Garden trellis is probably the most undercelebrated piece of garden equipment you can buy, so I want to try and change that. There are so many ways to use garden trellis beyond simple fence extensions.
In this article, I want to explore the different ways to use a trellis in your garden to build new spaces, make the most of existing plants, and how you can transform small spaces in no time using a few simple trellis hacks.
What is Garden Trellis?
A Garden trellis is a perforated fence panel that comes in all shapes, sizes, lengths and materials. Traditionally, trellis was used for climbing plants like roses and jasmine, making an ideal support structure that allowed for aeration and lateral growth of sprawling plants so they could be seen from all angles.
Garden Trellis Buying Guide
What to Look for When Buying a Garden Trellis
There are only two real considerations when buying a garden trellis besides visual appeal; durability and height. The most common reason to buy garden trellis is to add height to fences, and for that, both durability and height are important considerations.
Firstly, some states have planning laws that restrict fencing to 8ft around properties without additional consent, and in those states that allow trellising at all heights, it needs to be durable, safe, and well fitted.
For that, you’ll need sturdy, long-lasting trellis materials, and durable fixing that won’t wear with age and poor weather.
Traditional trellis is made from hardwoods, or treated softwoods, but modern trellising can be made from all sorts of clever materials including cast metals and recycled plastics. Any materials can look good but consider your uses.
Twining plants like clematis or honeysuckle are happy on any material, but if you want to grow ivy, Virginia creeper or jasmine, they like timber or natural materials so they can anchor in with their roots, which appear whenever the plant decides it needs to support.
Tip: Although popular opinion states that icy and jasmine can damage render, their roots are purely anchoring, so do not damage the surface they hold on to.
Those roots are simply for anchorage and do not go in search of water unless you prune the plant at ground level.
(Check out our review of the best pruning shears here)
Trellis look great at any height, and can be used as fences in their own right with 6-8ft trellis, or added to existing fences to add privacy, or support plants using 1-2ft widths of the trellis.
Trellis needs fixing properly wherever you place it. While trellis allows air to pass through so doesn’t catch the wind in the same way as solid fencing, once plants grow through it can act as a sail, so needs to be well secured into the ground, or onto a wall or fence.
For timber trellis, choose a design that can be easily screwed into solid timber or concrete posts. For metal or plastic trellis ensure it has a sturdy frame with proper fixings.
If a timber trellis breaks it’s relatively easy to fix, if a cast plastic or metal trellis breaks, it’s much harder to fix.
How to Use a Garden Trellis
Garden trellis is perfect for climbing plants, providing most with support regardless of their growth habit. For clematis, morning glory, or annual climbers the trellis is enough to support them without additional considerations as they send out tendrils which clasp onto the timber, or wind themselves around.
For clematis and honeysuckle, it’s important to wrap them clockwise around your trellis to begin with as they will always twine clockwise regardless of how they are started. This helps give them proper support in the long term.
For other climbers like roses or climbing hydrangeas and some forms of jasmine, it’s important to regularly prune your climbing shrubs and tie them in with twine.
Check out our growing guides for more details on the plants mentioned above:
Best Garden Trellis in Australia
1. vidaXL Iron Garden Arch
This huge garden arch is perfect for creating a scented entrance to the garden. Simply secure it into the ground, and plant roses and jasmine up through the bar. This welded iron structure gives a real sense of instant permanence to a space, and for a really good price too.
2. Wooden Garden Arch Gate for Climbing Plants
For a hard landscaped garden that still wants to add colour and scent with a trellis, this trellis archway with integrated planters is perfect. Simply plonk it down on your patio for an instant garden revival that will give you years of structure.
3. Collections Etc Green Leaf Trellis
I adore this simple garden trellis from Collections Etc. whose simple design is perfect for a contemporary patio, either inserted into a pot, with annual climbers or out in the border as a garden decoration in its own right.
Products like this are where trellis starts to become artwork, and it’s less about choosing something for its practical value, and more for what it adds as an ornament. I like that ambiguity, but for some gardeners, it might feel like it's competing with the plants themselves.
4. Savannah Composite Vinyl Garden Trellis
Wood composite is sadly maligned in our gardens, but I think it deserves another chance. Plastics are obviously bad, as a species, we’ve started to understand that, but when those plastics become permanent and are appreciated as part of long-term décor it’s a much better use than single-use bottles, and brings joy into the heart of the garden.
The real benefit of this composite trellis from Savannah though is its durability. Climb tough plants through it like bougainvillaea or honeysuckle and it’ll last for decades, not years.
5. Garden Arch Iron Window Door Trim Wall-Mounted Trellis
Who says trellis has to be 2D? This window or door arch is a gorgeous way to train climbing plants up around windows and doors without any ground support at all. Simply attach it firmly to brickwork for a permanent trellis that looks utterly stunning.
