A trellis can be a great addition to your garden. They are used to give support to climbing plants, vegetables and flowers, and can be a very attractive feature. Sweet peas love to climb, and look wonderful – a mass of flowers, rainbow bright – trailing on a trellis. Tomatoes, vines, and many plants can also be trained to climb up a trellis, or need support when they are bearing fruit.
It is quite simple to build your own wooden trellis. It’s a great weekend project for any gardening enthusiast or DIY fan.
There are many materials that can be used to build a trellis, such as copper, wire mesh, bamboo, nylon, plastic and even stringing together two bicycle wheels. The general idea when building a trellis is to build a stronger frame, that will support the weight of the inner-lattice structure, and the plants that will grow on it.
1. What Type Of Trellis Do You Want to Build?
The basic principle is the same for all styles of the trellis. You are building a frame, and constructing a lattice inside, but you need to chose what shape, and how big your trellis will be. You also need to consider whether it will lean against a wall, be attached to a wall, or be freestanding.
A trellis can be flat, and attached to a wall, lean against a wall, or, it can be a four sided ‘obelisk’ that looks a little like a tee-pee, and can stand in a vegetable garden. A trellis can also be built as an A-frame, a ladder design, or be smaller, and fit into a planter.
Remember that if you build a freestanding trellis you need to extend the bottom ‘legs’ of the trellis, as they will need to go into the ground. You will not need to do this, if you are attaching the trellis to a wall, or building a trellis that can be moved, like the A-frame.
2. What Type of Wood Should You Use?
You can use many types of wood to build a garden trellis. You can re-purpose a wooden pallet, or use wooden poles, timber, or buy already made cedar lattice panels. Depending on the climate, and the pests in your garden, you may need to pre-treat the wood.
Termites, ants, and water can leach into your trellis if you live in a damp area or tropical climate. Treating the wood, painting it, or varnishing it, can help to weatherproof your lattice. Remember that you will be watering your plants, and that, even if you don’t live in a particularly humid area, your lattice will be exposed to the sunshine, water, and the elements.
You can pretreat your lattice, once it is built, but you may choose to paint it or varnish the wooden pieces before you attach them to the frame. Painting a long straight piece of wood is much more efficient than trying to paint into a frame if the lattice design you have chosen is more detailed. (It could look messy, and waste paint.)
3. What Tools Will You Need?
You will need a screwdriver, screws, a hammer, nails, wood glue, wood clamps, sandpaper, brushes, paint, varnish, and newspaper. Give yourself plenty of room to build your trellis. You may also need a saw – electric or a hand saw if you are cutting timber.
Remember to use gloves, and safety goggles if you are cutting timber. If you are driving wooden poles into the ground, you may also need a sledgehammer. You could also build a wooden frame, and then use plastic netting inside, or metal wire, to make the lattice.
You will need to think about where you are putting the trellis, and what the purpose is. If you are building a trellis for your vegetable garden, then a simple frame and square style lattice could be sufficient, but if you are looking for something more stylish than you should look at ‘chevron’ patterns, or ‘V’ shapes, and more professionally looking trellis.
4. Position Of Your Trellis: Don’t Kill Your Plants!
You can also place your trellis perpendicular to a wall – this means that you can use both sides of the trellis – and use the trellis as a divider. A trellis can be used as a privacy screen too, and also be used to make shade.
Remember that your plants need the sunshine to grow too. Put some thought into the position of your trellis in the garden, relative to the needs of your plants.
If you have a garden that receives full sunshine, you will need to angle your trellis so that your plants still receive maximum sunlight.
The position of your trellis matters -your trellis has to meet its function without hampering the growth of your plants. Also remember that while you may prefer to build a trellis that leans against a wall, or is attached to the wall – that your wall may be too hot for your plants!
Plants do not enjoy being too hot, and walls absorb heat and reflect light – you may be providing support for your plants, but unintentionally creating terrible conditions for them. If the wall is too hot, even with a trellis, they will scorch, and not flourish.
Choose the right position for your trellis, and remember that a wall may be too hot!
5. Set Your Trellis In Concrete
Do you plan on moving the trellis, or is it going to be a permanent structure in your garden? Setting it into concrete will make it very sturdy. You can choose to build your trellis this way, but only if you are sure about making it a permanent fixture.
You can erect two main fence poles and then attach the frame. You will need to dig two holes, and fill them with gravel, and then fill with concrete, then place the posts into the concrete and allow to set, completely, before attaching the lattice frame.
You can also build the trellis, onto the poles, depending on the design of your lattice, as you go. For example, if you are making a ladder style trellis, then you can simply nail the panels onto the poles.
6. Galvanized Nails, Screws and Bits ‘n’ Bobs
You should use material that will withstand the outdoor weather conditions. Galvanized nails and screws are coated, and will not rust as easily. Metal oxidizes with air and makes rust. Water and sunlight will affect metal too.
Building a trellis is a relatively simple task. You need to choose the right materials, and a design that suits both your plants and will also look stylish in your garden. You need to plan the design on paper first and work out the exact measurements, for the trellis. Be sure to make the frame stronger, and to decide what type of lattice design you prefer.
You need to weatherproof your trellis- stain, varnish, or paint your trellis – to protect it from water damage, and sunlight. Wood can rot too, it will rain, and you will be watering your plants, so it needs extra protection.
A garden trellis can be a beautiful feature for any garden and creates more space in a smaller garden too. A small trellis can be built too, to go into planters, or set into concrete, as a permanent structure. Where you position the trellis is very important!
Be sure to assess the amount of heat that may be reflected off a wall, before attaching a trellis to it. It may be too hot for your plants to flourish, and be happy!
Danny L. Montgomery is the founder and owner of the blog zukzik.com. He loves all things DIY & Home Decor. If you liked this article, be sure to check out his site!