How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee for a Kids Garden

How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee

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How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee

This post contains affiliate links.We made our first bean pole teepee 8 years ago when Maia was a toddler and I was obsessed with Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots. Maia is no longer little, but I still love Sharon Lovejoy’s beautiful book on gardening with kids. The ideas and book are both magical and functional. Plus there’s a lot of good, basic information on gardening that’s both instructional and motivational.

But I’m getting off on a tangent…

Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy

I bring up Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, because that’s where I first got the idea for a bean pole teepee.

I took inspiration from her Moon Garden and her Garden of Giants but went super simple. Our first couple teepees were covered with beans and Heavenly Blue morning glories. And we had one with yard long beans. But for the most part, we’ve made this about the beans (to cover the teepee fort and as a way to grow and trellis them). It’s amazing how quickly the bean plants cover the teepee structure once they get going in the warm weather. But we also enjoy the teepee before the beans provide a living fort.

Our Bean Pole Teepees Over the Years

Sometimes we cover it with fabric temporarily. The kids have had fun weaving ribbons and yarn in and out of the teepee like a fort loom. And they’ve added flowers from around the garden for temporary decoration.

Anyway, the kids have requested a bean pole teepee again this year, so as I started planning it, I thought I’d put together a post on how to make one. It’s quite easy. And so rewarding!

How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee

MATERIALS

*Bamboo and wood poles can be purchased at garden supply and hardware stores. If you’re lucky, though, you can find someone with an overly vigorous grove of bamboo (aren’t they all?) who would be more than happy to have you cut and take some longer poles. 

INSTRUCTIONS

First, determine teepee size and location. Loosely assemble the bamboo poles in the teepee shape (without tying them yet), both to see if you like how it looks in the location you’ve picked (as sunny as possible!), to decide on a doorway, and to figure out the size of the footprint. If you’re okay with the size and location, mark the teepee footprint with string, a garden hose, or with a line of flour. Move the teepee poles out of the way.

Prepare the Soil for the Bean Pole Teepee

Remove the sod from the horseshoe-shaped teepee footprint and amend the soil for planting. I like to dig in some compost or composted cow manure (to add nutrients) and some Nature’s Helper (to help loosen my heavy, clay soil.

Next, assemble your teepee poles, pushing the bottom ends into the amended soil, and tying the top ends together. If you have boy scout experience, you’ll probably make some simple yet indestructible knot. If you’re like me, you’ll just wind it around a bunch of times, tie it as many ways as you can think, and then wonder why it looks more like a birds’ nest than a sailor knot.

Add Twine to Bean Pole Teepee

Now, add twine to the bamboo pole framework. Tie off the end of your twine at the top of one of the poles and, working your way around and down the teepee, create a trellis system for the pole beans to grow up. You’ll pull the twine tautly from one pole to the next, wrap it around that pole, then pull it tightly over to the next pole, etc. When you reach the doorway, reverse direction back around the teepee, until the entire teepee, except for the door, is covered with a network of twine. The final stretch of twine should be close enough to the ground that the baby bean seedlings will be able to reach their climbing support without too much problem.

Plant Pole Bean Seeds on Garden Teepee

Finally, plant your bean seeds! Follow the directions on your seed packet, but here are general directions for planting beans. After danger of frost is past (and preferably when it’s warm with night temps staying above 55 degrees fahrenheit), plant seeds 1 inch deep and about 3-4 inches apart. (Add a legume inoculant, if desired. We do if we have it. They seem to grow fine when we don’t.) Cover with soil, pat down firmly, and water well.

You can also add other seeds or seedlings at this time, either other annual vines, such as morning glories, that will climb up the teepee, or other low-growing annuals such as marigolds or nasturtiums, that will form a visual base to the teepee. The beans should sprout after about a week.

Keep the bean seedlings well watered and help guide them to the base of the teepee if they seem to need it. Progress may seem slow at first, but once they get going you will be surprised at how quickly the beans cover your teepee structure. Take regular photos of the progress, just for fun!

How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee

Use the bean pole teepee as a play area, fort, or reading nook at any stage of bean growth.

Harvest the beans! Once your bean plants start producing beans (after about 60 days), pick them! Keep the beans picked so that the plants continue to produce them.

When your beans are finished for the season and start to turn ugly and tan, you can either pull down the entire structure (as I usually do) or clip the twine and bean plants off the teepee framework and toss them in the compost.

So! Now that you know how to make a bean pole teepee, are you going to do it? It’s really quite easy and very rewarding! We’ve been growing these almost every year and the kids keep asking for a repeat, so I highly recommend it.

Plus it’s just a good way to grow beans!

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How to Make a Bean Pole Teepee for a Kids Garden

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Kim Andrews
    April 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots. Is a favorite in our home too! So many wonderful ideas. We will be trying the bean pole teepee this year! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 13, 2016 at 5:17 am

      Isn’t it such a wonderful book, Kim?! Enjoy your bean pole teepee!

  • Reply
    Louise
    April 13, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Do you have problems with slugs?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      We don’t, Louise, but if they’re a problem with your beans, I think there are some remedies out there you could try.

  • Reply
    Jamie
    April 25, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Do you mow inside the teepee? Mulch?

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    May 11, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    My daughters recently played in a teepee like this at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and they absolutely loved it. We’re in the process of moving to St. Louis, but once we get settled, I can’t wait to try and recreate this in our backyard!

  • Reply
    Bev R.
    March 17, 2017 at 2:10 am

    I would NOT recommend planting Morning Glory vine; you can never get rid of it once it takes hold.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      March 24, 2017 at 8:54 am

      It depends on what kind and where you live, Bev. The kinds I plant don’t do that.

  • Reply
    Kate
    January 15, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Ooooooh, we’re moving to a property with a little space and I CANNOT wait to try this! Thank you for sharing your creative idea.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      January 16, 2018 at 4:26 am

      You’re so welcome, Kate! I hope you and your family enjoy your bean pole teepee!

  • Reply
    Gretchen Welles
    March 14, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    I the early 90’s I made a teepee simular to the polebean idea. I used the beautiful blue morning glory and another variety of morning glory called moon flower. This blooms at night!
    So our teepee had blossoms day and night. At night our daughter would go out with a flashlight to see the moths gathered on the flowers. It was a fun place for the girls to read, talk, and play with their dolls.

  • Reply
    SW
    July 11, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Hi there- wondering, how many bean plants did you have at the base of each pole?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      July 12, 2018 at 4:13 am

      A few. Maybe 3-4 at the base of each pole, partly in case any of them don’t grow.

  • Reply
    Jessie Colmer
    July 12, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Hi there,

    Random question, but just wondering where you found the gorgeous font for the “BEAN POLE TEEPEE” on your pinterest post? It’s just what I’ve been looking for!

    Thanks so much

    Jess

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    January 11, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    I love this so much! We are getting ready to do one of these in our yard. I was searching for instructions when I came across your blog. I have seen some with branches laced around the poles but don’t entirely know how I could make that happen. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    Ellen M Bloomingdale
    April 3, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    How many poles did you use?

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