6. Espalar Surface Mounted Heavy Duty Universal Espalier and Trellis Kit
If you’ve not come across espaliered trees before, you’re about to read something life-changing… You can grow almost four times as much fruit on properly trained trees in tiny spaces using clever pruning, and training across diagonal surfaces.
While espalier just means ‘to grow flat’, and can include trees with square canopies, the real benefit is when trees are planted diagonally and trained up vertical walls. It means they can grow taller and have their branches pruned out annually so their entire energy goes into new, annual fruiting, rather than branching, and foliage, giving much higher yields.
This simple espalier kit gives you everything you need to get started with espalier trees on solid walls or fences.
7. Mersunt Garden Trellis Supports
Trellis doesn’t have to be flat, or even attach to a wall. These small upright trellises give plants 360 support and are particularly great for young trees, and annual vegs like tomatoes or annual flowering plants like Gaura which benefit from informal support like this, rather than being trained onto specific verticals.
8. Amagabeli Large Garden Trellis
These free-standing garden trellises are gorgeously ornate, with a subtle trim of seated birds running along a central vine. They are utterly perfect for a formal rose garden or can be sanded back for a more weathered look in more naturalistic planting schemes where morning glory or clematis weave through the planting.
9. Garden Land Expandable Garden Trellis Plant Support
Expandable trellis is always a good idea when you’re buying online because you can adjust the height and width dramatically if you’re unsure of the fit in your garden.
These willow supports are hard-wearing and will last for years, but more importantly, are able to create subtle curves around beds, patios or lawn edges, so climbing plants can create winding hedges.
10. CANAGROW Heavy-Duty Garden Plant Trellis Netting
And last, but by no means least, our favourite budget trellis, which might not look like much, but is perfect for the veggie patch, and costs next to nothing.
This heavy-duty trellis netting is perfect for tomatoes, beans, and any climbing vegetables, so if you’re looking for practical plant supports, look no further than this simple solution.
10 Garden Trellis Ideas to Switch up Your Garden Design
Below, we’ve got eleven incredible garden trellis ideas that will completely transform your garden. There is truly no faster way to make big changes in the garden than by using a garden trellis.
We’ve split the ideas below into groups, so you can make your own DIY garden trellis, or use a store-bought trellis for an instant switch up:
DIY Trellis ideas
Making your own garden trellis is easy, and it means you can create the perfect trellis to match your own garden, as well as make the most of materials that you might otherwise throw away.
Upcycle bed frames as garden trellis
Old metal bed frames make beautiful trellises, either low down to create separate seating areas (prairie fencing style) or attached to walls and fences to add more ornate height on a budget.
To make the most of your old bed frames, discard the slats and lengths for other projects, and use just the headboard and the foot of the bed. Keep the legs in place as these are useful to attach straight onto walls.
- For masonry or timber walls, drill parallel holes and fit wall plugs the same width as the legs of the bed.
- Drill matching holes through the legs of the bed.
For hollow-legged bed frames, push timber into the tube for strength.
- Get someone to hold the bed frame in position, and screw it through into the wall.
- Plant some climbers in holes twice the width of the root ball, and twine them onto the bed frame above.
Old roofing battens make great trellis
The best material to build trellis from is timber. It’s easy to work with and has limitless possibilities. For a contemporary twist on traditional timber trellis, use roofing battens (2x1”) to build your own slatted trellis.
Horizontal trellises give beautiful dappled light and add privacy to the garden, but it’s just as easy to create diagonal slats or cross hatches like traditional trellis.
If you’ve got leftover timber from DIY projects this is the perfect way to make the most of it in the garden.
Instant trellis with chicken wire
Now I might be on my own here, but I love the look of chicken wire. There’s something about the industrial materials that just seems to suit any garden.
Framing chicken wire well is important to get it looking good though, so it doesn’t end up flopped over the wall like an old mash of barbed wire, which isn’t good for you or your plants.
- Create a sturdy frame out of treated timber, making sure the edges are crisp.
- Stain or paint the frame in a colour that matches your fence or ties in with the garden.
- Staple chicken wire tightly across the back of the frame.
- Attach the frame to the wall or fence using outdoor screws.
Note: This method can be adapted for free-standing trellis, or made for simple veggies plots by threading chicken wire through bamboo canes, or stapling it onto old pallets.
Upcycle branches to create rustic trellis
You can go as ornate as you like with this. Weaving old branches from trees pruned in your own garden is the perfect way to make the most of this free material. Either weaving, or tying in with twine, you can create incredibly ornate structures or simple cross-hatch effect trellis.
