How to Use a Garden Trellis

Tomatoes on garden trellis

If you’re looking to spruce up your garden, encourage the growth of new plants and add to your garden décor, using a garden trellis might be the answer. Trellises come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and in different materials like wood, metal or plastic. They can be as simple as a small garden arbor or can be turned into beautiful pagodas or pergolas. Functionally, trellises give vining plants a structure that they can thrive and grow without being choked out at the ground level. But they also provide great decoration and variety for your garden, and can even help some of your food-producing plants grow better. The following are some common questions and answers about trellises and what they can do for your garden.

Vine Tendril

Why do some plants need a trellis?

Vining or climbing plants have tendrils, which are special stems that are used to wrap around a structure and provide support. These plants can get stifled if they don’t have a suitable structure to climb, and once they do have a structure they climb in order to have better access to the sun.


What are the best plants to grow on a trellis?

This can be a tricky question, because there are thousands of vining plants to choose from. If you have a friend that’s an expert gardener or has a trellis themselves, it may be a good idea to pick their brain and see what plants they prefer. There are a few generally accepted species that grow well and look great on trellises, including bright and colorful bougainvillea, morning glory, trumpet vine and henryi clematis.


Can I grow vegetables on a trellis?

There are several varieties that are good for trellis growing. Beans and peas take to climbing naturally as they easily wrap around the trellis’ support structure. Cucumbers, small squash and melons, as well as some kinds of tomatoes. Tomatoes, squash and melons may require additional support as they can get heavy and break off of the vine.


What kind of trellis should I buy?

This will depend on the space you have to work with and what your overall plans are for your garden. If you have some woodworking ability or are really looking to make a statement with your garden, you could build an arbor at the entry to your garden. An arbor typically has lattice or some kind of trellis-like structure on its sides and are often built as an arch, creating a tunnel of vining plants.

You can also see a number of standalone trellises in dozens of sizes and styles. These can be combined to make a partition full of vining plants or on their own as specific support for vegetables. If you already have a fence or wall in place near your garden, adding wooden lattice is a great option as well.