Trellises can help reduce the cost of air conditioning for homes in hot climates by providing shade where you need it the most. Trellises should be installed on the east, west, or south side of your home, outside the rooms that tend to overheat during the hot days of summer.

Owners of manufactured homes in the Southwest have developed some very creative uses for trellises. Some mobile-home owners on sun-drenched sites build trellises combined with overhangs to create shaded walkways or porches along the walls of their home. Many homeowners also use trellises to shade their decks. Trellises can be covered with plants such as vines, but others provide shade all by themselves.

Some of the most popular trellis vines include Morning Glory, Clematis, Wisteria, and Grape. Consult your extension agent or local nursery about the characteristics of locally available trellis vines.

This trellis creates a cool area on the west side of this home. Trellises grow faster than trees and can be sculpted to the exact shading profile needed.

Ask these questions when choosing trellis vines

  • How heavy is the full-grown vine?
  • What type of fruits and flowers will it produce?
  • How deep will its roots grow?
  • How long will it take for the vine to cover the trellis?
  • How much litter will it produce?

Be sure to consider how an improperly designed trellis could damage your home. If you live in a wet climate, don’t install a trellis against your foundation where it could cause moisture problems. And don’t install a plant-covered trellis over foundation drainage systems that could be clogged by plant roots.

Full-grown vines can be quite heavy, so you should design your trellis to support the mature weight of the vine you choose. You can build a trellis yourself out of rot-resistant wood, steel, or plastic materials. There are also many manufactured trellises for sale at nurseries and home centers.

Both Your Home Cooling Energy Guide andThe Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency have extensive information about maintaining comfort and reducing air-conditioning costs.