7 Trellis Ideas Every Green Thumb Will Appreciate

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Are you in need of some trellis ideas to spruce up your backyard and get it ready for sunnier days? A trellis—which is different from a pergola and an arbor—is a wooden or metal structure used to support climbing plants or trees. Most trellises feature an open framework that consists of vertical or horizontal slats, allowing a plant to wrap around it. By working a trellis into your outdoor space, your gardening efforts will not only be supported, but your vines and leaves will also look neater.

Incorporating a trellis into your yard is an easy and generally inexpensive way to get your landscape renovation literally off the ground. There are even certain types of trellises that can provide a wall of privacy in your backyard. Here are the best ideas, including some fun DIY projects, to keep all of your greenery headed for the sky.

1. Wooden fan trellis

Photo by Highwood

A drab wall can actually be the perfect backdrop for a fan trellis, which is structured to open upward from the bottom to the top. Whether you’re going to do it yourself or buy a premade structure, opt for pressure-treated wood, says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of “Today’s Homeowner.”

Since the trellis often supports vines that wrap around it, you want wood that will resist rot. And just be sure to plant lightweight vines such as jasmine or honeysuckle, as this trellis can’t support heavier vines such as wisteria.

2. Curved double trellis and arched trellis

Amp up your patio’s charm factor by adding flora on either side of a door or window. Framing an opening this way can put the focus on architectural details and soften the surrounding walls with curtains of vines. A yellow thunbergia and purple climbing hyacinth are the ideal plants for a small-framed trellis.

An extra incentive for adding a delicate, cast-iron trellis to your yard? You’ll have something pretty to look at in the winter when the plants are cut back.

3. Trellis ideas for climbing veggies

If you’ve ever planted cucumbers, tomatoes, or zucchini, you know those growing veggies need something sturdy to climb on. Enter this triangular wooden trellis made of bamboo and garden twine (this can also be a simple DIY idea). Not only will you get your cucumbers off the ground, but the lush greenery will also create a tomato trellis that’s like a living teepee during the summer growing season.

If you decide to build your own trellis, make sure to sink the bamboo poles at least 8 inches into the ground and secure the top of the structure with rope that won’t snap under a load.

4. Privacy fence ideas

This cute screen pulls double duty for plants and privacy in a garden space or patio.This cute screen pulls double duty for plants and privacy in a garden space or patio.

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Searching for a trellis idea that holds plants and also protects your yard from looky-loos or curious critters? A privacy fence is for you.

Design expert Chelsea Lipford Wolf has experience building this type of trellis for a friend who didn’t like her “boring and uninspiring patio area,” which opened to her neighbor’s yard.

You can either plant a climbing ivy at the base of the trellis or add small potted plants, as Wolf did.

“We added some beautiful flowers to the pots. You can plant different flowers to change it up or to suit the season,” she says.

5. Metal trellis with a pop of color

Look for a place to embrace color when you’re gardening. One way to accomplish this is to add a flourishing garden trellis in a deep shade like purple or terra cotta? The garden trellis above gets the greenery off the ground without taking up too much space. And the sturdy wires are the perfect support for heavier climbers like trumpet vines. Other colorful plants that love to climb include morning glories and clematis.

6. Crisscross wire trellis design

Here’s a fun word: espalier.

This trellis idea is from an ancient horticultural practice that controls the growth of woody fruit plants—think apples, figs, or lemons—by pruning and tying branches to a frame. If your backyard is nice and sunny, consider planting some fruit trees along a wall and practicing the art of espaliering. Your wall acts as the trellis support, and the wire attached to the wall in a crisscross acts as a de facto lattice. Then you simply shape and train your branches by anchoring them to the crisscrossed wire.

Espaliering requires you to keep your pruning shears at the ready, and if it’s done right, you’ll have a beautiful work of garden art.

7. Floating wall trellises

If you’re short on space, you can still embrace good trellis design, either from the store or one you create yourself, by adding several smaller metal versions to a wall or fence. Paint them and add three different types of climbers, like the ones above, and your thumb will officially be green.

Just remember to give these trellises a chance to shine if they are low to the ground—don’t block them with taller plants. Go for low ground cover such as flowering thyme or blue star creeper.

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