Build a Rustic Trellis

comments (4) July 29th, 2008

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The author with some of her trellises. Built using scavenged vines and saplings, each is a unique construction.
Twisted bittersweet vines create a sculptural look within the sapling frame.
A power drill makes quick work of attaching the vines to the frame.
The author with some of her trellises. Built using scavenged vines and saplings, each is a unique construction.Click To Enlarge

The author with some of her trellises. Built using scavenged vines and saplings, each is a unique construction.

Photo: John Bray

Steps to a trellis

It takes me about 30 minutes to put together a basic trellis once the wood and bittersweet are in hand. But I’ve been doing it for several years. It can be a little awkward manipulating the pieces the first time, and you might want to ask a friend to join in the fun.

  Tools  and hardware you'll need:

Power drill with 1⁄8-in. bit
Power screwdriver with Phillips-head bit
Steel rule
Pruning loppers
Drywall screws, 1 in., 1-1⁄2 in., and 2 in.
Nails, 3⁄4 in., 16 gauge
Get started by determining the size you want your trellis to be and what role it will play in the garden. If it’s purely decorative, go wild. On the other hand, if you want beans to climb it, make sure the bittersweet configura­tion will support the plants. You don’t need power drills, but they sure make the job easier.

1. Measure and cut two pieces for the frame sides, two crosspieces, and four corner braces. The sidepieces on this trellis are about 5-1⁄2 ft. long and 1-1⁄2 in. in diameter, the crosspieces about 2-1⁄2 ft. long and 1 in. in diameter, and the braces about 1 ft. long and 3⁄4 in. in diameter. The braces provide much of the trellis’s stability. The sidepieces need to be 10 in. longer than the desired trellis height, so you have enough frame to bury for stability.

Begin building by laying the sidepieces across a pair of sawhorses. Predrill the crosspieces and screw them onto the sidepieces. I use drywall screws of varying lengths to make sure they hold. Attach the bottom crosspiece 12 in. above the bottom of the trellis, which will leave enough length to bury, and the upper crosspiece about 6 in. from the top, which will provide support for attaching vines. Make sure the crosspieces are attached at the same height on both sides; otherwise your trellis will be crooked.

Predrilling   Braces
Predrilling crosspieces prevents splitting and makes it easier to drive screws. This can be done for all but the smallest pieces.   Over and under makes a good fit. Attach the four angled braces at the corners with one end on the back of the sidepiece and the other end on the front of the crosspiece.

3. Eyeball the trellis to make sure it’s square before attaching the corner braces. Set the braces so that one end can be attached to the back of the side frame and the other to the front of the crosspiece. Drill the corner brace and attach it to the side frame. Repeat this procedure at all four corners. Turn over the trellis. Again check for square. Drill the other end of the corner braces and attach them to the crosspieces. You’ve completed your frame.

4. The fun begins when you attach the vines to suit your fancy. Predrill holes in the vines and then drive screws into the frame. You can use the same procedure to attach vines to vines within the frame. If you want to use vine pieces that are too thin for screws, you can use small nails to attach them to the frame. Lop off the excess vine and find a place in the garden to stand your trellis.

Turn screws tight   Hammer and nail
Turn screws tight. But be careful when using a power drill that you don't split the wood.   Use a hammer and a nail to attach vines that are too thin for screws.
Fasten a vine   Lopping
Fasten a vine to a vine by predrilling the screw hole and driving the screw while supporting the vine with your hand. This is not a technique for beginners.   A little lopping keeps a trellis trim. Excess can be pared from the trellis with pruning shears or loppers.

More trellis designs:

Build an A-Frame Tomato Trellis

Three Garden Structures You Can Build
Constructing a Copper Pipe Trellis

by Janice Shields
October 1997
from issue #11

After you try it, show it off to other members in the
gardener's gallery.
Post your photos

posted in: Projects, trellis, structures

Comments (4)

silaswren writes: Great work done..
Posted: 12:50 am on October 10th
kathycat writes: So glad I found this site. I'm planning to make a rustic trellis for my morning glories. Thanks for all the ideas.

Posted: 10:55 am on May 10th
Silverridge0 writes: This was a wonderful teaching!! I want to make a backyard gate going into the woods behind our home, and this will be the inspiration for that project!! I'll use the same guidelines for strength and beauty as you've shown, to create this! Thanks, Janice!! Sherry Zumbaugh
Posted: 11:55 am on March 7th
vickim777 writes: Great timing! I was just thinking of making something like this. I hadn't thought of the braces, so that was a good touch. Thanks much.
Posted: 10:43 am on March 7th
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