A garden trellis can be both a decorative and practical addition to any flower bed or vegetable patch. They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and range from an easy DIY project through to a structure that requires some good wood-working skills.

Included in this article are instructions on how to create two different types of trellis – one simple and another that’s slightly more complex. Before embarking on your build, remember to select the trellis that best suits the plants you have in mind. Some are more flimsy then others and may not be able to hold the weight of your choice in flowers or vegetables.

A tepee trellis for climbing vegetables (an easy DIY project)

This is a fun, light-weight trellis that your children can help you assemble. It is a great choice for vegetables such as beans, peas and cucumbers. Items you require include:

  • 5 bamboo poles – each around 2m high
  • Twine or nylon
  • Vegetable seeds

Create a pentagon shape by standing the five poles on their ends, with four poles an even distance apart and one slightly larger space to serve as the tepee “door”. It helps to have a second pair of hands to hold them in place! Push each pole around 12cm into the ground and rest the tops against each other.

Tie the tops of the poles together with several rounds of your twine or nylon, and ensure the poles are securely held against each other.

Plant your seeds around the inside base of the poles, with two or three seeds per pole. Once the plants have grown around 10cm loosely tie them to the poles. After that they will grow around your tepee, creating a great space that the children, and pets, will love!

For a touch of variety this trellis can also be used for flowering plants, including climbing nasturtiums or black-eyed Susan.

A wooden trellis for flowers (a slightly more complex DIY project!)

Wooden trellises are ideal for many different flowers, including roses, vines or clematis. You will need five pieces of rot-resistant wood such as cedar, all of equal length, and 16 galvanised or stainless steel screws (as other screws will rot within a year). These items can be purchased from your local hardware store, when staff will be able to assist you with buying the right products.

It is important before you purchase your wood that you know the height of the trellis you intend to install. This will allow you to purchase the correct lengths rather than having to make a return trip to buy some more!

Once you have everything you need, you are ready to begin construction!

Use a saw to cut two pieces of wood into thirds, or halves depending on the width you desire for the trellis. These will create the cross-bars. Lay out your wood on the ground with the three long pieces an equal distant apart, with cross-bars lying across them to make square or rectangle spaces, depending on your choice of design.

Drill holes in the wood where you want the pieces to meet and secure each piece with one of the galvanised or stainless steel screws. It is easiest to secure the top and bottom cross-bars first and remember to leave approximately 12 inches (30.5cm) of the long wooden pieces free at the base as these will be inserted into the ground.

Alternatively, the trellis can be attached to the wall of your house, garden shed or fence. This can be done either with galvanised staples, which will need to be hammered in as they are very sturdy, or by using two wooden battens. If you select the batten option you will need to attach two of them securely to the wall or fence using screws. You can then nail your trellis to the battens, ensuring the nails are galvanised to prevent rust.

Feel like cheating just a little?

Hardware stores and garden centres often have ready-made trellis panels in a variety of colours, styles and sizes. These can be purchased and inserted easily into your garden for a ready-made trellis that looks great with minimal effort!

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