Introduction To Garden Wall Trellis
A trellis can be a nice addition to any garden; it supplies support to vine plants and can provide decoration and visual interest to your outdoor space. We had planted blackberry vines some time ago next to a cinderblock wall in our back yard, so my husband decided to build a trellis to support these vines. Here’s how he did it.
The first step in building a trellis is deciding the size and shape. Because our trellis was going to be mounted onto a wall on sloping ground, we decided to build a trellis that matched the stepped shape of the wall for aesthetic reasons. It would have been easier to build the trellis in separate panels – smaller panels = easier handling during mounting – but my husband knew that he would have help mounting the trellis so he built it as one large structure. You can vary the size, shape and number of panels in your trellis depending on its mounting location.
He decided to build our trellis frame out of redwood because it is a beautiful, durable wood that can be used in outdoor structures without finishing. Cedar would have been another good choice, but redwood is plentiful where we live (west coast of the US) so it is considerably cheaper than cedar. The corners of the frame were secured with galvanized L and T brackets. He used galvanized wire fencing material for the matrix of the trellis, which he attached to the frame with galvanized heavy-duty staples; He was careful to use many staples to attach the wire fencing material so that the trellis will be able to support many vines.
Because he was attaching the trellis to a cinderblock wall (which serves as a fence between our yard and our neighbor’s), he elected to use special fasteners made just for this purpose – essentially, large specially-threaded screws. To drill into the wall, he used an impact drill with a special masonry hammer bit (a bit designed to be used with the impact drill). If you are mounting your trellis to some other surface like a wooden fence, you would simply substitute the appropriate type of fastener; if you are attaching your trellis to the side of a house, you must take care to use sealant around the base of your screws so that your house’s weather-proofing is not compromised. The fasteners he used have a special coating on them to prevent rusting, whatever fasteners you use should have this; look for decking screws.
To put some space between the trellis and the wall, he made standoffs cut from a length of PVC pipe. He wanted our trellis to be an inch from the wall, so that is the size of my standoffs; if you want your trellis to be a different distance away from its mounting surface, you need only adjust the size of your standoffs and mounting screws. He cut the PVC pipe using an electric miter saw with a conventional blade; if you cut your PVC pipe this way, you should turn off the saw when your downward cut is done (so that the power is off on the saw when the sawblade goes up) so that you avoid cracking the brittle PVC pipe.
To mount the trellis, he pre-drilled holes around the perimeter then clamped the trellis to the wall with large woodworking clamps. Using the predrilled holes as guides, he drilled his holes into the wall with the impact drill, then sandwiched the PVC standoffs between the wall and the trellis and screwed the fasteners into the holes he had drilled. After that was done, he added a few more holes/standoffs/fasteners in the center of the trellis, for a total of 18 mounting points. That may seem like a lot, but our trellis is quite large so you will have to adjust the number of mounting points depending on the size and shape of your trellis.
After that, all that remains is to fasten your vines to the trellis and prune as appropriate. Your trellis should give you years of functional beauty.
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