Trellises are a fun (and sometimes necessary) addition to any garden. They can help train and support plants, create privacy walls and “living fences”, or simply add style and flair to your space! Trellises are also great space-savers, and enable gardeners to “get vertical” – which can be especially useful when growing space is limited. However, some pre-made trellises can be a bit spendy – and the costs really add up if you need to buy several. The good news is, it is very easy and affordable to build your own trellis! Even better, you can customize and make a trellis that perfectly fits your needs.
Read along to learn our favorite materials and methods to build a simple and inexpensive trellis. I will walk you through two different but very similar trellis design options. First, let’s go over how to make the most easy, simple, and inexpensive DIY trellis ever. The second option is still very affordable, yet is increasingly sturdy and attractive with the inclusion of a wood frame – perhaps more ideal for more permanent placement. Finally, we’ll briefly talk about a few more trellis designs, including arched trellises.
What You’ll Find in this Article:
- Examples of ways to use a trellis in your garden
- What types of plants will grow up a trellis
- Difference between hog panel and concrete remesh wire
- Benefits of using remesh to build trellises
- How to to make a super simple and inexpensive trellis (Option 1)
- How to build a trellis with a wood frame (Option 2)
- Other trellis options & variations
- Extra trellis photos for ideas & inspiration
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products for your convenience, such as to items on Amazon. Homestead and Chill gains a small commission from purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you.
Ways to Use a Trellis
If you look around our property, you’ll see trellises everywhere! Some are temporary and mobile, giving short-lived annual plants like pole beans a place to climb. They can easily be moved in and out of garden beds as the seasons change, or as we practice crop rotation. I will show you how to make a simple trellis that is perfect for supporting beans, peas, tomatoes, and other veggies.
We designed other trellises as long-term living privacy walls, now covered with heavy, vigorous vines. Those are a bit more durable. For example, we chose to train all of our passion fruit vines on trellises along the perimeter of our yard, rather than allowing them to grow directly on our fences. Providing the vines with a designated trellis has several benefits: it protects our fence from damage, allows us to access both sides of the vines for pruning or harvesting fruit, and also enabled us to create privacy in our garden by building the trellis taller than the fence line.
Finally, you could build a trellis to serve multiple functions! Around our back patio garden, the wood-frame trellises create a separate intimate space, serves as a fence to keep the chickens out, and support plants all at once.
What Kind of Plants Grow on a Trellis?
Many annual vegetable plants rely on a support structure as they grow. The most common examples include cucumbers, pole beans, snow peas and snap peas – who all readily cling to, wind around, or otherwise climb up a trellis.
Many other vining and sprawling plants may also appreciate the support of a trellis, including tomatoes, squash plants, melons, and sweet potatoes. Some of these are not natural climbers (e.g. tomatoes) but can easily be trained up (or tied to) a trellis with your help. Larger, heavier crops such as winter squash or melons will need the support of slings or makeshift hammocks under the fruit to prevent the vines from breaking.
In addition to vegetables, there are a ton of beautiful flowering or edible vines that will naturally grow up a trellis too: jasmine, black eyed susan, honeysuckle, kiwi fruit, grapes, bougainvillea, certain varieties of nasturtium, clematis, maypops, passion flower and passion fruit, just to name a few! For more information about how to grow passion fruit and maypops (and to learn the difference between the two) check out this article.
What Type of Wire to Use for a Trellis
Before we get started “building” (if we can even call if that), let me tell you about the secret ingredient in our homemade trellis design: remesh. While there are many options of wire fencing that can be made into a trellis, we prefer to make our trellises using sheets of concrete support wire called remesh.
Remesh is an incredibly affordable option compared to other wire fencing materials – like cattle panel, also known as hog panel. Remesh should also be easy to find. Check the concrete section of your local hardware store, near the rebar and other concrete support “accessories”. Our Home Depot always has these sheets of remesh available. Yet like everything, remesh wire comes with its benefits – along with a few cons. Let’s review those now.
Pros & Cons of Remesh Wire
- Cost: Perhaps the biggest perk of using remesh is the cost. At only around $7 per sheet, the price simply can’t be beat!
- Size & Flexibility: Remesh comes in 7 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide sheets. For us, this size has been perfect for nearly all of our trellises, meaning no cutting or modifications are required. Yet if desired, remesh panels are easier to cut than cattle panel. In our town, you can only purchase cattle panel in significantly longer lengths. Thus, we find the size and flexibility of remesh sheets much more convenient to transport. While still sturdy, the sheets can be curled into a cylinder and put in the back of my Subaru. I think we’ve even stuck a couple in the back seat of Aaron’s Camry before! Because they’re physically more flexible, remesh is also more versatile to use for other projects! For example, they can be secured into a cylinder to create a very sturdy, large, inexpensive tomato cage.
- Wire Material: Like hog panel, remesh is made from steel. The primary differences are that remesh is a thinner gauge wire and not galvanized. This means that yes, remesh does get a rusty look to it. Personally, I see this as a pro instead of a con because I love the rustic, natural appearance over bright shiny metal. Because remesh has a finer gauge, it is lighter, and also easier to cut than hog panel. I still recommend using bolt cutters, but can be done with minimal effort.
