A Trellis

It is possible to double your growing space by simply using a basic trellis to grow climbing veggies and fruits. A trellis can be a simple fence-like structure or an elaborate architectural structure. It depends on what you want to grow and how much you want spend. Your structure can be freestanding, fixed to posts that are secured into the ground, or secured to an existing wall or fence. Again, it depends on what is already existing in your garden that you may want to use and where you want to place the structure. If it is going to be attached to a wall, the trellis needs to be held away from the structure by a few inches; this will allow ventilation for the plant, prevent the trellis from rotting, and give the gardener easier access to harvest and maintain the plant. The spacing can be done by placing bricks on the ground or using a piece of wood that is attached to the existing structure to position the trellis a few inches away from the wall or fence.

Recycle old pantyhose, twist ties, string, ribbon, or strips of cloth to tie your plants to a trellis or stake. Ties will need to be checked occasionally so they do not get too tight and strangle the plant.

A trellis placed against the wall of a building or fence could also be attached using hinges. This method would allow the trellis to be either raised or lowered allowing easier access to clean and paint the wall or fence, as well making it easier to reach the fruits to harvest and maintain the plant.

Building a Simple Wooden Trellis

A common trellis is an open latticework usually made of wood or iron. Most building supply centers sell various lengths of lattice; however you can easily make a simple trellis out of wood, small trees, or bamboo.

To make this simple 6-foot-high by 36-inch-wide trellis it is recommended to use cedar or redwood for a longer-lasting support; however less expensive fir or pine can also be used and will usually last at least five years.

Supply list: (Note: 1-inch by 2-inch measurements are usually only ¾ by 1¾ inches.)

Four (1-inch by 2-inch) wood strips cut to 6-foot lengths

Eight (1-inch by 2-inch) wood strips cut to 36-inch lengths

Two (2-inch by 4-inch) wooden boards cut to 32½ inch lengths (3½ inches less than the width of the trellis)

Forty (6d) galvanized nails (Extra are always needed just in case you lose or bend some.)


Drill (It is recommended to drill as small hole in the wood strips before pounding in the nail so as not to split the wood.)

Follow these steps to make the trellis:

  • Step 1: Nail one of the 6-foot length wood strips from the top edge of the wood strip to the edge of the 4-inch side of the 2-inch by 4-inch wooden board. Repeat on the other end with a second strip.

  • Step 2: Nail the other 2-inch by 4-inch wooden board to the bottom back of the strips from step 1.

  • Step 3: Nail the next 2-inch by 4-inch wooden board 2-inches from the first 2-inch by 4-inch wooden board. Repeat on the other end.

  • Step 4: Nail one of the shorter wood strips perpendicular to the long strips 2 inches below the top of the longer strip.

  • Step 5: Nail the next wood strip 4-inches below the first one.

  • Step 6: Nail the next wood strip 12-inches below the second one.

  • Step 7: Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all the shorter wood strips are nailed to the frame.

You can now attach the 2-inch by 4-inch wood board directly to an existing wall or fence. Another option is to attach a second set of 2-inch by 4-inch wood boards to the existing structure and attach your trellis to it using eye hooks or hinges; this will make it easier to remove or raise the trellis.

Make a creative garden fence using 18-inch diameter steel stakes, found in the masonry section of any local hardware store, as your fence posts. Attach branches, dowels, copper pipe, or lath horizontally with wire to create a garden barrier. This structure can be easily moved around your garden.

This trellis will work well for beans, peas, and cucumbers. A stronger trellis is needed to support large, heavy vegetable plants such as winter squash, or fruits such as grapes or kiwi. So check out other options. Either way, make sure the trellis is firmly secured either into the ground or to an existing structure.

Other Trellis Ideas

There are various materials you can use to create a trellis on an existing wall, fence, or between two sturdy posts secured into the ground.

▼   DIY-style vertical planter
  • Strong twine. This is mainly used if you will be growing peas, beans, or flowers like sweet peas.

  • Galvanized wire. This is used for larger, heavier plants such as squash, cucumbers, or some espaliered fruits.

  • Green or white plastic-coated netting, which can be purchased in most garden centers and comes with different-sized holes. Choose the 4- or 6-inch holes for growing larger vegetables such as cucumbers for ease of accessing the fruit, or the 1-inch squares for trellising peas or beans.

  • Nylon cord strung across between two eyehooks or sturdy nails secured to an existing fence or structure.

Trellises can be used to enhance a garden in addition to growing food. Have fun creating your own personal hideaway in your tiny space by adding a chair in the shade of a trellis, or use a trellis to divide your garden into garden rooms. The rooms will make a small area more intriguing and attractive. Another great idea is to attach a large mirror to a fence or trellis, giving the illusion of a much larger space than what really exists.

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