How To Build a Backyard Trellis


New homeowners desiring a more attractive backyard living space for their families often turn to trellises. They provide a shot of beauty and timeless elegance to their outdoor backyard haven. Whether you want a trellis to serve as a privacy screen or simply a convenient clambering location for your favorite climbing vines, cedar provides an ideal wood choice due to its decay-resistant qualities, according to Jim Long, author of "Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences." Use 4-inch-by-4-inch posts and 1-inch-by-2-inch crosspieces as the main components to create a solid wood trellis that will last in your backyard for years. Measuring 4 feet wide by 7 feet tall, this trellis weathers to a soft gray color that blends in well with most landscape styles.

Step 1

Hammer two wooden stakes into the ground 4 feet apart to mark the post locations for your backyard trellis. Use a post hole digger to excavate the post holes to a depth of 2 feet.

Step 2

Insert the end of one post into one of the holes. Check with a level to ensure that the post is straight, then pound dirt in around the post with a tamping rod to secure the post solidly into the ground. Repeat this process for the other trellis post, making sure the outside edge of the second post is exactly 4 feet from the outside edge of the first cedar post.

Step 3

Turn one of the 2-inch-by-4-inch boards perpendicular to the posts. Locate the board approximately 6 inches from the ground and make sure the ends of the board are flush with the outside edges of the two posts. Secure the 4-inch side of the board to the cedar posts with 1 ½-inch galvanized nails. Repeat this entire process with the second 2-by-4-inch board, locating it flush with the top edges of the two poles. This should create a rectangular framework for your trellis.

Step 4

Position the first horizontal 1-inch-by-2-inch support board 3 inches above the bottom 2-inch-by-4-inch board. Make sure the horizontal support board is parallel to the 2-inch-by-4-inch board before you nail it in place to the posts. Repeat this process for each horizontal support board, locating each one 3 inches above the previous one. This should create a ladder-like set of support boards.

Step 5

Move to the other side of the trellis support frame. Position one of the 1-inch-by-2-inch vertical support boards parallel to the posts, locating it approximately 4 inches from one of the posts. Make sure its ends are flush with the edges of the two horizontal 2-inch-by-4-inch supports before you secure it to them with nails. Repeat this process with the rest of the vertical support boards, locating them approximately 4 inches apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • 2 wooden stakes
  • Post hole digger
  • 9-foot-long 4-inch-by-4-inch cedar posts (2)
  • Level
  • Tamping rod
  • 4-foot-long 2-inch-by-4-inch cedar boards (2)
  • 1 1/2-inch galvanized nails
  • 4-foot-long 1-inch-by-2-inch horizontal support cedar boards (26)
  • 78-inch-long 1-inch-by-2-inch vertical support cedar boards (10)


  • "Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences;" Jim Long; 1998
  • This Old House: How to Build a Trellis
Keywords: backyard trellis, wooden trellis, making a trellis

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.