How To Build a Garden Trellis

Advice on trellis materials, design and building

A trellis is an outdoor frame that provides a place for climbing plants to grow. It can be as simple or complex as you like. Building your own garden trellis can be very rewarding, and it's much easier than you might think! This article outlines a plan for a very basic trellis.

  1. What kind of material should you use? You can use a durable wood, such as cedar or pressure-treated wood. These will require a bit of maintenance. You will want to seal them every few years to help protect from weather-related damage, especially if they are left outside year-round. If you use pressure-treated wood, be certain that is doesn't contain chemicals that are damaging for plants. You don't want a trellis that is lethal to the plants you're putting on it! You could also use vinyl, which requires practically no maintenance, but is more susceptible to sun damage. You can even use metals, such as copper or iron, although probably not for your first trellis project.
  2. What style of trellis will fit in with the rest of your garden? You can design a trellis in any style you like. Some are very complex and some are quite simple. Consider what style prevails in the rest of your garden. Is it very minimalist and clean, or do you have a cheerful and welcoming, but somewhat untidy garden? Chances are, if you find a design that you just love, it will fit in perfectly with the rest of your garden. After all, you designed the garden, too!
  3. What kind of plants will the trellis support? If you have small plants that twine around their support with tiny tendrils, you'll want to make sure the spacing on the trellis is close together. On the other hand, if you have vigorous, sturdy climbers, you'll need a trellis that's strong enough to provide support.
  4. Sketch your design on paper. Draft a simple design based on your answers to the questions above. Include details such as overall height, support spacing and the space in which it will need to fit. Think about location, too, as you can even use this new structure as an alternative fence option if the positioning is right.  how to build a trellis
  5. It's time to start building! The trellis that we'll talk about here is a simple fan. It's a very easy design to build. You can certainly alter this design to suit your garden!

    First, you'll need to purchase materials for your trellis. You'll need sixteen six-foot lengths of 1 x 1/4" pressure-treated wood. You'll also need your home and gardening tools, specifically, a table saw or hand saw, about fifty finish nails, and a hammer.

  6. Next, stack fifteen of the 1 x 1/4 pieces on top of each other. If they're not exactly the same length, trim them so that they are.
  7. Cut the remaining piece of lumber into three pieces--one four inches long, one sixteen inches long, and one thirty-six inches long.
  8. Measure twelve inches from one end of the stack of lumber. Attach the four-inch strip at this point, using a level to make sure you are attaching it at a ninety-degree angle to the strips. Use one nail for each strip. The four-inch strip should now be attached to the fifteen six-foot strips with fifteen nails. Measure twenty-four inches above the four-inch crossbar. Attach the sixteen-inch strip to the center strip with a nail, then space the remaining strips evenly along the rest of the crossbar, leaving a one-inch overhang on each side.
  9. Next, measure another twenty-four inches above the second strip. Attach the thirty-six inch strip just as before, again leaving a one-inch overhang on each side. Your trellis is finished! 
  10. Once you've completed the building portion of your project, dig a hole to plant your trellis. Insert the bottom of your trellis to the desired depth, then pack the dirt back in around it. Pack very tightly--you don't want your trellis to fall over with your precious plants in tow! Next, put your plants in the ground in front of the trellis support. They may need a bit of assistance at first to climb it, but soon, it should be covered with healthy, happy vines!


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