How to Design and Build a Trellis

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A trellis can be used to support flowers and vegetables. It can be both practical and beautiful. You can construct simple ones or elaborate ones. Here are some ideas for basic designs you can use directly or build your own version.

  • A trellis can be constructed out of wood, wire, rebar, metal or almost anything else you can come up with. One note: if you use wood, it will last longer if you don't actually set the wood into the ground where it can rot. You will need fasteners to nail, lash, glue or otherwise connect the pieces. Get creative. If you decide to tie the pieces together, you might want to use something decorative like colored cord, chain or ornamental rope.

  • Basic structures can be changed or added to. Again, use your imagination. The basic fan shape might be curved with bent sticks.

  • This trellis has strings or rope for twiners to climb up. It is particularly useful in the vegetable garden for peas and climbing beans.

  • This one is the basic ladder design.

  • Or maybe try bending bamboo or willow by soaking long pieces in water until soft so you can come up with your own variation of this arch.

  • You can get fancy with metal by bending and curling it to form a sculptural trellis.

  • Or maybe make this simple grid work design cover the whole side of a structure for a 'growing wall.'

  • Another thought might be to use solid supports of wood or metal with strong cross pieces that can contain a material like chicken wire or hardware cloth for climbing tendrils to spread out on.

  • Of course, you can always shop for an interesting trellis at retail stores or on the internet if you don't want to build your own.

  • The shapes, forms, materials and sizes of your trellis work are limited only by your imagination. You can also hang decorations on your trellis or wrap Christmas lights around the supports to light up the trellis at night. Growing climbers and vines can be a lot of fun. But so can designing and building the trellis work that support them!

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  • Photo Credit Sketches by Jane Gates
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