Easy Trellis Starter Tip

Wall trellises are relatively easy to assemble and mount. In a recent project, I attempted to build a wall wire trellis on faux stone panel. It turned out very well and although it posed a few challenges, was actually easier than I thought. The position of the trellis though was higher off the ground because of the way the post was built.

The faux stone panel adorned the top part of the post while the lower part had some decorative side mouldings. Although not impossible, I thought it would be awkward to put some trellising materials on this lower portion of the post. Wall wire trellises are best mounted on flat-faced walls rather than on walls that have ridges or bumps like in this case, concrete moldings.

Low Garden Trellises

Some gardeners work to assemble a big trellises that they envision will be covered by robust climbing vines some day.

Do remember however that plants always start small. And sometimes gardeners transfer a young vine to the trellis only to realize that the vine is still too small to reach the newly built trellis.

Did the gardeners make the mistake of building a trellis that's too high for the small vine to reach? Not at all!

Building a trellis structure whose bottom edge is too low is a waste of trellising material. It also covers the lower part of the wall unnecessarily. Remember, vines grow upwards anyway. Some gardeners would even just let the young vine just grope along the wall until they reach the wall trellis to gain support - eventually.

Trellis Starter for a Quick Start

In my experience, providing small young vines, especially the clinging or twining types, with a trellis starter allows them to grow much quicker. It gives vines a shorter distance to move from point A to point B, or ground to trellis. Essentially, what you do is give the plant a bridge to cross to "get to the other side and be on it's way."

Trellis Starter Materials

You can be flexible with what materials to use for a trellis starter. Most would simply use twigs, sticks, bamboo rods and the like. And that would work. Here's an example of a piece of bamboo rod with twigs that was initially used to support the vine in its new location.

Others make use of scrap materials like twine, metal wires, even screen. My choice of material for a trellis starter is the insulated solid strand wire. Solid strand wire is a versatile gardening material for garden projects.

And you don't need a lot of it for many applications. In fact, I've only used scraps of this material in garden projects.

Advantages of an Insulated Solid Strand Wire as a Trellis Starter

  • Stiff enough yet bendable

    The wire, as a trellis starter is stiff enough to retain its form. Yet it's thin enough to allow you to jab it into the soft soil. With a pair of pliers, you could easily bend it. In the photo below, I used a pair of pliers to bend the trellis starter and hook it to the trellis structure. I then planted the other end on the ground.

  • Does not rust nor rot

    Even if you leave the trellis starter on the trellis and forgot about it, there are no worries. Unlike twigs or sticks, this trellis starter does not rot and will not invite termites later on. The insulation as well as the wire material does not rust nor deteriorate.

  • Easily pulled out

    The smooth surface of the rubberized or plastic insulation makes it much easier for you to remove the trellis starter when you no longer need it. Usually, this is the time when the primary vine branches would have have reached the trellis and took hold.

    For twining vines, like the Maiden's Jealousy example above, a quick upward tug is all that's needed to remove the trellis starter. If the vine has established itself well, carefully shake the trellis starter a bit. This will loosen the grip of the twining vine branches. Then slowly pull it out.

    Now imagine if a dried branch or twig was used instead as a trellis starter. The vine branches would likely be intertwined with the twigs so much that it would be difficult to loosen and pry it away.

    One practical way to remove the trellis starter then would be to cut it away piece by piece. But you'll be left with a tangled mess of vine branches, as there's no more twigs to take the slack.

    Because of the hassle, some gardeners just don't remove the trellis starter anymore.

Shown below is the base of the Maiden's Jealousy vine with the trellis starter removed. Notice how clean it now looks.

The base is clear of trellising materials and the vine's trunk has become thicker. You're now free to plant additional ground cover or simply let the garden lawn grass to take over the bare patch.

Shown below is a fully established vine climbing in the garden trellis structure. The trellis starter has been removed and the primary branches have become robust. Secondary vine branches have sprouted and the vine has taken over the trellis.

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