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.

Cultivate 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 that's lively as well as artistic—watch for the bees and butterflies to be drawn to the flowers. The possibilities for DIY trellises are endless.

Use rot-resistant wood, such as cedar or pressure-treated pine, to give your garden trellis durability. 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.

Related: Planning Your Vegetable Garden

  • Working Time 2 Hours
  • Start to Finish 2 Hours
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Easy
  • Involves Drawing, Measuring, Sawing, Drilling, Painting, Digging, Planting

What you need

Tools

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

Materials

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

Cuts

  • 1x2 cedar
    6- or 8-foot strips

How to do it

Step 1 Plan Your Trellis

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

Step 2 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.

Related: Build a Container Trellis

Step 3 Finish the Grid

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

Step 4 Lay Out Trellis Pieces

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

Step 5 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 trellis as desired with stain or exterior paint. Or, leave the cedar boards and allow them to turn gray with age naturally.

Related: Vertical Gardening Must-Knows

Step 6 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 base of the structure. Morning gloryblack-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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