- Potential Drawbacks: Because this is a construction product, the edges of remesh can be less “finished” than hog panel and may have sharp edges. The panels can vary in the store, so pick through to find the ones with smoother edges. When combined with rust, those sharp spots are a potential hazard – especially if you have kiddos in the garden. However, if you choose the wood-frame trellis option, it would be very difficult to injure yourself on it. This hasn’t been an issue for 95% of the trellises we have built. Once, I used a simple metal file to smooth out the sharp spots on an area we would be working around frequently.
That said, you could definitely opt to use hog panel fencing to build a trellis either of the ways described next. However, note that in addition to being more spendy – they’ll be a lot more heavy. Thus, you’ll want to use bigger, stronger, and longer stakes to support them.
HOW TO BUILD A TRELLIS: OPTION ONE
For this ultra-simple and inexpensive trellis design, all you need is:
- One panel of wire remesh concrete support
- Two tall stakes
- Either zip ties, or some galvanized wire.
- A pair of bolt cutters or heavy-duty metal snips, only if you want to modify the size of the remesh sheet
- Total cost: under $20, and even less if you already have stakes.
When selecting garden stakes to support your trellis, choose stakes that are tall enough to come up at least 2/3rd the finished height of the trellis (once in the ground). For example, if you intend to have a 7 foot tall trellis, do not purchase 4 foot tall stakes. Once they’re at least a foot into the ground for stability, they’ll only provide three feet of support above.
Also, it is best to select stakes that have some texture to them. Tiny notches, grooves, or similar create grip for the zip ties or wire tires to catch and hold to. Otherwise, everything may slide around. We usually use 6-foot green-coated metal garden stakes to build our trellises (with the exception of design option two), but you could use any kind – wood, large bamboo, or even rebar! We usually purchase our stakes individually at a local garden center, but at under $2 each, this 25-pack is a really good price if you need a lot!
- First, examine the location you would like to install the trellis. Determine the desired dimensions, and make adjustments to the remesh panel size if needed.
- Now, you can either put the stakes in the soil and then attach the remesh sheet to them in-place, or, build the trellis first and stick it in the ground already assembled. The latter option is the easiest, especially if you’re working solo. It is also easier to keep everything straight that way.
- To assemble the trellis, simply lay the remesh panel on the ground. Line up the stakes at the desired width. If possible, I suggest to keep the stakes on the outermost edges of the remesh sheet for maximum stability. Or, move them in a square or two and line them up with another interior vertical length of wire.
- Be sure to leave at least a foot or two of stake length extending beyond the bottom edge of the remesh, which will go into the ground. Try to keep them even.
- Next, attach the remesh panel to the stakes using zip ties or short pieces of galvanized wire. Pull everything tight, securing them in place.
- Finally, stick your new DIY trellis in place and plant something!
- This easy trellis design can also be used horizontally, to create a wide and shorter trellis. We have even “stacked” two sheets of remesh high up the stakes, creating an 8-foot tall, 7-foot wide trellis.
HOW TO BUILD A TRELLIS: OPTION TWO (WOOD FRAME)
The next DIY trellis design is very similar to option one, but has the remesh panel attached to a homemade wood frame rather than directly to the stakes.
These are the types of trellises we have used the most extensively around our property, to support passion fruit vines, create chicken fences, and living green walls. Some of them are installed stand-alone in the ground, while others are attached to raised garden beds. They’re durable, attractive, and still more cost-effective than purchasing most pre-made trellises of similar size.
For this more sturdy and finished-looking trellis design, you will need:
- Wood to build a trellis frame with. We like to use redwood 2x2s, but cedar is another excellent long-lasting choice. Both are naturally resistant to rot and termites. You should be able to find them at Home Depot or other large lumber centers. To fit a standard remesh panel, purchase four 8-foot long 2×2” boards: one for each vertical side, one to split for the top and bottom, and one for support pieces. (Tip: Look for the straightest boards and avoid bowed wood when you’re picking them out).
- One panel of remesh
- Two tall stakes – see notes about stakes below
- 1 to 1.5 inch long, “wide head” cabinet screws like these
- Four 3″ tightening hose clamps. We use these ones.
- 2.5” decking screws, or other small-gauge screw that won’t split the 2×2″ wood OR steel corner braces (flat L brackets), with no longer than 1.5” screws
- Saw (skill saw or similar recommended)
- Power drill (recommended)
- A pair of bolt cutters or heavy-duty metal snips, only if you want to modify the size of the remesh sheet
- Total Cost: approximately $40-60, depending on where you source your materials and not including tools
In regards to stake length, follow the same recommendations as option one. Yet because this style of trellis is a bit more heavy-duty, I suggest to use more heavy-duty stakes.
Personally, we like to use 6 foot fiberglass stakes to support our free-standing wood framed trellises. Fiberglass stakes are badass because unlike the hollow metal ones, they are impossible to bend. Furthermore, you can drive them into the ground with a rubber mallet if needed – again, without bending. In this DIY trellis design, it is okay if the stakes do not have texture as recommended in option one. The trellis is secured to the stakes with strong tightening hose clamps, so it doesn’t matter that fiberglass stakes are smooth.
