This easy-to-build arbor will become a peaceful retreat in your garden.

August 26, 2015
Tall plants and structures can help make a garden seem bigger.

Finding a peaceful spot to relax in the garden can be as easy as parking yourself under the nearest shade tree. But not everyone has a tree large enough to do the job, and those who do may not want to contend with the ants that always seem to be crawling up the trunk. A good alternative is to build a garden arbor. Not only will you have a cozy retreat, but you'll also end up with a shady, stylish addition to your garden. Grow a flowering vine on it, and it may become a focal point of your landscape.

Pick a suitable location for your structure. It should be a level spot with enough sun exposure for the plants you want to grow. The arbor pictured is up against a garage, with the back of the structure tucked under the roof eaves.

What You Need:

  • Circular saw
  • Saber saw or wood chisel
  • Miter saw
  • Weatherproof glue
  • Deck screws
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Twenty-six 2x4s: 6 for rafters, 1 for ridge beam, 8 for roof crosspieces, 4 for column posts, 4 for corner braces, and 3 for base
  • Two 1x2s for cross ties
  • Two 36 x 68-inch panels of 1x2 lattice
  • Two 12 x 72-inch ladders
Print this plan out to use as a guide while building.

Assembling the Roof

1. After studying the illustration, cut 2x4s to make six 4-foot-6-inch rafters, allowing for a slight overhang on the sides. With a miter saw, make 23-degree angle cuts on the ends of each rafter. Cut another 2x4 to make a 3-foot ridge beam. Use weatherproof glue and deck screws to attach rafters to ridge beam. Cut two 2-foot-4-inch 1x2 cross ties; attach to rafters.

2. Cut 2x4s to make eight 3-foot crosspieces. These will be spaced across rafters, four on each side of the roof. With a miter saw, make 45-degree angle cuts on ends of each crosspiece for decoration.

3. To attach crosspieces to rafters, you'll need three notches along the bottom of each crosspiece. Mark locations for notches by laying a crosspiece in position atop rafters, leaving the desired overhang on the front and back. Use a saber saw or wood chisel to cut out 1-1/2-inch-deep notches. The notches should be just wide enough for crosspiece to fit snugly over rafters. Repeat for each crosspiece.

4. To keep the roof section stable while attaching the posts, attach just one crosspiece on each side of the roof before continuing. To do so, place crosspiece in position and attach with weatherproof glue and deck screws. Attach remaining crosspieces after arbor is finished.

Attaching the Posts

5. Cut the four posts to 5 feet, 8 inches from 2x4s, making a 23-degree angle cut on one end of each post. Cut four 5-inch-long pieces of 2x4s to make the short corner braces. Make a 45-degree angle cut on the bottom end of each brace and a 23-degree-angle cut on the top end of each brace. Attach a brace to each post with glue and deck screws.

6. Turn the rafter assembly on its end and attach the two rear posts and braces with glue and deck screws. Carefully stand the structure and position it in the desired location. Check for level. Align the front posts with the rear posts; attach front posts to rafters. To brace bottom, cut two 2x4s to 3-foot length; attach between bottoms of front and rear posts on both sides. Cut one 2x4 to 6-foot length; attach at back of arbor.

7. To finish the assembly, attach 36 x 68-inch lattice panels to both ends of arbor. Optional step: attach 12 x 72-inch ladders to back of arbor to hold vines. Cut off top portion of one rail on each ladder before attaching to rafters.

8. Paint or stain arbor.


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