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Steps for Constructing a Wooden Wall Trellis

Did you find an example you liked among our photos of wooden trellises? Would you like to start building your own wooden trellis to espalier a climbing plant on the facade of your house? A wooden trellis influences a facade much more than a wire rope trellis. The planning effort should then be correspondingly greater-- i.e. the search for the optimal design concept and its effective implementation. In the following example, you can follow the steps for constructing a wooden trellis (traditional design) will be shown-- from the planning to the maintenance of your climbing plant.

Wooden wall trellis, grapevine
Wooden wall trellis, grapevine

Inspiration and Evaluation

Perhaps a memory from a vacation or a greened house in your neighbourhood has triggered your inspiration for a facade greening. But which trellis form works on which facade? The first step is to survey your unique situation. Location (amount of sunshine and the weather conditions of your region), choice of plants, possible monument protection requirements, and the structural particularities and masonry of your wall will all need to be considered at this early phase. Note: Repainting the facade or insulating the wall is much easier before the trellis is erected than afterwards, so take that into account should such work be needed.

Planning a trellis

Example

Here, the southern facade was planted with two vines, with only a supporting post and without a wall trellis at first –- in order to test the chosen plants. Could the desire for windows surrounded by vine become a reality? After two years of good yields from those vines, the owner began planning a classic wall trellis made of robinia wood with a coat of Swedish red paint.

Façade greening with grapevines

Design (Draft) Variations

The making of a trellis for climbing plants is do-able for all amateur handymen or handywomen! Print out a photo of your facade or get the architectural drawings for it, lay transparent paper over it, and sketch the variations and shapes you are interested in. What suits the facade best? Pay attention to the height: A greening that is too high will often remain untended and run wild or shaggy.

Planning the wall trellis

Quantity Surveying (Estimating Material Costs)

When choosing your favourite design, cost can often be a determining factor: Which arrangment needs fewer anchors/mounts than others? How can the waste of wood be avoided? Even roughly estimating, these measurements can be determined relatively accurately. In our case, it was already clear that for Robinia wood ("acacia"), only 2.5 m long laths were available, and therefore they needed to be divided accordingly.

Quantity survey (estimating material costs)

Choosing your Design

In summer, a facade greening lives up to its name, and walls are enveloped in green leaves. But most plants shed their leaves in autumn, and the appearance of the trellis and the plant will look compltely different in winter. If plants other than evergreen have been chosen, the trellis' aesthetic will be revealed in the transitional seasons and winter. It will shape the face of the facade for 5 to 6 months! Choose your favourite design with this in mind! 

 

Design for façade greening

Measurements and Detailed Planning

In this step, determine the exact measurements (plus/minus 1 cm deviation okay) of your wall, the trellis, and the wall elements (windows, doors..). Sometimes the position of window openings deviates several centimeters from the construction drawings! Try to be as precise as possible. All dimensions of the sketched laths, transoms, window and door spacings, and so forth should be checked at least twice.

Measurements of a façade

Detailed Drawing

For the implementation of the greening, detailed construction drawings are necessary (best done with a computer program). The design is now refined and adapted to the specific dimensions of the wall; details such as gaps and overlapping laths are determined. (In our example here, the horizontal battens under the windows have been legthened during this step.) The result is a true-to-scale drawing of your future trellis, and you can get an accurate feel for the overall effect the trellis will have on your facade.

Detail drawing of a trellis

Dimensions

The most important measurements are the dimensions of the trellis laths (horizontal and vertical) which must be cut to length and possibly pre-drilled. Each drilling point is marked on the façade by measuring or by coordinates. This is much simpler for smaller trellises. *Very small trellises can be installed more easily of course!

Drilling plan

Assembly and Mounting

Now, the manual work begins! The horizontal and vertical laths (square slats of robinia wood 27/27 mm) were prepared according to the measured dimensions and then painted in Swedish/Falun red. They were mounted on the facade which was repainted beforehand. The horizontal laths were mounted first (with trellis anchor AS 06020), then the vertical laths thereupon (with self tapping screws HS 04550). Finally, the vine was trellised on the trellis with binding material.

Assembling and installing a trellis

Approval of the Wall Trellis

The wall trellis is finished! You can officially declare your satisfaction. Approval, of course, does not stop there-- already the neighbours and passersby have noticed and likely praised the wall greening! Together with the vigorous vines, the espalier now creates the best conditions for future abundant growth!

Façade greening with grapevines

In-front-of or behind the trellis?

Graceful plants like clematis, mandevilla, and other perennials can attach themselves to a the trellis as they like; they can grow carefree on the supporting espalier and their stems can be allowed to tangle freely. Vigorous climbers like roses and vines should always be attached and trained exclusively at the front of the trellis.  The trunk, branching vines, and cordons of these plants should always be led in front of the laths or metal bars and bound there with binding material. Young shoots can be tucked behind the laths; they will be trimmed away later (in winter).

Maintenance and Maintenance Contracts

Some landscapers stay connected with their facade greening projects for two to three more years. For the vine, these first years are crucial to form the vine properly by systematically pruning in summer and winter, which is done in a precise method (of pruning, forming, and tying) that requires a certain amount of know-how.

Trellis maintenance

Harvest…

If you are eager to learn and you have something of a “green thumb“ you can also learn grapevine care yourself with the help of our website. Every gardening project of this type tends to reveal new and unexpected challenges over time. Modifications on a trellis system will frequently be necessary: On this house (in photo), the “Dornfelder” stock needed to be replaced by a fungus-resistant variety (Muscat bleu) in 2006, which now produces countless kilograms of grapes every year…

Dornfelder grapes