Beautiful Trellis Ideas for Every Style and Budget • Gardenary (2024)

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My Favorite Trellis Ideas for Every Garden

If you’ve read my book, Kitchen Garden Revival, you know that I consider trellises to be one of the four essential components of a kitchen garden. One look at any of the stunning trellises featured in the book will tell you why. You'll see how lattice side panels provide great support for vining and climbing plants; you'll see how height can add extra interest to a garden space; you'll see how great design means year-round beauty.

The gardens featured in my book were designed for Rooted Garden clients, and their trellises tend to be more on the splurge side than the save side. They are incredible hardscaping pieces that will hold up for decades, but I know that not everyone can invest hundreds of dollars in their garden right now.

Let's look at four levels of trellises to support every style and every budget.

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Here's Why You Need a Trellis for Climbing Plants

Trellises maximize the amount of growing space you have in your garden because you encourage climbing plants to grow up instead of growing out. This also increases air circulation and exposure to sunlight, which means healthier and happier plants all around.

Plants that love support include peas and fava beans in the cool season; vining tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans in the warm season; and Armenian cucumbers, malabar spinach, and luffa gourd in the hot season.

While I can’t recommend metal obelisks, panels, and arched trellises enough, there are other ways to provide support for your kitchen garden plants.

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Beginner's Level: Wood Trellises

A super simple way to add support to your garden would be to use wood trellising. When I first started gardening, I collected bamboo stakes from a friend’s backyard for free. I formed the stakes into panels and connected them with netting in my garden beds. The little tendrils of my cucumber and bean plants loved clinging to the netting.

Pros of Wood Trellises

This is your most basic and inexpensive option. You can easily DIY your own wood trellis and remove it from the garden space when not in use.

Cons of Wood Trellises

The downside of wood trellising is that it often only lasts one season or so. Thin pieces of wood can rot due to the moisture in the garden soil.

Wood trellises also need a lot of reinforcing to prevent them from falling over. Most wood trellises are wide at the bottom and narrow at the top to make the structure as sturdy as possible, but this in itself presents two problems: One, your plants will become overcrowded once they reach the top, and two, the inside of the base is wasted garden space because plants will only be grown on the outside of the structure.

To me, this is a great starter option for those new to growing on trellises. I recommend saving up for something more durable for future growing seasons.

How to Make a Wood Trellis

You can do something as simple as I did—basically taking sticks the same length, forming a teepee with them, and tying them together with twine. Add smaller sticks for cross support, making diamond patterns on the side. You can use nails to secure the joints. If you have a lot of sticks on hand and don't mind rebuilding your structures each year, then DIY wood trellises could be a great option for you.

Alternatively, you could form your sticks or thin pieces of lumber from the hardware store into a ladder shape that narrows at the top by using two long pieces for legs and shorter pieces going across as rungs. Duplicate this ladder shape for the other side, and then connect these two ladders with more rungs.

If you're shopping for wood, make sure to do your homework and consult with an expert at the store before choosing the type of wood for your trellis project. Treated woods often contain harmful chemicals you don't want in your garden.

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Buy a Wood Trellis

Wood trellises are readily available online and in hardware stores. You can find wooden lattice trellises for anywhere from about $15 to $50 and wooden obelisk trellises for $50 to $110, depending on the size. There's a very standard 61"H wood obelisk trellis made from acacia available on Amazon for $70 here.

Not all wood trellises are made the same. Keep in mind that the thinner the wood, the more frequently you'll need to replace these trellises. (Your climate can also impact the lifetime of these trellises.) Avoid wood trellises with parts held together by small staples or tacks, which can loosen easily and cause your structure to fall apart long before the wood rots.

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Intermediate Level: Farm Fencing

When I graduated from bamboo poles, I went and bought an entire roll of metal fencing from a home supply store. This material would have been fine to use between vertical supports, but it was too flimsy to serve as an arch trellis the way I wanted. What I should have bought was cattle fencing or farm paneling from a tractor supply store. Made to be much stronger, cattle fencing can stand up on its own but can also be bent into an arch between beds.

Pros of Farm Fencing

This is a practical option that typically gives you plenty of support in your garden.

Cons of Farm Fencing

In my opinion, this option lacks the vertical interest of a metal trellis.Fencing materials only look nice once they're covered in lush greenery, so you won't have that looks-great-even-when-nothing's-growing factor.

Arches made from these fencing materials can sometimes be overwhelmed by plant mass. The cattle panel trellises pictured below flopped mid-season under the weight of all that growth.Once these vines died back, we replaced the panels with stronger metal arch trellises.