Screwing the timber in when it’s freshly cut helps it to seal over too, making it much longer-lasting thanks to the natural saps which act as glue around the screws.
How to Use Garden Trellis for the Biggest Impact
If you’ve got an area of the garden that needs revamping or a little bit more of its own identity, trellis is perfect to change things up. Below, we’ll look at how to use shop-bought trellis to create an instant change.
Revamp old walls with garden trellis
Trellis might be primarily for climbers, but it’s also a great way to hide old walls you no longer like the look of, or add depth to painted timber walls.
By attaching trellis straight onto the house, you create depth and give space for roses and jasmine to climb without having to screw anything extra into the wall.
Using trellis like this also means you don’t have to splash out on green wall systems, which can be much more expensive, and provided you’re happy to twine on roses every year you’ll need to water much less than other types of green wall.
Create garden rooms using trellis
The idea of garden rooms is that you can create the illusion of more space by creating several smaller spaces in one garden. Traditionally, this was done with hedging, but by planting trellis into the ground on treated timber posts you can get the same privacy and separation in your garden as fully grown hedges, without having to wait for 5-10 years for hedges to establish from saplings.
Use roses or ivy to create fast-growing hedges using trellis fencing as support. Use a 4-6ft trellis so you can still see over into the next space, but create a feeling of separation at the same time.
Trellis teepees for sweet peas and beans
Don’t throw your old trellis away, make the most of it by using it in the vegetable garden. Old trellis might not look its best anymore, but by leaning it together and tying the top with cable ties you can create an instant tepee that’s perfect for growing beans, peas or even squashes up in summer.
Rather than growing squashes along the ground, you can train them up trellis, meaning you can grow twice as many pumpkins in a small bed.
Garden arbours can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, but did you know you can create the same effect for a fraction of the price with just a little elbow grease and some budget trellis?
All you need for this basic garden arbour is three pieces of 1.8mx1.2m trellis, six 2.4m timbers (4x4”), and plenty of screws.
- Start by making two frames.
- For each frame, lay two 2.4m timbers 1.8m apart
- Lay the first section of trellis 15cm from the top
- Drill pilot holes in the trellis, to avoid splitting the timber, then screw into the main timbers
- Attach the third 2.4m timber to the top of the others by drilling 45-degree pilot holes through the lower timbers, and drilling upwards into the top bar. Repeat this on the front and back.
- When the first frame is complete, repeat for an identical second frame.
- Dig two holes, 1ft wide, and 2ft deep.
- Drop the first section into the holes, then fill in with postcrete (keep the frame level at all times while it sets).
- Repeat this for the next section, making sure it’s 1.1m from the first so the top section of trellis fits, slightly overlapping.
- When both are set, attach the top section of the trellis.
Add height to fences with garden trellis
Trellis is an easy way to add height to garden fences, but is often done very badly. To get it right, use the right length and width of timber, and use trellis which matches the width of your fence panels. Don’t leave gaps at the top as it always looks messy.
Start by attaching vertical timbers to the existing fence posts so they sit at the right height to support the new trellis. Then screw the trellis in from the sides to avoid visible screws. That’s all there is to it.
Use garden trellis to hang pots
If you don’t want to spend on vertical planters, trellis can do the job for a fraction of the cost. Simply attach trellis to your wall, and use garden wire to secure any plant pots you like onto the trellis.
Use really good quality timber trellis for this so you don’t have to limit the weight of your pots. This way, you can use really cheap pots, filled with trailing plants, and within a year you won’t even see the wall, let alone the pots.
Garden Trellis Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put trellis on top of an 8ft fence?
In legal terms, there is no difference between trellis and fence, so check local restrictions as fences between properties should typically not exceed 8ft tall.
How do you support a free-standing trellis?
Trellis supports need the same considerations as fencing, so to support a free-standing trellis, bury fence posts at least 1ft into the ground and secure them with postcrete or solid wedges.
The method of securing the fence posts should be chosen depending on the weight of what will be on the trellis.
How far should trellis be from a wall?
Trellis should never be attached snugly to solid walls or fences as plants need space to climb through both sides. If your trellis doesn’t have a footing as standard, use roofing battens to hold the main trellis sections at least 1-2” away from the wall.
Can you hang trellis without drilling into brick?
For lightweight trellis you can use brick clips, sprung clips that attach firmly around the edges of bricks for no damage trellis hanging.
Wrapping Up Our Garden Trellis Guide
Whether you’re after trellis for privacy, plant supports, or both, there is a garden trellis for you. I love getting out in the garden and upcycling materials, so for me, it’s always got to be the upcycled branches pruned from our conifers that make the best DIY trellis, but there are so many ways to use shop-bought garden trellis to make a big difference in your garden.