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Large Trellises - Design Tips

In the past, trellises were mainly used for cultivating grapes or fruit. For bigger and better harvests the trellises were often very large, some even covering the entire façade. And after all, one large trellis is more impressive than several small ones. How then do you place the cross beams and laths? Which designs are possible? With the examples and information here, you can even plan a French trellis- the classic 'treillage'! The sections under classic construction also provide useful information on wooden support trellises.

Old plant grid for grapevine near Dresden / Saxony
Old plant grid for grapevine near Dresden / Saxony

Simple Trellises

A trellis has to adapt to the windows of a façade. The simplest solution is to use long crossbeams (uninterrupted horizontal beams) across the entire width of the facade and only shorten the laths where necessary. The disadvantage is that the crossbeams end up coming very close to the windows. With high windows, the crossbeams are farther apart and the cross sections of the laths have to be larger/thicker, making them less graceful looking. Long crossbeams and laths can be divined into several parts for easier assembly, as described under the section on details.

Moritzburg / Saxony: large trellis with 4 crossbeams; here, the lath ends do not protrude.
Wooden trellis

Photo Gallery

Here are more examples of simple trellises with continuous crossbeams. Please, click on the photos!

Remains of an old trellis, Seidewitz / Saxony
Insignificant windows that served as ventilation were often covered with latticework/laths, Sörnewitz / Saxony
Also here, ventilation windows were simply covered with trellis laths, Sörnewitz / Saxony
Farm house with an old trellis, Seelingstädt near Trebsen / Saxony
Old trellis wall with wooden framework, Kohren-Salis / Saxony
Trellis with roses, coach house of the Villa Esche in Chemnitz / Saxony
Wooden trellis for grapevine with continuous crossbeams
A garden-city movement style trellis, Weimar / Thuringia
Trellis made of wood for grapes, Dresden / Saxony
The concept of "continuous crossbeams" reaches its limits here. A split axis (as mentioned in one of the next text-boxes) by the upper windows would have had a better effect here.
These crossbeams are quite close together in this particularly harmonious system-- almost doubled-- like those in the next photo gallery.
Trellis with 4 crossbeams

"Doubling" the Crossbeams

This is an interesting design element: Instead of just a single crossbeam, two are set close together, one above the other. In this way, short laths above windows can be secured, giving the entire trellis more stability; it also emphasises your facade's horizontal lines.

Trellis made of wood with 3 x 2 crossbeams
Climbing plant support made of wood

Photo Gallery

Here you can see trellises with "doubled" crossbeams

The starting point for a doubling of crossbeams is often a situation like this: The short laths directly above the windows do not have enough support and tilt to the side.
A second crossbeam was added above to this old trellis, providing the short laths the necessary support.
A second crossbeam was added here as well. Radebeul / Saxony
Trellis with double crossbeams-- the trellis is much sturdier this way; the laths cannot warp or deform, yet the trellis still has a graceful aesthetic
Trellis for roses
Trellis with 6 crossbeams
This trellis also has a second crossbeam above and below the windows; its harmony is calming.
The upper double crossbeam on this trellis also has a design effect: The width of the horizontal element is matched to the thickness of the horizontal timber above it.
With these trellis elements too, the doubling (in the middle) is mainly for design/artistic reasons.

Additional Crossbeams Between Windows (Interrupted Horizontal Axes)

For functional or design reasons, horizontal beams can be used not only above and below but also between windows. For an optimal visual effect, the discontinous lath segments should be placed at exactly the same height. Even above or below the windows, it will not always be possible to have a continous horizontal beam. Although the trellis may not have border or frame when you have breaks in the horizontal line, it will look lighter and less severe. 


Chemnitz / Saxony: trellis in a garden-city settlement designed in the style from that period-- slightly protruding laths.
Trellis in a garden-city settlement

Photo Gallery

View this gallery for examples of trellises with interrupted horizontal axes.

With such trellises, the question of adding another horizontal axis (with breaks between windows) arises.
This is what one solution would look like: here, trellis for grapevines.
Another similar trellis for grapes
Trellis for pears: the thick trunk and branches obscure the view of the structure here. The load of such a tree on an espalier like this is quite substantial, much more than for clematis and co.!
Wall trellis for apple (espalier fruit)
A wooden trellis on traditional German formwork, Wehlen / Saxony
Grapevine trellis on an old workshop, Zadel / Saxony
Trellis for grapes, ST.-Urban-Church, Meißen / Saxony
This old trellis' lowest crossbeam axis in the window area was raised and 'split up' (between the windows) so that it wouldn't reach down into the foundation area.
Wood trellis
Trellis for grapevines in winter
New trellis with interrupted crossbeam axes at the height of the window

Offset Crossbeams

Sometimes discontinuous ('interrupted') crossbeams are arranged offset in height, especially if windows or other wall openings are irregular and have different dimensions.

