Guide for the Construction of a Wall Trellis

A wooden trellis coins a facade even more than a wire rope trellis. Analogously, the planning effort should be higher, meaning the search for a creative persuading solution and its effective realisation. In the following example from the southern edge of Leipzig (Großdeuben), a procedure of such a facade greening with vine trellis in classical structure will be shown from planning to steady outcome.

Wooden wall trellis, grapevine

Idea and Inventory

Perhaps it was a memory of a holiday, or a greened house in the neighbourhood, which triggered the idea of a facade greening. But what can be done 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 the espalier.

Planning a trellis

General Orientation

In a local case, the southern facade had already been planted with two vines, only with a piling and without a wall espalier at first – in order to test the choice of plants. Could the wish for windows entwined by vine become reality? After two good harvest years with those vines, a classical wall espalier made of robinia wood with a “Sweden red” coat was favored. The planning started …

Façade greening with grapevines

Draft Variants

As a do-it-yourselfer, you can plan an espalier 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 too high will often times stay untended and run wild.

Wall trellis in planning

Quantity Surveying and Calculation

For the choice of your “favourite one“, the costs are a determining factor: Which structure needs less anchors than others, how can waste be avoided? Despite only the superficial measurement, the “masses” can be determined relatively precisely. In our case, it was already clear that there were only Robinia laths available of 2.50 m length, and therefore they needed to be split accordingly. 

Quantity survey

Choice of the Favourites

In the summer, a facade greening honors 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 the window openings differs several centimeters from the construction drawing! All planned, sketched lath measures, rungs, window spacings and so forth need to be checked again.

Measurements of a façade

Detailed Drawing

Detailed drawing should best be done by computer. The draft will be refined and adjusted to the dimensional facts, 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 is a drawing true to scale, which displays the intended effect of the wall espalier.

Detail drawing of a trellis

Dimensions

For the realisation of the greening, several construction drawings are necessary. That concerns 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 on the photo will be placed by measure 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