Building a Decorative Patio Trellis Building a Decorative Patio Trellis

What You'll Need
Post digger
Plumbline (Plumbob)
Skill saw
Tape measure
Cement mix
4x6 Joist brackets
Pressure-treated cedar: 4x4 posts, 4x6 beams, 2x6 rafters

A patio trellis is a structure that is designed to support the vertical growth of climbing vine plants. It is typically made from interwoven wood strips, but there are many variations of them. A garden trellis can be as simple as two vertical posts supporting several pieces of interwoven twine for sweet peas to climb through, while a decorative patio trellis can be quite ornate, involving cemented-in posts, horizontal beams and rafters. This type can be freestanding or supported in part by a house or a fence. This particular how-to article will walk you through building a freestanding trellis.

Step1: Determine Location/Dig Holes for Posts

Determine where you want the trellis to stand. Ideally it will be on level ground with no trees, bushes or power wires in danger of obstructing it. Once you have the location picked out, mark the four corners of the trellis in the ground with stakes. Check and double check the dimensions before you dig. Next, using the post digger, make the holes for the four posts. The holes should be at least 2 feet deep and wide enough to accommodate 3 inches of cement around each of the 4x4s.


Step 2: Set Posts

Cement in one post at a time. Mix up a bag of cement in the wheelbarrow using the hoe. Make sure you have the level handy because each post must set perfectly straight. Set the pressure treated post in the hole and fill with cement. Hold the level vertically on two sides of the post as the cement is setting. The plumbline will indicate if the 4x4 is straight. As it begins to set, smooth out the surrounding cement with a trowel or a flat piece of wood. Do this for the other three posts. If your holes were dug properly, the four posts should be the corners of a perfect square or rectangle.


Step 3: Hang Beams

For the beams you will use the 4x6 pressure treated pieces. Measure the distance between each adjacent post from the inside to the inside. Cut the beams to length first. A skill saw may work, but if the beam is too thick, use a handsaw. Attach joist brackets evenly at the top of the posts – 2 per post, one each facing the post it will connect to. Use the screwdriver and wood screws for this, but make sure you drill a set hole for each screw first. When the brackets are secure, set each beam in place. You may need a helping hand for this. Each beam should fit snugly. Through the holes in the brackets, set more wood screws to secure the beams to the brackets.


Step 4: Rafters

Now that the basic frame of the trellis is built, it’s time to set the rafters. Use the pressure treated 2x6s and hang them widthwise in even intervals. On the long beams, mark the spot where each rafter will sit. For a more decorate trellis, cut each rafter so it overhangs the beam. Where each rafter comes into contact with the beams, cut out a 4 inch long by 2 inch deep piece so the rafter fits onto the beam. Once you secure it with screws, it makes it stronger and more attractive.

When the posts, beams and rafters have been assembled, your trellis is structurally complete. You can choose to adorn like you wish. Cutting the corners of the rafters off at 45 degree angles in one such option. Make sure you use pressure treated wood, though, or else the water will ruin it after time. All you have to do now is let the climbing plants make their way up it!



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