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How to attach a trellis to a fence

Want to introduce a pastoral look into your garden design? Well, you can’t go wrong with a trellis. Ideal for injecting greenery into the mix and dressing up plain-looking garden features, they’re exactly what you need if you’re looking to revamp a small outdoor space. Here’s how to attach a trellis to a fence (or wall) to start you on your way to reclaiming your garden.

First up, some key considerations

We can’t go attaching a trellis to your garden structure if you don’t have the right trellis for the job. This means considering a few key factors that will ensure it doesn’t fall down as soon as you put it up there!

  • Think about the purpose of your trellis – is it there to decorate an existing fence or wall, highlight the vegetation or serve as a new canvas for climbing plants?
  • Consider the type of flora and fauna you want to grow – different plants will require a different-sized trellis to grow properly and reach their potential.
  • Ensure the structure will be able to take the weight of your chosen vegetation – this will keep both your trellis and plants happy and healthy.

how ro attach a trellis to a garden fence

Choosing your trellis

With the previous points taken into consideration, you should be ready to pick out the trellis that meets your design scheme and gardening plans. Here are a few quickfire suggestions for both functional and decorative means.

Flat trellises

Typically used to zone outdoor space and to create a sense of intimacy, screening parts of the garden with their delightful patterns and lush greenery, flat trellises can be both free-standing or anchored to a wall or posts. Even better, they are relatively easy to relocate within the garden, ideal if you want to explore different effects.

Arch-topped trellises

Arched trellises are perfect for putting together a delicate, cottage-style look. Their smooth curves can perfectly frame the top of a fence or add a depth of character to a garden wall. Match them with a well-placed garden arch and you will hammer home this gorgeous rustic aesthetic.

Trellis tops vs standard square trellis panels

In addition to choosing between a flat or arched edge, you will need to choose between the type and build of the trellis – this will affect how you attach the trellis to the fence or wall.

Smaller trellis tops make a stylish addition to existing fencing or walls as extra screening or shape, whilst standalone square panels are more functional in that they provide a handy frame for climbing plants. Either way you swing, wooden trellises can add height to traditional garden features without compromising on natural light.

Top tip: For trellis projects that need extra strength, you may also want to consider opting for heavy-duty panels that can withstand high winds and ensure your fence is windproof and generally up to scratch.

Materials for the job

How to attach a trellis to a fence or wall in 6 simple steps

Now the part we’ve all been waiting for: how to attach a trellis to your fence or garden wall. This will take you about 30 minutes for a small project and a bit longer if you are attaching trellises to a long stretch of your garden. Let’s dive in.

preparing a trellis to attach to a fence or wall

1.      Check your trellis plans are suitable

First things first, ensure that you’ve followed our prior advice and have selected the right type and style of trellis for your project.

Measure the dimensions of your fence to work out how many trellis panels you will require, taking extra care with the height if you are fixing trellis tops to an existing fence or wall – you will need planning permission to exceed the maximum 2m height limit, so it’s best to stay under this limit.

For budding and veteran gardeners, make sure that you’ve left enough room for your climbing plants to take root and grow up your gorgeous new framework and clear the area of weeds, knotty tree roots or any other debris that may pose a problem.

2.      Ensure your trellis is treated

When you have your trellis in front of you make sure it has been treated. Our trellis panels are all timber tanalised for a longer life expectancy, but other retailers may not treat the wood, meaning that they may be vulnerable to rot and decay over time.

If this is the case, grab yourself some fence preserver to waterproof and protect the wood. This is also a brilliant opportunity to colour your trellis as it will be difficult to paint over all its nooks and crannies once attached to the fence or wall.

3.      Get your battens ready

The most integral part of the trellis structure is your battens. Although you can secure the trellis panels directly to your fence, with battens securely in place the trellis will stand firm against strong winds and be able to take more weight.

Note that some trellises come with a premade back panel, offering a gap between the slats and the structure. In this instance, you won’t need to attach battens.

Securing battens to a fence

If your fence doesn’t already have battens installed, you will need to attach them yourself. The size of the battens will depend on the size of the trellis you select. As a general rule, however, they will be somewhere between 30mm and 60mm as well as the length of your trellis.

When attaching a trellis to fence panels, make a mark on the fence where both ends of the trellis will sit and use wood screws to fix the trellis in place at these points. If your trellis is particularly hefty you may also want to add a further one at the central point.

Much is the same if you are attaching a trellis top at the head of your existing fence. There are just a few extra considerations when building the fence that you need to take to achieve a smart job. For the most part, this means leaving a section of fence post above the fence available for you to attach the trellis top to. Again, secure the battens at the point your trellis will sit, keeping it nice and straight.

Top tip: If you’re working with a fence with concrete fence posts it’s essential that you follow this step. We don’t recommend that you screw directly into these fence posts as this may cause them to split and crack; instead extend their height by attaching wooden battens to the height of the trellis, fixing the battens to the fence panels rather than the posts.

How to attach a trellis to a fence

Securing them to a wall

It may be tempting to mount your trellis directly against the wall, but providing room for your climbers to twine with battens will result in a healthier wall and healthier plants.

As with the fence method, ensure the battens match the length of the trellis. Raising the trellis above the wall surface by 5cm will allow for optimal air circulation. Mark these points on your wall and then get to attaching the battens to the wall.

Using the hammer action setting of your drill and a masonry bit, drill holes at your marked points. Once this is achieved, you can go back with a larger drill bit to create the correct hole for your wall plugs and knock these in. Then it’s a matter of drilling corresponding holes in the battens and using them to screw them in place.

4.      Add your brackets

This step is the same for both walls and fences. Using the correct-sized wood screws fix a U bracket on the inside of each fence post or batten extension at the halfway mark from where your trellis panel will sit.

5.      Slot the trellis in place

Neatly slot the panel in place, attaching it to the battens with your wood screws through the brackets you’ve attached. It should be fixed into the wall or fence firmly and above the ground – consistent contact between the base of your trellis and the moist ground may encourage rot.

6.      Stand back and admire

And finally… Step back and admire your handiwork. If you’ve fixed your battens in place properly you should have a sturdy, wobble-free structure that can withstand the elements and the weight of climbing plants – and, best of all, it should provide a sophisticated, super-spruce look.

How to attach a trellis to a wall without drilling

Alternative methods: fixing a trellis to a fence without drilling

Now, if you don’t have power tools to hand and you find yourself asking how to attach a trellis to a fence or wall without drilling or using wood screws, there is another way. And this involves swapping out your screws and brackets with one of the following alternatives. All the other steps are the same!

For walls

  • Brick/wall clips
  • Hooks
  • Nails
  • A strong outdoor adhesive + hooks

For fencing

  • Plastic zip ties
  • Outdoor adhesive

While this isn’t the optimal method for fastening your trellis in place, it does the job well enough for sheltered spots with weaker winds. Be warned that these methods will not be able to take as much weight as attaching your trellis using a drill and woodscrews.

Nevertheless, you can remain confident that as long as your battens are strongly embedded in the ground, your panels are carefully attached and the weight is suitable for the structure, your new trellis won’t be going anywhere.

Still on the fence?

There we have it: how to attach a trellis to a fence or wall. We hope this breEZI tutorial has shown you that this is an uncomplicated job that any competent DIYer can achieve with a little care and the right planning. All that’s left now is for you to sit back and watch your foliage cloak your garden with a newfound vertical flair.

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