Gardening is a beloved pastime for many, a way to connect with nature, beautify an outdoor space, and even grow one's own food. While traditional structures like trellises have long been used to support climbing plants and maximize garden space, there are various innovative solutions that can offer not only functional support for your plants but also add a unique aesthetic to your garden. Whether it's due to aesthetic preference, budget constraints, or the desire for a DIY project, exploring alternatives to trellises can be a rewarding endeavor.

1. Repurposed Ladders

An old wooden or metal ladder can be repurposed into a charming, rustic plant support. This approach is not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective, utilising something that might otherwise have been discarded. Leaning against a wall or standing freely with planters on each rung, ladders can support a variety of climbing plants or serve as shelving for potted plants, adding vertical interest to your garden.

2. Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets offer another versatile and sustainable option. They can be fixed vertically to a wall or fence and equipped with pots, or laid horizontally and filled with soil for a raised garden bed. With spaces between the slats that naturally accommodate climbing plants, pallets serve as excellent makeshift trellises while also contributing to a modern, industrial look.

3. Monofilament Lines

For a nearly invisible option, monofilament lines (or sturdy fishing line) can be stretched between two posts to create a simple yet effective support system. This method works particularly well for peas, beans, and other climbers that need minimal support to ascend. The transparency of the lines ensures that the focus stays on the beauty of the plants.

4. Architectural Salvage

Items from architectural salvage, such as old window frames, gates, or ironwork, can bring a unique historical or decorative element to your garden. These pieces, when securely installed, offer sturdy support for climbing plants and make a statement piece that can redefine an outdoor space.

5. DIY Bamboo Structures

Bamboo poles can be lashed together with twine to create custom support structures that are both strong and aesthetically pleasing. From simple teepees and arches to more elaborate frameworks, the natural appearance of bamboo blends seamlessly with the garden, providing an organic backdrop for plant growth.

6. Cable and Wire Systems

Installing a system of horizontal wires or cables across a wall or frame can offer a modern twist on plant support. This method allows for flexibility in design and can be tailored to the specific needs of your garden space. It's particularly suited to espalier—the practice of training trees or shrubs to grow flat against a support—which can result in a stunning and productive garden feature.

7. Rope and Macramé Planters

Hanging planters crafted from rope or macramé can support trailing plants while adding vertical interest. Suspended from trees, pergolas, or even a simple hook on the side of a house, these planters are an excellent way to incorporate greenery where ground space is limited.


Gardening is an exercise in creativity and innovation, and the structures that support plant growth should be no different. By considering alternative solutions to traditional trellises, gardeners can discover new ways to enhance the functionality and appearance of their garden spaces. Whether through repurposing existing materials or experimenting with minimalist designs, the possibilities are as boundless as the gardener's imagination.