A trellis is an excellent way to provide texture and privacy in your outdoor areas. It is a framework that supports fruit trees or climbing plants and guides plants to grow vertically, not horizontally. The beautiful thing about trellises is that they're a great mix of function and form.
If you're in the market for a trellis, you need to consider size, style, and functionality.
What Style of Trellis Should I Get?
The type of trellis you need will depend on the size of your outdoor space, where you want to place it, and what kind of plant you want to grow on it. Arch, tripod, grid, fan, and ladder trellises are the most common styles.
Usually made of treated wood or metal, an arch trellis has two straight horizontal sides that meet in a curved arch at the top. Depending on how the plant climbs, the decorative top can either be a centerpiece, hovering above the plants, or disappear entirely in the greenery.
This type of trellis is freestanding and is useful to add shape or a focal point to your garden. Use it wherever you need some extra flair or gather two or more together for a delightful symmetrical arrangement.
Grid trellises usually need a wall to lean against or be anchored to a point in your garden, although some are freestanding entities. Typically made of metal or wood treated to withstand the elements, grid trellises can define your outdoor space, provide privacy in patios, or decorate an otherwise plain wall with a vertical garden.
The most significant benefit to these types of trellises is the versatility of their size. Grids can be narrow or wide, depending on the needs of your outdoor space.
The ribs of this trellis fan out, so they're closer together at the base and farther apart at the top. This type of trellis encourages both vertical and horizontal growth. A fan is an excellent choice for a corner where two walls meet, as it can train the vine or climbing plant to grow on both, softening the angles of the corner.
With two laddered sides meeting at the top, these trellises are apt in vegetable gardens. When plants grow vertically as well as horizontally, they produce a much larger yield. And on ladder trellises, they have both sides to climb up.
What Plants Can I Grow on My Trellis?
To decide which plants will do best on what kind of trellis, you need to narrow down its use.
If your trellis' primary goal is to be merely decorative, you won't need to train vegetables to increase your yield.
Arch and tripod trellises allow you to shape garden plants such as japonica or passionflower to build romantic outdoor spaces and craft topiaries from laurel and boxwood.
On the other hand, if you want your trellis to frame your outdoor space or screen a patio from view, you will need a plant that has a lot of leaves such as monstera or grapevines, or dense flowering plants such as climbing roses.
If you are placing the trellis outside a window, opt for a more fragrant plant, like jasmine, so the aroma drifts into the house. Fan trellises are excellent for flowering perennials, as the spread ribs at the top help show off blossoms to the best advantage.
Ladder trellises are excellent in vegetable gardens as the plants will climb up both sides, doubling your garden output. Tomatoes and nasturtium do exceptionally well on a ladder or A-frame trellis.
Which is the Best Material for a Trellis?
Once you have decided on the style and function of your trellis, the next thing to consider is the best material to choose that encourages plant growth and coordinates with the style of your outdoor décor.
Make sure wooden trellises are treated with weather-proof stain so it won't rot. Metal is an excellent material for trellises as it is sturdy and won't corrode easily, but keep in mind that some plants prefer wood to metal. You can also get trellises made of vinyl, which is more durable than metal and wood and weather resistant.
Copper tubing is another sturdy option and develops a lovely blue patina in the elements which can add a rustic style to your outdoor space.
When you're training your plants to grow up a trellis, never use metal clamps or plastic ties. Opt for natural fibers like twine as the artificial fasteners can inhibit the growth of the plant.
Use furring strips to attach your trellis to a wall to allow for more air circulation for your plants, easy maintenance, and quick removal.