Building a Trellis: Estimating Time, Space and Cost

Building a trellis can be as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. More complex ones are large and can run the length of a long fence. Simple ones can be only a foot or so wide and a couple of feet high. A trellis is basically a two-dimensional grid, most often made out of wood but sometimes PVC, that acts as a plant support. Here are some things to consider to help you figure out how much work is involved in building the type of trellis you would like.

The Size and Style of the Trellis

When building a trellis, the only way to begin estimating the time, space and cost required to create on is to determine the type of trellis you want. The larger the size and the more complex the style, the more money and time it's going to take to build. Begin by deciding precisely how you'll use the unit. Some suggestions are to grow a grape vine, for cucumbers, or for climbing roses or other climbing plants. Find the desired location and measure that location to figure out the dimensions that you'll be able to fit there. Decide if you want to build a basic trellis or something more complicated such as an arch trellis or a planter one.

The Type of Material

Typically do-it-yourselfers build trellises out of wood. Although not as common, PVC is also an option. PVC tends to be more expensive initially and requires special tools to cut and assemble. If chooses PVC, take into consideration the cost of renting or buying special equipment. The cheapest wood to use is pine. Other types may cost more, but they're also more weather resistant and will typically last longer. Red cedar is a good choice for a longer lasting wood. Figure out the cost by determining the amount of wood required based on the design template you're using. Take these dimensions to your local home hardware or lumber store to get prices and determine total cost. Don't forget to include the costs of all necessary fasteners.

The Lattice

All trellises have a lattice. Pre-made lattices tend to cost less, but may not fit a custom size. If you choose to make a trellis from scratch, be prepared to spend more time and money building it. You'll need the correct tools which may require tool rentals. Extra wood is also a good idea in case of errors.

The Plan

Building a trellis requires working from a template or plan. This becomes more important the more complicated the design is. A plan also helps with estimating the space, time and cost of building a trellis. Plans cost money if you choose to purchase books with complete design plans and supply lists. Occasionally you can find free trellis plans online, especially if you're looking to build a basic one. If you're looking to create a designer-looking trellis, then you're initial investment in the project should be a good plan book.


Determine the types of plants you would like to put in the trellis. Go to a garden center to find out the cost of these plants and how many you'd need for the type of trellis you're building. Include this in the total estimate of how much it would cost to create a trellis.