Build a Garden Screen

Have something to hide in your garden? Here's help.
Add shelves to your wooden screen to place potted plants.

Have you ever wanted your air-conditioning unit or some other unsightly object to disappear from your landscape? One possibility is to hide it behind a fence, but a fence is so ... permanent. We offer another option: A folding screen that can be stored when not in use. This hinged, rough-cut cedar screen also doubles as a plant stand and holder. It's simple to construct, and you don't need a shop full of tools.

What You Need:

The screen's pieces fit together without the need of many tools.
  • Table saw or circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Speed square or clamp-on straightedge
  • Tape measure
  • Drill; 1/8-inch, 1-inch Forstner, and 1/4-inch Forstner drill bits
  • Pencil
  • Coffee can (36-ounce size)
  • Orbital sander and 120-grit sandpaper
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Clamps
  • Two 8-foot pieces of 1 x 12 rough-cut cedar
  • Six 2-inch butt hinges
  • Four No. 8 x 1-5/8 stainless-steel wood screws
  • Paint or stain, if desired


1. Download the free pattern. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Folding Garden Screen pattern

Download Adobe Acrobat

Add a hook for planters to your garden screen.

2. Use a speed square or a clamp-on straightedge as a guide for straight cuts. Start by cutting 1/2 inch off both ends of each 1 x 12 cedar board to ensure straight edges. Cut two 40-inch-long pieces from each board.

3. Use the coffee can as a template to round one end of each of the four 40-inch boards. With the edge of the can flush with the top and left side of the board, mark a semicircle with a pencil. Move the can so it's flush with the right side of the board, and mark a second semicircle. The two semicircles should meet at the center top of the board, creating two arcs. Cut ends with a jigsaw.

4. If desired, draw or stencil a flower design 4 inches up from the bottom of the two end boards. Cut out designs with a jigsaw.

5. To form brackets, use the two leftover 15-inch pieces of 1 x 12s. Cut two 11-1/8 x 11-1/8-inch square pieces. Save the scraps to make the shelves.

6. With speed square, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on each 11-1/8-inch square. Use lines as guides to cut pieces in half.

7. On each bracket, measure and mark each side 9 inches from the right angle. Using the coffee can as a template, draw a semicircle from each mark to the cut edge. Use a jigsaw to round the edges.

8. From the right angle of each bracket, measure 2 inches and then 2-7/8 inches along one side. Mark each spot. From those marks, mark a 4-1/2-inch notch into each bracket. The notch should be 7/8 inch wide, the same thickness as the wood. Cut out each notch with a jigsaw.

9. Cut a 4-1/2-inch-long and 7/8-inch-wide notch in the center top (between semicircles) of each 40-inch-long 1 x 12.

10. Mount brackets on the two end boards. Measure 4 inches from the notch of the bracket and 1 inch up from the bottom edge and mark. Remove brackets and drill a 1-inch hole with Forstner bit at marks on the two brackets.

11. Rip the scraps of cedar to 3 inches. Mount the brackets without 1-inch holes on the two center 40-inch boards. Hold a 3-inch shelf under each bracket. Mark each board where the shelves should be mounted. Drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole at each mark. Use 1-5/8 stainless-steel wood screws to attach shelf below bracket.

12. Remove brackets from boards. Arrange boards in the order they will appear. Lay first two adjacent boards next to each other, so inside edges are together. Clamp. Measure 4 inches from bottom of boards for location of bottom hinge. Measure 32 inches from bottom of boards for location of top hinge. Install hinges. Repeat this step for remaining two boards.

13. To attach the two sets of boards together, set them in a W pattern and clamp the two inside boards together. Measure for hinge location as in Step 11. Install hinges. Sand and paint or stain screen.


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