Trellis is underutilised in most gardens, yet it has a myriad of uses. It can cover an ugly wall or screen an ugly garden building, and it can be used on one or more sides of a patio to provide privacy. You can use it as a framework to support plants but can also be a decorative feature in its own right.
Strategically placed trellis can make a garden appear more interesting. Counterintuitively it can also provide the illusion of greater space by interrupting the line of sight and making people curious so drawing them out into the garden to explore.
Most garden centres have a good range of functional and attractive trellis, readymade into units. If you can't find exactly what you are looking for there are companies who will precision cut a specific design and size for you. Obviously, you will pay more for the privilege, but you will get exactly what you want. In a small space where you might only need one piece it can be a worthwhile investment, because in a small garden any structure is more noticeable and becomes a visual statement.
If you plan to grow plants up your trellis then make sure the posts or wall that it is fixed to will support the weight of the trellis plus the full-grown plant.
It can be tempting to plant a variety of climbers, but a small space often benefits from bold planting using fewer varieties. Beware of using all deciduous plants because the structure will look bare in the winter.
Vines such as Vitis coignetiae, which has large heart-shaped leaves and beautiful autumn colour are great for a large area. V. vinifera 'Purpurea' has very attractive leaves which as the name suggests are purple. It produces bunches of dark, tightly clustered grapes.
Clematis are a good choice. C. montana is vigorous and might swamp a small trellis, but if you have the space they can be grown through other climbers and produce a fabulous summer display.
Ivies are good for winter colour. Don't think that all ivies are dark green. H. Helix 'Goldheart' has super attractive yellow leaves edged in bright green while H. helix 'Chester' has leaves with wide cream margins and is good for brightening up a gloomy area.
Passion flowers look very exotic and are a particularly good choice for a trellis.
Scented climbing roses are one of my favourite plants to grow up trellis which is screening a patio. I love ‘Compassion’, which has the most beautiful blooms in pink / apricot, and a strong, sweet fragrance. Prune every winter.
Remember to check trellis every year for broken or rotten supports and treat periodically with wood preservative to prolong its life and freshen its appearance.
Consider adding a trellis screen to your garden this summer.