A trellis is not only a beautiful addition to your landscape design it is a practical and functional home improvement project that can be completed in one short weekend. Whether you are building a garden trellis, a trellis to shelter a pathway or one to enhance a specific view, the following tips for building a trellis will help you move from construction to enjoyment without getting tangled up in vines.
The material you use to construct your trellis depends on the use and your personal preference. The first consideration should be how much weight should the trellis hold. Obviously, if you are building a garden trellis, consider the type of plants that you will have climbing on the trellis – – the weight of the plant will determine how heavily the trellis should be constructed. If you are building a trellis for purely aesthetics, you may not need to construct the trellis to bear the same amount of weight as a garden trellis. In either case, if longevity is a major concern use pressure -treated lumber when building a garden trellis. Cypress and redwood are good choices for trellises; however, cedar is generally the most popular for its beauty, resistance to rot and insect repellant qualities.
Permanently placed trellises should have posts at each end that extend at least two feet into the ground for support. Treat the portion of the posts that will be underground with a wood preservative to protect the wood. It is extremely important that the posts are level; therefore, before you begin to dig the holes for the posts remove all rocks, debris and vegetation. Before securing the posts permanently into the ground, use a level to make sure that both posts are the exact height and are level both horizontally and vertically (to check the horizontal position, use a long piece of wood placed on top of both posts and keep adjusting the posts until that piece of wood is perfectly level).
Using galvanized nails to attach the frame to the posts is advisable as is using galvanized steel corner brackets to add stability to heavy frames. It is not necessary to use the galvanized steel corner brackets on lighter frames; however, using them will keep the frame square and strong. You may also consider adding 2″ x 12″ x 12″ square post caps on the top of each post. The caps disburse the weight of the canopy more evenly and they also add a nice finishing touch to the project.
A few more tips for building a trellis:
**Leave at least four inches of clearance at the top of your trellis for ventilation (plants) if you are building it next to another structure.
**If using less expensive lumber, painting it with quality exterior paint will help it last longer.
**When measuring the posts for height, make sure to allow for the two feet that will be underground or you will have a very short trellis.
**Using a pre-fabricated lattice is much easier than weaving one-half inch lath yourself.