day.
18-Foot Traditional Trellis
Traditional commercial hops trellises usually are around 18 feet tall with about 7 feet spacing between rows, according to the USDA and University of Vermont Extension System. These tall trellises consist of tall wooden poles stuck at least a few feet into the ground with sturdy wires strung horizontally and vertically between them. They allow producers to grow hops using a lot of vertical space, so that they get large harvests from a relatively small amount of land. A downside to 18-foot trellises is that they require a lot of labor to pick hops from such tall heights.
Recent research has been showing that hops growers might make more money by using trellises somewhat shorter than the traditional 18-foot trellises, because shorter trellises cut labor costs. The USDA estimates that 10-foot trellises can cut labor costs on hops farms by 30 percent, and the University of Vermont Extension Service found that 13-foot trellises work well. These shorter trellises are built in the same way as the taller trellises, but they require less work stringing the hops along the top wires and picking the hops from tall heights.
Decorative Archway or Wooden Trellis
Some gardeners like to have an attractive green archway or wooden trellis in the garden, and hops will easily grow up either of these trellis types. Growers should simply make sure the hops have lots of sunlight and moist soil.