How to Make a Garden Arbor

Overview

Whether made with gathered saplings and limbs from a tree in your yard or made with stained and finished cedar or pine, an arbor serves a multitude of purposes. It provides a focal point for visual interest, it creates transition from one part of the garden to the next and it gives a gardener a base for climbing vines or roses. This arbor, with decorative top pieces, is made from pine, but any other softwood will work.

Build the Sides

Step 1

Cut four side posts from the 2-by-2 pine pieces, each 90 inches long.

Step 2

Cut two lattice panels, each 12 by 80 inches.

Step 3

Cut a groove, or dado, 1/2--inch wide and ¾-inch deep down the length of the side pieces. This groove will allow the lattice to sit inside the wood for a sturdy and finished effect.

Step 4

Apply glue to the dado groove on one of the support posts and insert a lattice panel in the groove with one end flush to the top. The legs of the support posts will remain at the opposite end of the panel with no lattice.

Step 5

Nail the panel into the side with 1 ¼-inch nails spaced about every 5 inches. Nail at a sharp angle for additional strength and holding power.

Step 6

Repeat the process for the other side of the panel and build the second side in the same way.

Cut the Top Pieces

Step 1

Cut two support beams from the 1-by-6 pine, each 48 inches long.

Step 2

Cut off one corner of each beam to create a decorative boat shape. The longer edge of the beam will be above the shorter lower edge when you nail the beam above the panels.

Step 3

Cut five top pieces from the 2-by-4 inch pine, each measuring 33 inches.

Step 4

Cut the corners from both ends of each top piece to match the angle you cut in the support beams.

Finish the Arbor

Step 1

Lay the two lattice panels on their sides, 34 inches apart.

Step 2

Place one support beam over the panel with the top edge flush with the ends of the panels. Apply glue and screw through the beam using three, 1 5/8-inch screws on each side.

Step 3

Repeat the process for the remaining beam.

Step 4

Install the arbor by placing the legs below ground until the lattice is at ground level.

Step 5

Place the five top pieces on top of the support beams, perpendicular and evenly spaced about 8 inches apart.

Step 6

Screw in the top pieces to the supports on an angle using 2-inch screws.

Step 7

Sand and paint the arbor if you would like or leave it to weather naturally.

Things You'll Need

  • Side posts, 32 feet of 2-inch by 2-inch, 32 feet
  • Saw
  • Dado saw
  • Lattice sheeting, 4-feet by 8-feet
  • Carpentry glue
  • Support beams, 1-inch by 6-inch, 10 feet
  • Top pieces, 2-inch by 4-inch, 15 feet
  • Measuring tape
  • 80 finish nails, 1 ¼-inch
  • 15 wood screws, 1 5/8-inch
  • 12 wood screws, 2-inch
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Wood stain (optional)

References

  • "2X4 Projects for Outdoor Living"; Steve Henderson and Mark Baldwin; 1999

Who Can Help

  • This Old House: How to Build a Shade Arbor
Keywords: build an arbor, make an arbor, make garden arbors

About this Author

A freelance writer with an extensive career in education, Susan Lundman taught writing and communication at the Military Academy at West Point, at military bases overseas and at community colleges in the United States. Working in a non-profit agency for 20 years, she wrote grant requests, promotional material, and operating guides. Lundman's expertise includes backpacking, dance, gardening and healthy living.