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Guide for the Construction of a Wall Trellis

A wooden trellis shapes a facade even more than a wire rope trellis. The planning effort should then be correspondingly greater... i.e the search for the most convincing design solution and its effective implementation. In the following example taken from an area in the southern part of Leipzig (Großdeuben), a procedure of such a facade greening with vine trellis in classical structure will be shown-- from the planning to the longterm yield.

Wooden wall trellis, grapevine

Inspiration and Evaluation

Perhaps it was a memory of a vacation, or a greened house in the neighbourhood which triggered your inspiration for a facade greening. But what 'works' on which facade? Location, choice of plants, historical monument protection, statics and wall structure need to be examined in this early phase. It is also useful to repaint the house, or insulate the wall, before erecting a trellis.

Planning a trellis

Example

In a local case, the southern facade had already been planted with two vines, with only piling and without a wall espalier at first –- in order to test the plant selection. Could the desire for vine-entwined windows become a reality? After two good harvest years with those vines, a classic wall espalier made of robinia wood with a “Sweden red” coat of paint was favoured. The planning began …

Façade greening with grapevines

Plan/Draft Variations

As a do-it-yourselfer, you can plan an espalier/trellis by yourself as well! Look for photos or construction drawings of an object, put transparent paper on it, sketch several variants and discuss them: What suits the facade best? Pay attention to the height: A greening that is too high will often remain untended and run wild.

Wall trellis in planning

Quantity Surveying and Calculation

When choosing your favourite model/plan, cost can often be the determining factor: Which structure needs fewer anchors than others? How can waste/unused residual lengths of wood (i.e blends) be avoided? Despite only superficial measurements, these 'masses' can be determined relatively accurately. In our case, it was already clear that for Robinia wood ("acacia"), only 2.50 m long laths were available, and therefore they needed to be divided accordingly. 

Quantity survey

Choosing the Favourites

In summer, a facade greening lives up to its name, and walls are enveloped in green leaves. If plants other than evergreen have been chosen, the espalier’s aesthetic will be revealed in the transitional seasons, and also in the winter. It will shape the face of the facade for 5 to 6 months! After all consideration, from several variants, one “favourite” is left over and determines any further planning.

Design for façade greening

Measurement and Detailed Planning

For further planning, your wall needs to be “measured” in the tolerance range of about plus/minus 1 cm. Sometimes, the position of window openings deviates several centimeters from the architectural/construction drawing! All dimensions of the planned/sketched laths/battens, rungs, window spacings, and so forth need to be checked again.

Measurements of a façade

Detailed Drawing

Detailed drawing is best done with a computer program. The draft will be refined and adjusted to the dimensional conditions; details such as gaps and overlaps will be determined. Let’s say, in this process, an extension of the crossbars underneath the windows was necessary. The result will be a drawing true to scale, which shows how the wall espalier will look/work.

Detail drawing of a trellis

Dimensions

For the implementation of the greening, several construction drawings are necessary. This applies to all bars of the espalier (crossbars and longitudinal bars), which will be cut and, if necessary, already pre-drilled. Also, every drill hole on the wall appearing in the photo will be placed by measurement/dimension or coordinates. Very small espaliers can be installed more easily, of course!

Drilling plan

Fabrication and Mounting

Now, the work on the wall begins! The cross- and longitudinal bars (robinia wood square 27/27 mm) were prefabricated according to the drawing and coated with Falun red. Now, they are installed on the repainted wall, first of all the bars, then the laths thereupon. Finally, the vines are bound on.

Assembling and installing a trellis

Acceptance of the Wall Espalier

The wall espalier is finished! The client needs to formally declare his satisfaction. The acceptance though, also takes place in the surroundings: Already the neighbours and passersby have noticed and praised the wall greening. Along with the strong vines, the espalier brings off the best preconditions for future record harvests!

Façade greening with grapevines

Before or Behind the trellis

Delicate plants such as Clematis, Mandevilla and other continuous bloomers can attach themselves to a the trellis as they like. Vigorous climbing plants such as roses and grapevines are attached and trained exclusively to the front of, or before the trellis. Trunk, branching vines, and cordons are fastened onto (before) the laths or metal bars. This is done with binding material. Jung shoots can be tucked behind the laths and are later trimmed away.

Maintenance and Maintenance Contracts

By some facade greenings, the GaLaBau-company stays adjunct to the project for 2 to 3 further years. Especially in the case of vines, it is necessary to obtain an optimal plant formation in this period of time, for instance, by summer- or winter trimming. Following certain rules, the shoots on the trellis are cut back, formed and bound.

Trellis maintenance

Harvest…

Those who are eager to learn and blessed with a “green thumb“ can also learn grapevine care with the help of our website - by themselves. Consistently, changes are possible and necessary: (picture) on this house, for instance, the displayed “Dornfelder” stock needed to be replaced by a fungus-resistant sort (Muskat bleu) in 2006, which now carries countless kilograms of grapes every year…

Dornfelder - Grapes