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How to Make a Farm Fence Trellis

Grab some panels of cattle fencing, farm paneling, or remesh (concrete support wire that comes in inexpensive sheets) at your local tractor supply store or hardware store.

Attach your panels to a wooden fence using cat's claw fasteners or steel screw hooks. Or you can construct a simple wooden frame to hold the wire. You can also use T-posts to hold paneling upright and connect them with T-post clips.

Thanks to the flexibility of materials like cattle panels, you can easily stretch a sheet between raised beds to form an arch.

A 42" x 7' remesh sheet costs less than $20. Steel screw hooks cost a couple bucks each. A pack of 25 T-post clips costs about $5, and each 6' T-panel costs about $7. A 50'L cattle panel costs anywhere from $50 to $100. So depending on which materials you use, you could easily DIY your own trellises for under $150.

Advanced Level: DIY Metal Trellis Kit

The discovery of ready-made kits for obelisks, panels, and arches changed how I designed gardens for good.

Pros of Trellis Kits

These kits arrive with all of the pieces ready for assembly. If you bury the legs of your trellis about one foot down in your raised bed, the soil will hold it in place. The kit also includes ground spikes to safely anchor your trellis if you’re placing it in your landscaping.

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Cons of Trellis Kits

This is a more expensive option than wood or fencing materials.

Most kits cost between $150 and $400, so this is still an accessible option when you consider how many years this will bring structure and aesthetic appeal to your outdoor space.

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Shop Gardenary's Favorite Panel Trellis

The symmetrical pattern on the unit brings a modern flair to your kitchen garden.

Dimensions: 23"W x 78"H

Will a Metal Trellis Burn Plants?

I was concerned about metal trellises growing too hot under the sun and burning my plants the first summer I gardened in Houston. To my surprise, it's never been an issue.

As long as you're growing seasonally appropriate plants (such as malabar spinach or luffa gourds during the hottest of weather), your plants should be able to stand the heat radiating from your black metal trellises.

Rust is also not an issue. Many of the trellis kits you'll find are powder-coated, which means they're weather- and rust-resistant.

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Shop Gardenary Trellis Kits

How to Install a Trellis

I recently put together a new kind of trellis for my garden all by myself. Besides the fact that I’ve never been great at following directions while putting things together, this assembly was made difficult by the fact that this trellis is huge. Huge. We’re talking way taller than me.

Building the Gothic Large Arch Trellis was just a matter of fitting the sections together correctly on the ground before standing it up, but I definitely see why the directions recommend having two people during assembly and installation. Something to keep in mind if you purchase any of our trellis kits!

Other tips for installing a trellis include:

  • Install your trellis before adding soil to your raised bed, if possible. Otherwise, dig out soil from your bed, install the trellis, and backfill.
  • Ensure the base of the trellis is buried at least one foot deep.
  • Use metal stakes to help secure the trellis in place if your trellis kit provides them.

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Shop Our HUGE Arch Trellis!

The Gothic Large Arch Trellis would be a beautiful hardscaping piece alongside an English Tudor or French-style home or any space where you want to add a bit of European flair.

Pro Level: Custom-Designed Trellis

The arch trellises in my garden were crafted in one piece and designed for my garden space. Each trellis is one welded piece of metal—no screws or anything. After moving from Houston to Chicago to Nashville and installing these trellises in three new gardens, I can attest to their durability.

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Pros of Custom Trellises

These trellises bring vertical interest and beauty, in addition to, you know, supporting my plants season after season. So many of you have asked about these trellises that I'm working on getting them turned into a kit we can sell here in the Gardenary shop.

If your budget allows for a custom piece, you can create something unique and long-lasting that fits your exact space perfectly.

Cons of Custom Trellises

Working with a metal smith to create a custom piece is a splurge and probably above most budgets. (The silver lining is you'd be supporting someone's craft.)

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Hope You Feel Inspired by These Trellis Ideas!

If your budget allows for a DIY kit or a custom-designed trellis, you could use your structure as an inviting entryway into your garden space. While there are tons of edibles plants you can grow up your trellis, there are also flowers and ornamental vines for every season that will create a dramatic focal point.

If you’re ready to level up your garden game, check out all of the fantastic trellises in our Gardenary shop. I can’t wait to see what you grow on your own trellises this year!

Shop Gardenary Trellis Kits

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Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click on the link and purchase the item. All opinions remain my own.

Beautiful Trellis Ideas for Every Style and Budget • Gardenary (2024)
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