Easy Espalier Trellis

3 Materials
3 Hours

While remodeling the interior of our house, the exterior was severely neglected. The backyard was in especially bad shape as it had been the dumping spot during demolition. Warm weather, completing inside projects, and my son's longer naps encouraged me to get cracking on the backyard! Our first summer in the house was all about clearing debris and overgrown plants, with some time dedicated to planting along one side of our fence. The second summer we focused on creating flower beds, a walking path, and more planting. As the bed and path shaped up, the fence was looking pretty shabby in comparison. I decided to stain the fence, but was worried it wouldn't turn out good. As a back up I figured a trellis with vines on the fence would be a good way to disguise any of my mistakes! Luckily the stain looked fine, but I was still determined to try a tutorial I came across from Megan Pflug's site, meganpflugdesigns.com, called Espalier Garden Redux. It is so easy and pretty budget friendly. Keep reading for my lessons learned.

Espalier complete!
The "before"

I started with this section of the yard because it was the easiest. The back section of fencing is on a slope and at the top of an eroding rockery. The other section of fence is chainlink and is next to a very overgrown open lot. Okay, on to the juicy bit.

3 easy materials.

My sister-in-law liked my trellis so much she wanted to try too! We used just three materials on her fence. The in-process shots are from her yard because I forgot to capture my own. Her fence wood was soft enough that we didn't need to drill holes for the hooks. However, when I installed my espalier I had to drill holes. I would suggest testing the hooks in your fence to see if a drill is needed. Twist the hook as you would a push pin on a cork board. Once you determine your method, decide on your pattern. I did the diamond grid pattern because I was worried I would need to camouflage my poor staining ha ha. My sister went for a more simple zig zag. This took less hooks and doesn't cover as much of the fence.

Once a hook is in place, thread the wire through the hole. Connecting to the next hook can be done a couple ways. I tried two different ways, maybe there are more!

At first I cut the wire to fit from one hook to the next. I did this because the wire was kind of unruly and I found it was more manageable in shorter lengths. My husband watched me do a few sections and asked why I didn't string longer sections of wire through multiple hooks. I demonstrated how the wire "fought me" when I unravelled large sections. As the bundle of wire got smaller, his method was more doable and saved wire. Another thing my husband noticed is I was using the wrong wire cutters. Sigh, I had used wire crimpers. They definitely were not as sharp and it took me way longer to cut wire compared to the proper tool!

Whether your wire is strung through two or more hooks, once cut you will bend it into a loop and wrap it back around itself. Wire cutters or wire crimper can tighten the loop if desired. Continue threading, cutting and wrapping until your pattern is complete.

Zig zag "v" pattern

The silver wire definitely blends in to weather worn wood more, which is nice considering the time it will take for vines to start climbing. Silver wire pops against my dark fence, which I dont mind. But I cant wait until the vines take off and fill in!

Have you used this technique before? How did it work for you?

Follow me on Instagram @this.dear.casa for more views of my garden, DIY, and renovation. Thanks!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Michele
    on Nov 11, 2019

    I love what you did. I like the fact when your plants grow it gets covers up and it's cheaper than wood. I wondered if using the little round eye hooks would hold the wire in place better than cup hooks so you didn't have to keep cutting the wire? Thank you for sharing. Looks great!

    • This Dear Casa
      on Nov 11, 2019

      Michele, I also like your point about wood trellis. I didn't like the shapes I saw while shopping. Wire is an easy way to customize and change from season to season.

  • Elizabeth
    on Nov 11, 2019

    Looks awesome, but have you given thought to the weight of the plants pulling the fence over? My new-to-me-home HAD a wooden fence (probably pretty old) with jasmine growing on it, and since I live in Florida we get LOTS and LOTS of rain as well as the ground is sand, so there-fore the posts were set in the sandy soil with concrete. After a CRAZY storm RIGHT before I moved in the whole thing (at least 60 feet worth) just fell over.

    I think if you are frequently monitoring the plants and the stability of the structure you will likely be fine.

    • This Dear Casa
      on Nov 11, 2019

      Thank you! That is a great point! The honeysuckle vine will die off soon, so I will pull off the dead foliage. The newly planted English Ivy I will need to keep trim. I left them in pots to keep the growth in check.

  • Joanne McDaniel
    on Nov 11, 2019

    A fence is a open canvas for a Gardner! What plants did you use?

    • This Dear Casa
      on Nov 13, 2019

      Hi! Very well put. It does feel like an open canvas & I'm excited about all the options. On my fence there is a jasmine, think it's a common jasmine. I realize I referred to it as honeysuckle in other comments, but it's a jasmine! In pots I have variegated English ivy. I chose to use pots to monitor growth and to have option to move them if I don't like how they look once grown in. My sister is using jasmine varieties on her fence.

Join the conversation

3 of 34 comments
  • Pony
    on Dec 14, 2019

    Yes I’ve already got one started can’t wait to put it in the dirt and harvest it. How long does it take to grow a harvestable stock?

  • Wendy P.
    on Dec 28, 2019

    Beautiful great job

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