How to Build a Trellis

Learn how to build a trellis with our easy step-by-step instructions. Make your own simple trellis in an afternoon, then plant your garden and watch it grow up.

Garden trellis with climbing vines

Peter Krumhardt

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Cultivate a living wallpaper by training a flowering vine up a trellis stuck in the ground or mounted on an exterior wall. The result: a wall treatment lively and artistic. Bees and butterflies will be drawn to the flowers, adding color and beauty to your garden. The possibilities for building trellises are endless.

Use rot-resistant wood for trellis construction, such as cedar or pressure-treated pine, to make your garden trellis durable. Use exterior-grade stain or primer and paint to protect your wooden trellis. Painting before you assemble pieces may spare you brushwork later but may require touch-ups where screws have been inserted.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Paper, pencil
  • Saw
  • Chalk
  • Screwdriver or electric drill
  • Posthole digger
  • Shovel


  • 1x2 cedar in 6- or 8-foot strips
  • 1-1/4-inch exterior screws
  • Exterior paint or deck stain
  • Gravel
  • Vining plant


  1. Make Cuts

    Cut your wood to the below dimensions.

    Piece Dimensions Quantity
    1x2 cedar 6- or 8-foot strips 0
  2. Lattice strips for trellis

    Peter Krumhardt

    Plan Your Trellis

    Sketch out your trellis on a sheet of paper, including the dimensions. Tally and gather the number and lengths of boards needed. Cut the boards to the correct size, according to your plan.

  3. Trellis Guide

    Peter Krumhardt

    Create a Guide

    Using one of the straight cedar boards as a guide, draw several parallel lines 6 inches apart on a concrete surface in chalk. This will serve as a simple guide during assembly. Follow this guide to ensure the proper distance between boards when assembled.

  4. Trellis chalk grid

    Peter Krumhardt

    Finish the Grid

    Draw another series of parallel lines perpendicular to the first set, creating a grid of 6-inch squares. This isn't intended to create an actual pattern for the trellis but to offer a visual reference. This way, when you lay out the pieces of your trellis, it's easy to keep the boards parallel with right angles true.

  5. Trellis boards on grid

    Peter Krumhardt

    Lay Out Trellis Pieces

    Create the desired trellis pattern by laying the boards on the chalk grid. Try laying out a few designs before deciding on the one you want. Then, before securing with screws, make any adjustments to get the pattern you want.

  6. Assemble trellis

    Peter Krumhardt

    Assemble Trellis

    Wherever boards intersect, drive two screws. Do this from the back side, so the screw heads won't be visible on the front. After securing the trellis pieces together, you can stain or paint the wood for the trellis as desired with stain or exterior paint. Or, leave the cedar boards and allow them to turn gray with age naturally.

  7. Place the Trellis and Plant

    Dig postholes at least 10 inches deep and fill the bottom few inches of the holes with gravel. Place the garden trellis posts in the holes and plumb them. Backfill with soil, tamping every few inches to ensure the posts are stable.

    Plant vining annuals, perennials, or shrubs at the structure's base. Morning glory, black-eyed Susan vine, and sweet peas are particularly easy to grow and striking when grown on garden trellis panels against a lackluster wall. They'll quickly light up the wall with a colorful flower show. Remove the spent vines at the end of the growing season.

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