Gaussig / Saxony
Trellis in Gaussig / Saxony

Photo Gallery

Here you can view examples of trellises with offset (staggered) crossbeams.

Trellis with offset crossbeam
Trellis on a façade with additional (offset) crossbeam underneath the window
This trellis' upper crossbeam axis was split and staggered; Dürrweitzschen / Saxony
Trellis around a bench - here the lower beam was interrupted and staggered.
The lower crossbeam of this old trellis was raised above the lower right window.
A trellis on a manor: the elements already interrupted by the door were set above the windows.
This trellis' upper crossbeam axis was also offset
The offset crossbeams on this trellis were added simply for artistic reasons.
Even a less "orderly" design can be charming. Here, the spaces between windows aren't uniform, nor are the patterns the same. The left bit of the trellis was just added on to the the rest.

Additional Short Crossbeams

For various reasons it can be useful to add short horizontal beams, especially underneath windows. With several short crossbeams, they should be placed at the same height, so that they make an imaginary horizontal axis. Sometimes these crossbreams do not need wall anchorage; they can simply be mounted (screwed) to the back of the vertical laths.

Diesbar-Seußlitz / Saxony
planning tips for extra trellis cross bars

Photo Gallery

Here you can see more trellises with additional short crossbeams, often combined with other design elements described above.

This small extra bar was simply screwed to the vertical laths.
Short cross bars were added beneath the windows of this old trellis. Priestewitz / Saxony
Because of the windows, the middle cross bar was interrupted and instead, two bars were added above and beneath the windows. Jena / Thuringia
Climbing support structure for roses
An old trellis in Thuringia with additional cross bars over and underneath the upper window.
Many additional cross bars, without wall fixation, were added to this trellis in many places.
Grapevine trellis. The upper vertical laths are additionally fixated to short cross bars above each window. These cross bars, however, are not anchored in the wall.
Trellis with additional short cross bars
Here, the additional cross bars below the windows were added to stabilise the short vertical laths. The short laths above the windows were not additionally stabilised.
The somewhat unorthodox alternative concept to the photo from before: The short, extra cross bars were attached below the main horizontal cross bar instead of above. Meinholdsches Turmhaus, Radebeul / Saxony
Analogous to the photo from before: Here the additional bars for stabilising the short vertical laths were added underneath the windows.

Slopes and Curves

Sometimes trellises will need to be adapted to round or slanted lines-- for example, to roof edges, staircases, arches, gates. In these cases, the crossbeams of the trellis will be set at an angle or the lath lengths will vary.

Dohna / Saxony
Rose trellis on a stair stringer

Photo Gallery

Examples of sloped, slanted, and rounded trellises

Trellis along a roof line
Grapevine trellis
Rose trellis
Historical plant trellis on a gable
Trellis at a house entrance
Trellis grid with sloping lines
This wall trellis does not follow the lines of the roof, nor does it compliment it.
Trellis above rounded windows. A FassadenGrün project, approx. 2005
Trellis above an arch

Separation into Individual Trellises

Planning a complex trellis is a real challenge! Such a project can be divided into individual trellises: for example, 2-beam-trellises which have some distance from each other but are placed in such a way as to give the impression of a single trellis with continuous axes. This technique is somewhat difficult to implement and not always fully convincing, as you can see in the following photos.

Several trellises for grapevines
Several trellises for grapevines

Photo Gallery

Several individual trellises composing a 'whole.'

Rose trellis on a former signalman's house. Triebischtal / Saxony
Divided trellises on a wall for grapes - definitely a successful arrangement! Waldheim / Saxony
To avoid fragmenting a trellis, you can use this little trick: Offset/staggered vertical laths in the centre. Göschenhaus in Grimma-Höhnstedt / Saxony
The design on the left side isn't entirely compelling.
Sadly, these trellises were not adjusted to match the proportions/dimensions of the windows.
On the right facade, the trellises were split into two levels.