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DIY help needed for a modern trellis


We’re creating our garden from scratch this year, and have already managed to move our fence, sow a lawn, put in lawn sprinklers and plant up borders (see before and progress so far pictures below!), but the next thing I’m itching to do is put up something for plants to climb up around the perimeter to hide the fence and make a habitat for wildlife. 

We’re going for a modern look, so a horizontal battened style trellis would look perfect (see pictures below for some ideas of what I’m after).

All advice is welcome, but in particular I’d love your advice on what wood to use as I can’t see battens first this purpose widely available. I’d like to keep to cost down, maybe to under £50 per 1.8m x 1.8m panel if possible but this is just a starting point. If it’s more expensive I’ll just do it panel by panel.

Many thanks in advance for your help :)



  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 24,413
    On garden makeover programmes these panels tend to be made from redwood or cedar and are not cheap.  You could try looking at roofing battens from a good DIY store or builders' merchant and then stain or paint them to a colour of your choice and then attach them to posts yourselves.  That would give you more flexibility on height, width and intervals between battens too.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LatimerLatimer Latimer, BuckinghamshirePosts: 593
    I can confirm that the cedar slats are not cheap. The cedar screen I'm currently building at home is costing about £3 per linear meter of 50mmx8mm cedar. That's quite thin, the good stuff is 15mm thick and it's closer to £5 per meter. The cost of your panels will then depend on the spacing of your cedar slats, the bigger the space, the less you need.

    You also need to factor in the cost of the posts, which I can't remember off the top of my head.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    I used roofing battens. Can't remember how much they are, but not expensive, especially if you have a builder's merchant nearby.
    Easy to work with and versatile. Paint/stain etc to suit the look you want.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 1,653
    As I see it, these slats are expensive and in the end, they can disappear under climbing plants. What about doing only two or three panels somewhere when they will be visible (close to a seating area or in the direct view from your house) and planting less vigorous climbers there. And on the rest of the fence, you could simply use tensioned wires. If you plan to plant vigorous climbers, suitable for hiding the fence and as a habitat for wildlife (clematis montana, c. armandii, jasmine, roses etc.) whatever you do there it will quickly become invisible. A combination of less covered and more covered fence panels would be nice.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,420
    edited June 2020
    I also use roofing battens - just be aware that they are fairly low-grade but treated softwood and long lengths often warp (and sometimes are supplied that way by some merchants!) so do need attaching to more verticals between the posts to keep them straight.  In your example photos, they would be fine for a design like the 4th photo where there are verticals every 18" or so, but not the last photo, where they would only be supported at each end with a 6ft unsupported stretch, a scenario where I would almost guarantee many would warp over time.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you all for your responses. 

    Roofing battens seem like a really good call, they look to be really reasonably priced (£1.12/m at Wickes) so 20 battens @ 1.8m would be about £40, not bad!

    My other thought was to do something like the picture below, where the section above the fence are closer and those below are further apart with a clear section at the bottom where plants are densest, so you wouldn’t see the trellis anyhow. Do you think that would look any good? 

    That would mean using about 13 battens instead of 20 so I could afford redwood, which works out at about £35/panel... :)

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 24,413
    Seems like a good solution to me.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 3,444
    I knocked this up for mum using 38x19mm tantalised softwood (cost £2 per 4.8m batten). I will fix a vertical batten to the back (halfway between the posts) because they tend to bow differentially.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 3,444
    edited June 2020
    The gaps are 19mm, so building is easy, you use offcuts of battens as spacers.

    I guess you might need wires as well if you are having such narrow gaps.

    Might be simpler just to paint your current fence black and affix wires between the posts.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,892
    I think it would be a waste of time, effort and money covering your existing fence with additional trellising. I speak from experience, having covered an ugly block wall with quite expensive diagonal fencing a few years back. Virtually invisible now!  If you are going to plant climbing plants, as Edhelka says, the plants will soon cover the fence anyway. You could achieve this quite cheaply by using tensioned wiring between your existing fence posts. You could then erect trellising on top of your fence to provide extra height if that is what you want to achieve. 
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