There’s something magical about vines; watching them grow and wrap themselves around various posts, trees, and other supports is truly like a storybook. The fact that many vines bear fruit or hang heavy with blooms just makes them even more appealing. Often the best way to enjoy the beauty of vines is to get them up on a trellis.
Photo courtesy of Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, MD, member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Choosing the Right Trellis
Vines can be light and delicate or they can be heavy and even powerful in the way they grow. It’s important to select a trellis that will complement and support whatever plant you have chosen. For delicate plants like clematis or mandevilla or sweet potato vines, almost any trellis will work. You can opt for a slender wood trellis or a lightweight metal one. In many cases, you can even grow these vines on light wire attached to a wall or structure with screwed-in stainless steel or galvanized eyes. You have many options.
More aggressive vines, like wisteria or bougainvillea, are a different story. Wisteria can push and pull wood joints apart as it grows. Bougainvillea can grow so thick and heavy it can make its frame sag. Heavy, solid posts and cross members connected with beefy hardware are your best bests for vines such as these. Alternately, metal frames can provide sturdy support for vigorous vines.
It’s important to realize that it will be very difficult to paint or apply a wood preservative to a trellis that has vines growing on it without cutting the vines to the ground or removing them and re-attaching them when finished painting. So, if possible chose a type of material or wood that will not require painting or wood preservative.
Consider What’s Around
Have you seen photos of grapevines growing over an outdoor dining area, perhaps even going overhead on a pergola? While reaching up and pulling down sun-ripened grapes as you relax in the shade may seem idyllic, be aware you’ll be sharing the bounty with other guests. For instance, local birds will love your grape arbor, and will leave evidence of such all over your patio.
Similarly, if selecting vines that bloom prolifically, consider whether you’ll be using the space while they’re in bloom. Close-up views of hummingbirds and butterflies will leave your guests spellbound, but flowers will also bring bees. Bees are valuable members of the ecosystem, but if you’re unlikely to want to sit right next to them, consider setting your trellis to the side of your main space.
Unsure where to start? Your local landscape professional can advise you on the best vines and the best trellis options for your area and your backyard.
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