When I purchased hawk hill back in 2010, this pitiful little garden trellis was charged with a huge responsibility of holding up this boisterous and rather unkempt climbing rose. None of the trellises I looked at garden centers were either big enough or of the style that worked for Hawk Hill’s whimsical and rustic aesthetic. Building a great big trellis for this Rose was one of my first outdoor DIY projects at Hawk Hill, I quickly begin to imagine how I could build my own rustic and whimsical trellis that could support this Rose and all its heavy blooms!
I had a vision of creating a trellis out of raw lumber cut from young trees and lashed together with a natural-looking rope.
With this vision in mind, I hiked around the wooded perimeter of the farm and used tape to mark a dozen or so straight, roughly 2-3 inch circumference, young trees for my landscaper to cut during his next visit. Thankfully the hedgerow held many volunteer trees growing straight up towards splotches of sun in the shaded canopy, so finding these long straight trunks without too many offshoots with easy.
Step one, measuring
I began by measuring the height of my building and the width of the roses natural fan.
Head of my building, under the use, became the length to which I cut my upright trees, and I cut my crossbeams at approximately 90% of the width of the roses widest point of its natural fan.
Step two, creating a grid
Next, I laid my logs out on the ground integrated, visualizing the final trellis project. Using a wood drill bit, I predrilled holes for screws in the logs at the intersections. (Pre-drilling the holes helps prevent splitting during construction)
Next, I used 3 inch rustproof deck screws to join the horizontal beams to the vertical supports using the holes I have predrilled. While lag screws would have been needed if my cut wood was any thicker, the deck screws were more than sufficient to support the weight of the small logs and rose canes.
Step three – optional – weatherproofing
Where I’m from in Kansas, it’s not unusual to see metal flashing laid atop wood fence posts. Farmers know that while certain woods can last for years outdoors, protecting the wood from rainwater prolongs the life of fenceposts. In the same way, a tiny bit of weatherproofing can help this trellis last for a decade or more. For quick weatherproofing, just spray the cut ends of wood and the entry and exit points for the screws with a water sealant. For more durable weatherproofing, you can paint the entire trellis – bark and all – with a polyurethane sealant like those used to finish outdoor decks and patios.
Step four – finishing
I felt like my a trellis was a little bit raw when it was just cut wood. To cover the unsightly screws and create a more natural look, I took a second jute twine and wrapped each joint of the trellis where horizontal beams met and were secured to the vertical supports.
I simply tied my robots, however, because I have seen how the rope has frayed over time, when I repeat this project I will use large hammer–in staples combined with heavy duty outdoor glue to secure the ends of the rope permanently to the backside of the trellis.
My tree-trunk trellis may not last as long as a brand-new aluminum trellis would have, but it dwarfs the size of any trellis available in local garden centers and allowed my climbing rose to reach new heights.
Here’s a photo of the joints with and without the decorative rope covered joints:
This is a great fall/winter project! I happened to finish my XXL trellis in the spring, but ended up opting out of wrestling the thorny summer growth, and instead waited and installed the trellis the following winder after a harsh pruning.
And here’s my roses in bloom this spring! With a large trellis to support them they’ve grown huge and still look supported and only a bit wild!
Rose trellis tip: when you are your roses in the fall or winter, wind existing canes back and forth through the beams of the natural wood trellis. To keep roses in place, I cut up pantyhose and old stockings. The stretch of this material means the roses can move with the wind and are less likely to break, while the polyester material means that they will be securely bound for a few seasons before the material degrades.
Make sure and secure your rose trellis upright. Although this trellis appears to be leaned up against a building, it is actually set into the ground about 4-6 inches deep and is wired securely in place at the top.