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When to Choose a Pergola Over a Trellis (And Vice Versa)

When to Choose a Pergola Over a Trellis (And Vice Versa)

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You’re probably searching for growing structures that can support your climbing vines and add beauty to your garden. To help you get that perfect element for your outdoor space, we’ll put two trending choices against each other: pergola vs trellis.

A trellis is an open framework of intersecting pieces of wood or metals designed to help vines climb upwards. Pergolas, on the other hand, are roof-like structures that can also support the growth of climbing plants and provide shade in the sitting area or pathways.

In this article, we’ll lay down the similarities and differences between these two structures, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. So, if you want to find out which one will be a perfect addition to your outdoor garden, stick around.

Pergola vs Trellis: Striking Similarities

Here’s a quick look at the things trellis and pergola have in common:


Pergola and trellis are both great structures to support climbing vines such as grapevines, climbing roses, clematis, and more. Aside from that, they can improve the look of your garden and boost your confidence in showing them off to visitors.


The most common material used for trellis and pergolas is wood because it’s more economical and it looks good. Metals and vinyl can also be used to form these structural elements within your backyard.

Pergola vs Trellis: Main Differences

Many people use the name trellis and pergola interchangeably, but they’re not the same. To convince you, here’s how they differ from each other:


Trellis may come in different shapes and styles, depending on the size of the outdoor area, the materials used, and one’s choice of design. Generally, it’s made of intersecting pieces of wood or metals, which can come in the form of a grid, arch, tripod, fence, or ladder.

Trellises can be freestanding or attached to the wall of a building. They can also serve as a privacy screen or accent piece to your garden.

On the other side, pergolas are four-legged structures that hold up a grid of latticework or beams and rafters on top. They can either be freestanding on your outdoor garden or attached in front of your house, or balcony.


Trellis may come in different sizes and forms, but they still appear smaller than a pergola. Standard trellis may stand one foot to six feet in height with a hole size of approximately 4.5″ x 4.5″.

Pergolas may come in different sizes, too, but the standard size is 13’ x 19’ with a space of 16″ to 19″ per rafter.

Advantages of Trellis

If you have your eye on the trellis, here’s what makes this structure better than pergolas:

1 – Support Climbing Plants’ Growth

Primarily, a trellis is built to support the growth of climbing plants, such as grapevines, tomatoes, squash, and more. With its vertical framework, it allows plants to grow upwards easily.

2 – Easy to Prune and Maintain

Pruning the plants is a lot easier on a trellis than on a pergola. Likewise, this structure has made it easy to spot diseases and pests on plants, making it quick to give appropriate intervention.

3 – Saves Space in Your Garden

Trellis structure is best when you want to maximize the space in your outdoor setting. Regardless if your garden is big or small, you can definitely plant more in an organized and stylish manner.

4 – Provides Good Circulation of Air and Exposure to Sunlight

Because of the way it’s designed, air can circulate better on plants. The sun, too, can give proper exposure to plants, hence promoting growth and quality fruits.

5 – Not Prone to Fungal Infection

Fungi and other microorganisms can’t thrive when plants get proper ventilation. Thanks to the trellis, you won’t have to worry that much about your plant getting a fungal infection.

6 – A Practical Solution for Adding Aesthetics to Your Landscape

Depending on the material you’ll use, a trellis can be more economical and budget-friendly than a pergola. Yet even with this convenience, a pergola can still add a great aesthetic to your outdoor garden.

7 – Easy to Install

Most trellises are fairly easy to install since they’re light and don’t need special tools. With a good knowledge of how to install trellises, and depending on your preferred size and style, you can complete the installation in a day.

Disadvantages of Trellis

While a trellis can be advantageous in some aspects, it also has a few downsides you should know about.

  1. Climbing plants on a trellis need regular pruning to keep them under control. In a nutshell, it requires extra time and attention.
  2. Eventually, the wood and wire trellis will need reinforcement and support to prevent it from falling.
  3. Exposure to wind and sun has drying effects on plants. Hence, you’ll have to water your plants regularly.

Advantages of Pergolas

Here are the benefits you can get by establishing a pergola in your garden or outdoor space.

1 – Provides Space for Plants Growth

Pergolas, just like Trellises, are also designed for vines and climbing plants to grow. The plants add natural beauty, a relaxing atmosphere, and a breath of fresh air, making pergolas a nice spot for relaxation.

2 – Gives a Nice Shade

Aside from the beamers and rafters that create open air and partial shade, the plants and vines that grow on top of it can block sunlight rays, too. This makes a pergola a good go-to spot when you want to get some fresh air and take a rest under little to no rays of the sun.

3 – Adds Beauty to Outdoor Landscape

A roof-like structure blooming with green plants adds a natural beauty that can put a smile on anyone’s face. Therefore, a pergola can enhance the landscape of your outdoor space, making it a great structure to add.

4 – Gives a Hospitable Spot for Activities

Pergolas can serve as a great spot for entertaining visitors, having coffee time, relaxing, studying, and more. You can also bring a sense of privacy into this structural element by adding outdoor curtains, drapes, or latticework.

Disadvantages of Pergolas

Before deciding on adding this structural design to your outdoor landscape, you should also look into its downside to know whether it’s worth building or not.

  1. Pruning, harvesting, and examining the vines and fruits is hard with this kind of structure.
  2. Pergolas need a bigger space to install.
  3. Pergolas are more costly than trellises.
  4. Wooden pergolas need to be repainted, cleaned, and treated over time to prevent them from weathering early on.
  5. Wooden pergolas have the potential to be infested with termites.

Pergola vs Trellis: Which is Better?

If you’re simply looking for a structure to support the growth of climbing plants, then a trellis is a nice choice. It’s aesthetically designed to help vines grow upwards by letting them wrap around its lattices.

Alternatively, if you like to add more definition to your garden setting and an outdoor room for fun activities, a pergola is perfect since it can serve both.

That being said, the best choice is always the one that serves its purpose right and works well with your budget, preference, and needs.

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