A bridge can finish the look of a garden and give it a romantic ambiance. Bridges can be purchased online, at home improvement stores or at nurseries, but the costs can be prohibitive. Instead, contemplate a do-it-yourself project. If you build a garden bridge to personal specifications, it will become an integral part of a garden that is as reflective of the gardener as the garden itself.
Measure exactly the area where you want to put the bridge. Consider using cedar so termites and other insects will not be attracted to the wood. For simplicity, these plans for flat and arched rail bridges are for finished bridges about 8 feet long and 3 feet wide. The bridge's length can easily be adapted.
Using deck screws, attach three 8-foot-long, 2-inch-by-8-inch planks to two 3-foot pieces of 2-inch-by-8-inch wood. Place one deck screw to secure the top of each 8-foot plank, and one to secure the bottom. The 8-foot planks should be attached on both ends and in the middle of the 3-foot pieces. Drill three pilot holes with a 5/32" bit, then secure the base by placing and tightening three lag screws and washers with a ratchet wrench. Remove the deck screws before taking the created box frame to the bridge location.
To create the side rails, use sixteen 2 ½-foot-by-2-inch-thick, 4-inch wide planks. Lay one of the planks on top of another, forming a 'T' to create the top handrail, then lay another piece about halfway down, creating a bottomless 'E' shape. Attach each piece with three deck screws. Repeat this step four times, making sure to reverse the arms of the 'E' twice so they can be joined to the center. On two of the finished 'E' shapes, attach both arms to another 2 ½-by-2-by-4 plank with deck screws, but leave enough space to attach two 44-inch-long, 2-inch-thick by 4-inch-wide planks on each side. Use the deck screws to attach the remaining pieces. Attach the side rails to the 8-foot-long side boards, using two deck screws per leg. Drill pilot holes first so the wood doesn't split.
Attach 3-foot pieces of 2-inch-by-8-inch wood, spacing them about 3/8-inch apart to create the footboards. The finished bridge can be painted, sealed, or left unfinished if was made with cedar.
Arched Rail Bridge
A flat bridge can also be completed by adding an arched lattice or premade panel handrail. Build the lattice rail by cutting four 2 1/2-foot-long-by-2-inch-thick by 8-inch-wide planks to a 22-degree angle, and two 4-foot-long by 2-inch-thick by 8-inch-wide planks to a 68-degree angle. With deck screws, secure the uncut ends of the 2 1/2-foot-long pieces to a 2 ¾-foot-by-2-inch-by-8-inch plank at an angle so the top of the 2 ¾-foot plank is flush with the top of the 2 ½ -foot plank. The angle-cut ends of the 2 1/2-foot and 4-foot planks should meet and be flush with the top of a 3¼ -foot-by-2-inch-by-8-inch plank, and attached with deck screws. Repeat the process about halfway down the leg planks. Cut the lattice or paneling to match the angles of the bridge, and attach with staples to the rails and legs. Attach each finished rail to the base with deck screws, and fill in with 3-foot-by-2-inch-by-8-inch footboards. Make sure to leave about 3/8-inch space between the footboards.