Trellis Types and Design

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  • Post last modified:May 15, 2015
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A new client of mine just purchased a brand new home in Encinitas and asked me to put together a new design and plan for the landscaping around his home. I was happy to oblige and will usually put together a plan for my clients with the caveat that I will get the work if the costs are accepted. If not, I am paid for my design time.

Like most homes, this property was fairly rectangular in nature with North, South, East and West exposures. On the South side of his property, he had a fairly large space open to the hard hitting sun with very little shade to be found.

This I thought would be a perfect place to create some respite from the sun, a small patio area for enjoyment and also a place to help cool the structure of the house and the breezes that moved into the house from the windows located there.

At first I thought about using a typical trellis which can have many uses other than shade production. Sometimes when a home is located on a small lot, the monolithic homes next door become very imposing and reduce privacy down to living life in a fish bowl.

I have found that a well placed trellis can often times break up the visual lines of sight between houses and especially screen the second story windows that often look directly down upon the next door neighbors living spaces. In this case though, I wanted to think outside the box and come up with a creative and innovative solution to the problems that typically come with outdoor patio covers.

Most trellis structures are usually supported by posts. Sometimes you can cheat a little bit when creating an L shaped patio cover and hang one of the beams off an intersecting beam where the corner of the L meets, thereby eliminating the center post. But for the most part, posts can interrupt the living space in these outdoor “rooms” and dictate where furniture and pots are placed.

With this in mind, I decided to design an arcing trellis that curved almost 90 degrees from East to North while facing due South. The new trellis would arc around the planter area that lay directly behind it and soften the jag of the home in this area.

Now here came the creative aspect. Instead of using two sets of beams and posts as in typical construction, my design incorporated one set of posts with arching metal supports that would be cantilevered outward towards the South and West as the trellis itself arched from East to North.
Using Trex or Azek for the slats or shade producing elements attached above the arcing metal supports, this design allowed for fantastic freedom of movement under the trellis. It also made the space so much more inviting with uninterrupted views of the garden from underneath it while sitting in the coolness of the shade it produced.

The posts on this trellis design where curvilinear as they rose from the ground using round stock muffler pipe that could curve gracefully out over at the top of the trellis to span 12 to 14 ft. quite easily. By using two pipes for each post, additional attractive metal scroll work would be installed between them, stiffening the supports and adding beauty to the design.

One of the most common problems with outdoor patio covers made from wood is that with the advent of regular moisture from the beach you get fungal infestation or dry rot between the trellis slats or on the beams themselves. Once this happens, the affected wood must be removed completely.

By using composite wood like Trex, or Azek; there is little to no maintenance and the material will stay looking good for years without the need for painting. Being a low maintenance kind of guy, I love this application.

You might wonder about the steel being used for support. Won’t it rust? I have found from using steel railings around my own home a mile from the beach that the trick is simply to metalize after fabrication.

A zinc coating applied after sandblasting will not rust and loves a coat of paint. Do you need assistance with Trellis installation or associated design? Call CHGardens today!