Using Trellis Panels in Fences

I used trellis panels to reduce the visual impact of the 2m fence that runs along one side of my garden. The trellis will outlive the fence panels which can be replaced independently.

The word garden means “a guarded den”; and like the archetypal Garden of Eden most home gardens today benefit from strong boundaries to enclose and guard their enchanted spaces. The walled gardens of old England come closest, perhaps, to this ideal with their sturdy stone or brick walls, but for most of us the cost of such boundaries is eye-wateringly prohibitive. Apart from hedges, the only other option, then, is the common or garden fence, so let’s start there.

A common mistake — especially in the case of rear gardens — is to erect a fence that is too low. To keep the focus inside your garden and to create a sense of privacy and seclusion, boundaries need to be higher than eye level, so 1.8m (6ft) is a minimum. In the UK garden fences can be erected up to 2 metres high (6ft 6inches) without planning permission (as long as they are not adjacent to a highway). If like me you have inherited fences that are only 1.5m high (5 ft) you may have wondered how you can increase the height without ripping everything out and starting again. Trellis is one answer: It looks natural and if you build your own, it can be durable and attractive too. However, even if you are installing a fence from scratch (as I did in the case of the photo above) there are several good reasons to consider including a trellis section…

5 reasons for using
trellis on Your fence

  • Improved look. 2m of standard garden fence can look very blank, slab-like and featureless — even daunting or municipal. Trellis adds textural interest and immediately provides a “garden look”.
  • Reduced wind load. A solid 2m fence acts like a sail catching the full force of the wind. The pierced nature of trellis allows air to pass through, reducing wind speed and the force exerted on your fence, so it is less likely to be damaged in a storm.
  • Better garden micro-climate. When wind whips over a solid boundary it causes powerful eddies and gusts on the far side. Trellis breaks us the air flow, making a calmer environment within the garden
  • Less shadow. A solid fence can cast long shadows throwing parts of the garden into heavy shade. Trellis, on the other hand, will allow dappled sunlight to pass through.
  • Privacy & Neighbourliness. Because of the thickness of the trellis slats, you can only see through within a 45 degree window of straight on. From greater angles the view is blocked. This means it is possible to chat to the neighbours through the fence when you want, yet still have an overall sense of privacy and enclosure.

Adding Trellis to an Existing fence

If you want to increase the height of an existing fence you will have to increase the height of the posts, and this cannot be done effectively by adding anything to the top of the post — it will simply prove too difficult to attach effectively. it is far simpler and stronger to screw new, taller timber to the front of the existing posts. This is what I did to a section of fence to the side of my back garden. The black posts are the new ones, attached to the existing concrete posts.

The extension posts consist of 2×4 (50 x 100mm) treated timber. These were cut to length then screwed to the existing 5ft (1.5m) concrete posts using rawl plugs. Personally, I do not like the look of concrete posts in a garden, much preferring the look of timber. Fixing a timber fascia to concrete posts like this improves the look to my eye and is worth doing even if you are not increasing the height of the fence. Another benefit of adding a timber fascia to a concrete post is that makes adding wire supports that much easier.

At the top of each post I screwed an additional piece of 2×4 to the back so that it overhung the existing fence panels. This ensured that the trellis panels sat directly above the existing fence panels instead of hanging forwards. (For detail click image to right ▸)

Note: The posts in my example have been painted black as that is the colour I want for the finished fence.

Trellis panels were then constructed (see my next post for the construction of the trellis) and fitted in between the posts. They were attached with decking screws (3inch/75mm) into the back section of top post as shown below.

Below is the finished fence extension, viewed across the back of the house.

I could have stopped here as it is perfectly acceptable like this with the new black posts and trellis framing the fence panels, but I decided to increase privacy further by adding more horizontal slats and painting the fence panels black too. Below is the final result with horizontal support wires running between the posts and the beginnings of an espaliered pyracantha trained up them.

Including Trellis Panels in a New Fence

It is easier to include trellis panels in a fence when it is first built. Using commercial 1.5m (5ft) panels for the lower section, I used 2 m (2′ 6″) posts leaving 45 cm (18″) for the trellis panels. In the photos below you can see the part of this fence that is adjacent to the vegetable garden. Originally built in 2008, the fence has stood the test of time and now 12 years old the trellis is still strong, secure and beautiful. The commercial fence panels, unfortunately, are not doing so well and will need replacing before long.

Beginning of the vegetable garden 2009 — I incorporated trellis into the new fence in 2008
Constructing the vegetable garden 2009 — I incorporated trellis into the new fence in 2008
Trellis tops the long fence where trained fruit (apples, pear and fig) are trained in fans and double cordons (vegetable garden 2019)
Fence with Trellis. Fan trained pear growing on fence.
After 12 years the trellis has aged beautifully, but is still strong and secure. The commercial fence panels will need replacing first.

2 thoughts on “Using Trellis Panels in Fences”

  1. Hi,
    Have you been troubled by the box moth? And what did you do? I have a similar parterre thing going on, and am about to declare war on the caterpillars.
    Also, do you think it would be possible to use the Osmo one coat on an already painted newish shed, this paint looks as though it has better coverage.
    With regards.

    • Hi there! No, I’ve not had box moth. I started spraying the box with a box commercial “health tonic” (Buxus health I think it’s called) that is supposed to stop them getting blight. Not sure if it will prevent box moth though…
      The OSMO is not supposed to go over standard paints only properly microporous (erosive) paints. That said, we have used it in many situations indoors and out that are not listed on the tin and it has been great. So worth a try.


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