Step 1) Take Measurements
First, examine the location you would like to install the trellis. Take measurements to determine the size of the wood frame you’d like to create. Do you need to adjust the size of the remesh panel? If not, measure the remesh panel to determine the lengths of wood you’ll need.
Note that most 2×2’s are realistically more like 1.5 by 1.5 inch, so take that into account in your measurements. Ideally, once the frame is built, the outer edges of the remesh panel will fall close to the center of each 2×2. Also consider the additional length you’ll gain in one direction or another, depending on how you line up the corners of the wood frame.
Keep in mind that you may want a foot or so of trellis “legs” to extend beyond the bottom edge of the trellis wire. They won’t be sunk into the ground very far though. Stakes will still be used for support in the ground.
Step 2) Build the Trellis Wood Frame
Using a saw, cut the wood 2x2s to the desired size. Most often, we don’t need to cut the two vertical sides at all. 8 feet works perfectly for a 7 foot remesh panel.
Lay out the wood pieces on a flat work surface. Before attaching anything, I recommend to also lay the remesh sheet on top of the unassembled frame to see if any adjustments need to be made. If all is good, connect the corners of the wood frame either using decking screws or L-brackets. L-brackets are the most sturdy. If your wood wants to split, add small pilot holes first.
To prevent the frame from flexing and to provide increased strength, add a support piece of wood across the frame itself.* You can choose from many options, depending on what style you like. For example, we have cut 2x2s at an angle to add pieces at each corner, the top corners only, or have run a piece horizontally across the middle. See the photos below for ideas.
*Note: You could add the support piece flush inside the frame, or simply attach it to the backside. If inside the frame, add the support piece now. If you are going to add it to the back of the frame, follow Step 3 first (attach the remesh), and then add the support piece on top – essentially sandwiching the remesh panel.
Step 3) Attach the Remesh Panel to Wood Frame
With the wood frame still on a flat work surface, lay the sheet of remesh wire on top of the backside (e.g. where your L-brackets are showing, if you used them). Once it is square along the frame, I suggest to screw down the corners first to prevent things from getting out of whack as you go.
We use short wide-head cabinet screws to attach the remesh to the wood frame. Feel free to get creative with other methods, but this has worked swimmingly for us! Choose a junction or corner in the wire, and drill the screw in at a slight angle to pinch and hold the wire between the screw head and wood. Don’t over-tighten and strip the holes. Add screws every foot or so along the outer perimeter and also across your support beams.
This is where using remesh is great. It is thin and light enough to hold securely using cabinet screws. Given its girth and weight, I don’t think this attachment method would work well with hog panel.
Step 4) Install the Trellis
Unlike option one (where we attached the stakes to the trellis first), we typically put the stakes in place and then attach the trellis after. Because these are intended to be more permanently installed, we want to drive the stakes in the ground as far as possible (one foot minimum) before securing anything in place. The trellis itself gets in the way of the work.
That said, make every effort to put the stakes in the ground as evenly and straight up-and-down as possible. Measure the distance between the outer vertical pieces of wood (center to center) and place your stakes there.
Once the support stakes are in the ground, place your new trellis in front of them. Work the wood legs down into the top few inches of soil. Once everything looks good and straight, attach the wood frame to the stakes. While you use wire, we like the added strength of using hose clamps – one at each corner (or close). Fully open the hose clamp, wrap it around the wood frame and stake, and then use a screwdriver or drill to tighten it completely.
Other Trellis Designs
Needless to say, there are SO many other trellis design options and ideas out there! We use variations of these two designs as well, such as installing them horizontally as I mentioned above. Or, rather than creating a full four-sided wood frame, sometimes we use wood 2x2s on the vertical sides only.
Furthermore, in addition than creating a free-standing trellis, we often attach them directly to raised garden beds or other structures. Finally, you could install our wood-frame trellis at an angle like a lean-to, supported with stakes or against a structure. You could even put two together to create a teepee! See the photos below for more ideas.
Last but not least, I’m sure many of you are interested in learning how to build an arched trellis. Unfortunately, remesh panels are too short to be made into an arch. We bought our arch trellises from a local garden supply company. The rusted look matched with our current design, and the widths were also perfect for our space.
However, it is not difficult to create your own arched trellis with hog or cattle panels. The curved hog panel must be securely anchored into the ground (such as with T-post stakes) or attached to a structure like a raised garden bed. You can use pipe straps or pipe clamps to secure them to wood. That is what we did with our pre-made arched trellis.
And that is how you build a trellis.
I hope this article gave you plenty of ideas and options for how to build a trellis! And not just any trellis – but a sturdy, attractive, and durable one. As always, please let me know if you have any questions – and feel free to leave feedback in the comments or share this article.
Finally, tag us on Instagram with #homesteadandchill to show off the awesome new trellises I know you’re about to make!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like:
- How to Design & Build a Raised Garden Bed
- How to Grow Passion Fruit & Maypops
- The Top 23 Plants for Pollinators: Attract Bees, Butterflies, & Hummingbirds
- How to Turn Your Yard or Garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat