How to Build a Fan Trellis

A fan trellis sits against a wall in a residential yard.
What You'll Need
Radial arm or table saw
Two knot-free 1x4s, preferably cedar
Two "C" clamps
Power drill
1/4-inch and 1/16-inch drill bits
1/4-inch by four-inch machine bolts with washers and nuts
Galvanized box nails
One pressure-treated 2x4

Garden designers will often use a fan trellis to give form to a blank wall or a lost corner of the yard or to add a new shape to the landscape design. The simplicity of the fan, the openness of the structure and the way plants wind and climb around its slender ribs give a structured but airy feel whereever you ultimately place it. With basic woodworking skills, a few simple tools, and three to four hours of time, you can create your own and spice up your backyard landscape.

Step 1 - Cut Your Lumber

Begin by cutting your cedar 1x4 into seven 3/4-inch strips with your saw. The exact length of these strips can be left up to personal preference, but in this case, we've set ours at eight feet.

Also, make sure the wood is without knots because these will cause the wood to break or splinter when the strips are bent. Once you have your strips cut, set two off to one side; these will be cut to different lengths for crosspieces.

Step 2 - Bolt Your Fan Together

After setting aside two strips, take the remaining five, place them side-by-side and bolt them together. To do this use two "C" clamps to hold them together securely. Drill two holes through the entire stack with the 1/4-inch drill bit, approximately four and six inches from the bottom. Secure the strips together with the 1/4-inch by 4-inch machine bolts; the bolt should go all the way through all five strips with a quarter of an inch of excess on the other side.

Step 3 - Cut and Attach the Top Crossbar

Cut one of the two strips you set aside earlier so it is 50 inches long. Measure the center of that piece and mark it with a pencil. Then, drill a guide hole with the 1/16-inch bit for one of the galvanized nails and attach this strip to the center strip of the fan. This is your top crossbar.

Space the remaining strips on each side of the center equally along the crossbar and attach them the same way; the outermost strip on each side should be attached at the end.

Step 4 - Cut and Attach the Center and Lower Crossbars

At this point your fan is almost complete. Now you just need to add two more crossbars for stability. Taking your remaining 3/4-inch strip, cut it into sections. Your second crossbar will be 38-inches long, and the third will be 24. Measure approximately 16 inches down from your first, longest one, and attach your 38-inch piece. Pre-drill the guide hole to avoid splitting the wood with your nail. Then, measure down another 16 inches and repeat to secure the bottom crossbar.

Step 5 - Attach Your Stake

Finally, take a piece of 2x4 pressure-treated lumber and cut out a three-foot, 1 1/2-inch by 1 1/2 inch stake. Drive it into the ground where you want your trellis to go and leave only about eight to 10 inches remaining above the ground. Then, drill two 1/4-inch holes through both the trellis and the stake. Bolt them together and secure the washer and nut. Place your potted vines or plants at the bottom or plant a few new climbing plants and you're done!