The Best Homemade Tomato Cages

Forget flimsy, store-bought products. Build your own sturdy, low-cost tomato cages with these four terrific designs!

| April/May 2011

Tomato Trellis and Wooden Cage

One of the simplest tomato cages is a rigid metal livestock panel used as a trellis. Another option: Build these simple wooden “tomato ladders.” They’re easy to construct from scrap wood and can be folded up for easy storage. 


You’ll enjoy a bigger tomato harvest if you use stakes or tomato cages to help your plants grow vertically, saving space in the garden while keeping fruits off the ground, preventing rot. Store-bought tomato cages tend to be flimsy and too small. For a sturdier option, consider building your own. We think these four plans are especially good choices for creating durable, low-cost tomato cages. Find the best fit for your garden and start building! (The cost estimates for each design are based on current prices from Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Co.)

Livestock Panel Trellis

Rigid metal livestock panels (sold at farm stores) make a strong, durable trellis. Simply stand up the panels and attach them to steel T-posts, and you’re on your way to your own wall of tomatoes (see illustration). Livestock panels typically come in 16-foot lengths, but with a pair of bolt cutters or a hacksaw, you can cut them to whatever length you want.

As the tomatoes grow, weave the plants between the openings of the panel for better support. You can use the panels for other crops, including beans, cucumbers and peas. You can even bend the panels to make a trellised archway, which you can cover with plastic for use as a cheap greenhouse or livestock shelter.


  • One 16-foot livestock panel
  • Steel T-posts (use one for about every 4 to 6 feet of panel) 

Estimated cost: about $2 per tomato plant (assumes four T-posts, plus $20 for a 16-foot panel, with 18 tomato plants spaced 2 feet apart on both sides)

Complete instructions: See Vertical Gardening Techniques for Maximum Returns.

6/17/2015 11:55:34 AM

I have used the concrete mesh for years. Each basket is about 30-36 inches in diameter. The wire is heavy enough to not collapse and the holes are big enough to reach in and pull out the fruit. But even at 5 feet tall, they are still too short and the plants get bunched at the top. For this reason, if I were to do it again, I would create a zig-zag fence out of the same mesh, and plant the tomatoes between the panels, then just continue to run the branches horizontally as necessary. Another option would be to make a bunch of linkable panels out of the mesh; this would allow a much more compact storage during the off-season (but would be less rigid). I also use these for my cucumbers!

6/13/2015 7:39:25 AM

260 field wire 48" x 28" diameter cages work great. Been using them for about 30 yrs now. I put 3 legged small cages over plants to start then when big enough apply 48" x 28" diameter cages. This gives me time to fertilize and control weeds, This year only planted 60 Better Boys, 30 Early Girls and 30 Rudgers. T post every 4 or 5 cages with wire thro cage to each post holds plants up very good in high winds. In south Georgia I always plant garden on Good Friday, on 6-13-15 we have had fresh tomatoes,Early Girls, and cucumbers for about 2 weeks now and today will be picking Better Boys. Love my matoe sandwich, one slice cover slice of bread

5/20/2015 10:59:14 PM

I love the wire mesh tomato cages I built! No worries about having them blow over if you remove the wire that is at the bottom of your completed tower. Snip it off with your wire cutters. You are then left with a series of 4" spikes, 4" apart, all around the base of your cage. Set the tower in place, then push the spikes into the ground firmly with your foot.Much more wind proof than the tiny "tomato cages" from your nearby big box store!

3/24/2015 2:31:04 PM

Sometimes cattle or hog panels are really cheap if damaged.Offer a price. I use bolt cutters to cut two square wide panels for the sides of tomato cages. I assemble the vertical sides together forming a tower, cutting the bottom horizontal bars off to form "stakes" to push into the ground.I use hog nose rings to assemble the side and since they are brass and the panels are galvanized my 5 1/2 towers fold flat for storage and have been in use for 15 years with no further cost. cutting the towers in half height-wise these cages are used for broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and other bush vegetables.

greg west
4/17/2013 4:36:56 PM

I'm like Don RAHM, I also use concrete wire. I have cages that are at leats six years old and still doing good. I leave mine the full five feet tall because Big Boys,Better Boys,Early Girls etc will fill out the entire cage. I cut my wire in 7.5 ft lenght and leave a piece of wire sticking out from the next square to fold in when I roll it up. Works out nice and you have a nice size tomato cage that will last for years.

mary richter
4/17/2013 3:55:44 PM

I got the cattle fence. I like it so much better than the round cages. They take up too much space. I bought 1 last year and had it cut in half and got another this year. They also hold up a lot better than round commercial tomato cages. I like the straight line and now have the peas and beans growing on them.

david little
4/19/2012 8:10:54 PM

I have an inexpensive version... Ask your local hardware store, or any company that has a lot of palleted materials shipped to them if they have any longer shaped skids that they would like to get rid of (most always free). Usually, skids are 4 feet by 4 feet, and most delivery companies like to get those back for future shipments. The longer ones usually end up in a pile behind the buildings. I've gotten some 6 and 8 feet long. I use t-posts to hold them up -- one post on each end, and one between each skid -- all depending how long the row is going to be. I usually put them on a slight angle, which helps create a shaded area for the Lettuce and Spinach or other delicate veggies that don't like the heat.

mary g
6/29/2011 9:50:56 AM

Another option that is simpler and cheaper, and works very well, is to use fence T-posts spaced about every 2 to 4 plants, depending on size of plants. Then run twine horizontally from post to post, starting about a foot off the ground. Run the twine once on each side of plants. Then run twine again on both sides about a foot higher, and keep going as high as you need. Gradually coax your plants to grow between the twine, or just add a row of twine as the plants grow. You can also use bamboo stakes instead of every other T-post, but all bamboo doesn't seem strong enough for our vigorous plants! We learned this method from Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville, VA.

don rahm
6/19/2011 10:18:40 PM

I used 4'x 8' panels of concrete reinforcing mesh to make my cages. I cut the panels in half and rolled into a circle and attached with the cut wires. Each cage cost about $4 by memory, the cages are now 4 years old and still work fine.

6/17/2011 7:34:24 PM

Hi, I would like to know if there are any suggestions for a design that could make these cages monkey proof as where I am at, monkeys raid our gardens making it impossible to grow tomatoes or anything else that they like !

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