Creating a garden wall with a trellis is one of the best ways to increase your vertical growing space. They are most commonly made of long, wooden pieces in a criss-cross pattern but can be found in various materials and designs to suit your needs.
Cost-effective and lightweight, lattices can be moved to different areas or secured if you want them to be permanent additions. They allow climbing plants and vines to grow upward, giving you the option to utilize areas in different ways while adding plant diversity to your garden.
Many garden centers will sell standard four-by-eight pieces of wooden trellis or “lattice” that you can use in the garden. Lattice sections will need to be attached to something, whereas other pre-made wooden trellises usually have their own built-in “legs” that can be pushed deep into the ground to hold them up. These may also come in smaller sizes, be attached to planter boxes, or have a variation of space between the slats.
A lattice trellis offers more structure and privacy as they are built with less space between the woven pieces of wood. Clematis and jasmine, or vining annuals like nasturtiums, Dipladenia, or morning glory, will fill a four-by-eight section by the time you want some flowery coverage when lounging in the summertime yard.
Similar to the wooden trellis, some people opt for a metal trellis for its appearance, as it’s durable and decorative. It’s really a matter of personal aesthetic choice, as it does not have any superior function compared to wooden trellises. Metal is sometimes harder to attach than wood, especially if you are screwing your trellis into an existing fence or deck made of wood.
It’s not impossible, it just takes different kinds of screws and drill bits made specifically for attaching metal. Look for galvanized or other kinds of metal that are meant for outdoor applications. Otherwise, it will rust after only a season or two.
Trellis netting comes in different lengths and spacing between the lines to offer various options for your plants. Usually made of plastic, or sometimes string, netting will work best when attached to a frame of some kind to give it structure. It doesn’t have to be complicated: a few wooden stakes hammered into the ground with the netting wrapped or stapled tightly will do the trick.
This low-fuss trellis system is useful for gardens with many climbing vegetables or bushy flowers, as you can take it down easily once the annual growing season is done. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing trellis, but since it’s thin and light, you can hide it easily in between plants to create an invisible trellis structure.
Just like a bucket with holes drilled in the bottom can be a planter, anything that allows a plant to climb can be a trellis. Don’t be afraid to get creative with materials you may have lying around. Individual bamboo poles can be bound together in a criss-cross pattern to provide a growing surface for tomatoes, cucumbers, clematis, or any vining plant.
Galvanized steel rebar or mesh used for concrete applications can also be an interesting trellis. Old, wooden ladders can add a cool, shabby chic look while helping plants along, and of course, wooden skids or pallets (every DIY-er’s favorite up-cycled item) can be disassembled or used as-is to make an interesting and functional trellis wall. Note: a trellis can also become an arbor or pergola.
Plants that Love a Trellis
Certain plants will flourish around a trellis, and there are many options to choose from. Annual flowers like cathedral bells, Spanish flag, nasturtium, Dipladenia, Mandevilla, sweet pea, petunia, climbing snapdragon, and vining black-eyed Susan will take over a trellis in no time, giving you a vertical garden wall to admire throughout the warmer months. Of course, you'll have to plant these each year.
Perennial plants like roses, clematis, morning glory and moonflower (perennial in zones 10 and higher), Dutchman’s pipe, bougainvillea, passionflower, honeysuckle, and climbing hydrangea are all excellent choices if you want a section of permanently trellised plants that keep coming back.
Bougainvilleas are excellent shrubs that adore a good, hearty trellis to display their gorgeous blooms across, but they have thorns and aren’t winter hardy. Wisteria is also beautiful, but look for native varieties, as non-natives can take over a garden quickly.
There are a ton of fruits and vegetables that will appreciate a solid trellis system as it lifts them off the ground providing more sunshine and airflow: tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, squash, hops, grapevines, strawberries, and raspberries are just a few popular ones. This is a great way to extend your garden and overall harvest each year. Plus, it makes it harder for some animals to nibble at the crop if it’s higher up.
Choosing what kind of trellis for your garden wall depends on a few factors. Consider whether you want a permanent trellis structure or something you can take down after the growing season is done. Do you need something functional, or is this a showpiece (or both)? And, of course, the dimensions of your space and what plants you want to grow will dictate the kind of trellis you need, as well.
While there aren’t any one-size-fits-all trellises for every situation, the wonderful thing is pretty much anything that acts as a vertical structure to plants can be a trellis. If budget is a concern, you can get out your tools and easily make your own, but pre-made ones will still need a DIY designer’s touch. Either way, big or small, a trellis will help you create a garden wall to admire.