How to Build a Trellis from Timber
A trellis is a great feature in any garden, whether you want to liven up a wall or fence or just encourage some more interesting plant growth.
Constructing your own trellis isn’t too difficult providing you have the right materials, so we’ve put together a guide with all you need to know about how to build a trellis for your property. Alternatively, you can request a high-quality, made-to-order trellis from A&S Paving!
Why is timber a good material for building a trellis?
A trellis doesn’t have to be made from timber, it can be made from mesh, metal or plastic, but we believe that wood is the superior choice. Timber has a fantastic natural appearance which will only enhance the plants growing around it, whereas other materials can look cheap or purely functional.
Each type of wood has its own strengths and weaknesses but timber tends to be very strong, meaning it will be able to support the weight of whatever plants you grow. It is exceptionally durable and you will be able to extend its lifespan by applying weather-proofing in the form of wood stain.
You can easily paint a wooden trellis if you want it to fit a certain colour scheme. Timber is also very easy to work with if you have the right tools and some basic DIY skills.
What materials are needed to build a trellis?
The size and quantity of materials you will need depends on the design of your trellis and where it will be placed, but the basic materials you will need for all designs are:
Slim timber boards such as roof battens
Wood screws suitable for outdoor use or gripper nails
Stainless steel screws and wall plugs (if fixing trellis to a non-wooden wall)
Outdoor/waterproof wood stain or paint (optional)
What tools are needed to build a trellis?
Sandpaper or electric sander
Saw (hand or electric)
How to build a trellis
Before you can start building your trellis, you need to design it! You don’t need an architectural degree for this – just decide where the trellis is going to be placed (for example, against a fence panel, a stone wall, or freestanding in a planter/flowerbed), what size it needs to be, and what shape you would like it to be. The following instructions are for a traditional rectangular trellis.
1. Once you have your measurements, start by cutting your timber boards or battens down to size to make the frame. This will depend on the size and style you have chosen, but for a traditional rectangular trellis with a grid-type design, you will need to cut the timber into two lengths – longer battens for the vertical beams and shorter ones for the horizontal beams. Make sure the vertical battens are longer than the length you want your trellis to be so that the bottom can be pushed into the ground.
2. Once you have cut your timber to size, prepare it by sanding it down with sandpaper or an electric sander, as well as removing any nails or screws if you are using scrap wood.
3. Next, line up your ‘vertical’ battens on a flat surface, with the outside battens at the desired width of the finished trellis, and the rest of the battens evenly spaced between them.
4. Next, lay your first shorter, ‘horizontal’ batten across the top of your vertical battens, using a set square and spirit level to ensure the battens are straight and perpendicular to each other. Drill small pilot holes through the horizontal batten in the centre of where it meets each vertical batten, drilling deep enough that the hole goes halfway into the batten below. If you are using nails instead of screws, you do not need pilot holes and can hammer the nails straight into the battens into the same position.
5. Screw wood screws into the pilot holes to attach the horizontal battens to the vertical battens.
6. Lay the rest of the horizontal battens across the vertical battens at regular intervals and repeat steps 4 and 5 to fix them down until you reach the desired length of your trellis (you should still have some length left to push into the soil).
7. Cover the wood with your choice of waterproofing, such as a waterproof wood stain, paint, or outdoor varnish, following the instructions on the product for application and number of coats.
8. Now that your trellis frame is complete, put it in place and use a rubber mallet to drive it into the soil until it sits at your desired height.
9. If you are attaching your trellis to a fence panel or a stone/brick wall, then you will need to screw it in place. Drill some evenly spaced pilot holes on the vertical battens and then screw in your stainless-steel screws through the trellis and into the fence panel. If you are attaching the trellis to a wall, you will need to drill holes in it for wall plugs first. This is best done by making a pencil mark through the pilot holes and then removing the trellis to drill the holes and insert the wall plugs. Replace the trellis and fix the screws through the trellis and into the wall plugs.
10. Finally, use your garden string to attach your climbers or plants to your trellis and let them grow!
Hopefully this guide to building a trellis from timber has been helpful, but remember that these steps may need to be amended if you are using a different design or different materials!
If this all seems a little overwhelming or you don’t have the time to make a trellis from scratch, you can buy a made-to-order trellis from A&S Paving! Our trellises are made on-site, meaning we can meet your exact requirements and specifications. You are welcome to get in touch to find out more.