As with all plants, correct soil pH is critical to healthy growth. Ideally, you’ll check pH the year before you plan to plant grapevines. Use a soil meter, available at many hardware stores or nurseries, or have your soil tested at your county extension service.
Grapevines grow best in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7, so add any soil amendments indicated by testing. Whenever you add your amendments, make sure to mix them well into the soil at the site you’ve selected for your grapevines.
Grapes tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, from sandy to clay, but good drainage is essential. Also important is a site that gets full sun, or at least morning sun. A small amount of afternoon shade won’t hurt. Make sure you’ve cleared the area of weeds and grass, so there’s no competition for nutrients and water.
If possible, choose a site that’s sheltered from winter winds and removed from frost pockets. The site should offer good air circulation—don’t crowd your grapes in with a lot of other plants, especially as the vine is going to need plenty of room to grow.
Your new vine will require training on a trellis, arbor, or fence—so, make sure you’ve got that in place first. You can even use a stake pounded into the ground to start, and add more stakes and wires between them later as the vine shoots grow.
If you’re planting more than one vine, space them according to variety. The less vigorous table types and the more vigorous wine varieties should be planted 6 to 8 feet apart. Muscadine grapes should be planted 12 to 15 feet apart.
Have you had success growing grapes in your backyard? What kind of site did you choose? Please tell us how you picked your site for planting grapes.