Choosing Trellises for Climbing Plants: Top Tips for Every Gardener

Choosing Trellises for Climbing Plants: Top Tips for Every Gardener

May 22nd 2024

Climbing plants, with their rich foliage and beautiful blossoms, add aesthetics and functionality to any home garden. Growing upwards, these plants help transform fences, walls, and other vertical corridors into lively, green spaces. Plus, climbing plants are a fan-favorite among those with limited space, providing visual and practical benefits.

However, your climbing plants may only reach their full growth potential with a sturdy trellis. By guiding plants in a structured manner, the trellis helps support upward growth, keeping your flowers from drooping and falling flat. They also facilitate better airflow and light exposure, which helps your plants grow into healthy, blooming herbs.

But how do you choose the right trellises for your climbing plants to grow, supporting their health and well-being? Well, read on for the answer!

Understand the Needs of Climbing Plants

Before choosing trellises for climbing plants, homeowners should take the time to understand their plants' needs and growth habits. Some plants, like climbing hydrangea, may need more support from twist ties to latch them onto a vertical structure like a trellis. As a result, a wall-mounted trellis with flat surfaces works best for them.

Similarly, vines are plants with long, flexible stems that easily wind around trellises or other support, using their twinning stems or tendrils. These include morning glories, grapevines, and wisteria, to name a few. Such plants may benefit more from a sturdy trellis with small diameter supports. While their spiraling tendrils wrap well around thin wires, using a Vinyl stretch tie is always better to encourage maximum growth and hold them in place.

Choose the Right Material

When choosing trellises for climbing plants, the most essential factor is the material. Different materials, like wood, plastic, and metal, have distinct traits that impact the plant's health, the trellis' durability, and even the overall look of your garden.

1. Wooden Trellises

Wooden trellises feature a natural, rustic look that blends well with most gardens and lawns. Besides being a renewable "green product," wood can be painted or stained to match any vibe and garden design, whether you want a romantic English garden or a French-inspired vibe.

However, wooden trellises may be subject to wood decay caused by mildew, rot, and insect damage, particularly in humid regions. These supports may also be less durable than metal trellises unless you use redwood or cedar in construction.

2. Metal Trellises

Being weather-resistant, metal trellises are far more durable and can last around 10 years without damage. These structures offer sturdier vertical support, which makes them ideal for climbing plants like grapevines or wisteria, along with low maintenance requirements. The downside is their cost since a metal trellis can cost much more than wood or plastic options (especially if you opt for premium metals like iron or aluminum).

3. Plastic Trellises

The most affordable option is plastic trellises, ideal for gardeners and homeowners on a budget. They also withstand decay without regular maintenance checks for sealing or painting, making them suitable for rainy or humid regions. However, plastic trellises are less sturdy than metal or wood supports and unsuitable for supporting heavier climbing plants.

Shape Matters

The shape of your chosen trellis supports the specific growth patterns of your climbing plant and adds to a garden's overall design and functionality. Here are a few standard shape designs to consider when choosing trellises for climbing plants:

  1. Panel Trellises: These are flat matrix structures that are ideal for lawns that are set against fences or in narrow beds. The panel trellises provide double-side access for climbing vines, adding functionality.
  2. Obelisk Trellises: These pyramid-shaped obelisk trellises are great for middle placement between large rectangular gardens. They provide ample air circulation while letting plants grow and spiral around them, all while easing harvesting and tending tasks.
  3. Arch Trellises: If you want to create a lively entryway or pathway in your garden, an arch trellis is the best choice. Besides adding a dramatic touch and directing foot traffic, these supports help roses and grapevines drape beautifully and promote airflow.

Size and Scale

How do you choose trellises for climbing plants? Well, think about your plants first. How large will they get, and how far do they spread? What is the level of support required? These factors will help you determine the trellis needed to support your plants.

For example, light climbers like sweet peas may be suitable with minimal support and smaller trellises. In contrast, heavy climbers like wisteria may grow up to 10 feet in one season, needing more extensive support. Similarly, consider the expected spread of your climbing plant, and then choose a trellis that meets or exceeds this range to avoid hampering its growth.

Ease of Maintenance

Before choosing trellises for climbing plants, you need to consider their ease of maintenance, which directly affects the durability and longevity of your structure. The easier your trellis is to maintain, the longer it will last with minimal upkeep, leading to years of use. Also Secure your climbing plants with twist ties to ensure fast and easy installation.

So, when picking a support, look at its design. Simple designs are far easier to upkeep and maintain, contributing to their durability.

Similarly, consider whether the trellis has a protective coating or pre-treatment to resist weather and related factors. These treatments reduce the need for regular maintenance runs, making your structure last longer.

That said, here are a few tried-and-tested tips to make your trellis last longer:

  • Prune your plants regularly to maintain their health and well-being, all while protecting your structure from excessive weight and stress.
  • Clean dirt and debris from the structure to prevent buildup, which may cause early decay and moisture retention.
  • Inspect the structure regularly for signs of insect invasion or fungal growth.
  • Apply a finishing coat on your trellis to keep it safe from weather elements.


Choosing the best trellis for your climbing plants is not just about looks; it's about understanding the plant's needs and growth patterns. This knowledge will guide you in selecting a structure that enhances the beauty and functionality of your green space and contributes to the health of your plants.

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