Build a Garden Trellis – Love it When Practical Meets Whimsy

When you build a garden trellis, your main purpose is to create something practical that will hold up your vegetables, keep them off the ground and allow for easier harvest. That is a practical and necessary way of thinking, so most people pull a few strings between posts, use field fencing, or even purchase ready-made trellises to make it easy.

When you look at the garden, you see a beautiful, lush garden full of greenery and a few yellow, white or purple blossoms. Later in the year, more color is added through the red of the tomatoes, the yellow of the squash and the orange, purple and red of peppers. You look at all this beauty, and a small smile of satisfaction comes to your face and heart.

But I am not one who wants to stop at a small smile. I want my smile to stretch from ear to ear, and listen to a laugh of delight escape. I get the practical aspect of a garden trellis. But I am definitely not a practical gal.

Because of that, this year I decided to add a bit of whimsy and fun to my garden. I wanted to build a garden trellis that would make me smile every time I looked at my garden. When dealing with the incessant weeds, I wanted a way to take a break, look up, and smile all over again.

With that in mind, I went to the drawing board and designed this simple garden trellis system. Using lumber and scraps we already had on hand, the Country Boy took my design and broke it down into measurements, pieces and added the practical side to a piece of whimsical garden art.

Now I have a fun way to contain my vining plants, and if I choose to make more, I can also use this same trellis/string design to hold up my heavier tomato and pepper plants without having to use stakes or cages!

Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay!

How to Build a Garden Trellis

These plans will allow you to build two trellises:

build a garden trellis


  • 1 – 2” x 4” x 8’ treated board (posts)
  • 1 – 1” x 4” x 12” treated board (caps)
  • 1- 2” x 4” x 14 treated board (slats)
  • 1 – 3/8” Dowel Rod
  • Table Saw
  • Drill & 3/8″ Drill Bit
  • Small Nails and hammer – or- staples & staple gun
  • Sandpaper –1 piece of 120, 1 piece of 220
  • Paint (you can use latex or oil based in any color you choose!)
  • Gorilla Glue or other type of glue
  • Ornament (my birds came from Dollar General for $1.00 each!)

Directions to Build a Garden Trellis

build a garden trellis

Cut the 2” x 4” x 8’ treated board in half, lengthwise. Determine your preferred height of your trellis. Add at least 18” to 20” – which is the length that will be buried in the ground. My post measures 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 66” (5’6”). This allows for the 18” to 20” that will be in the ground, and still allow the top of the trellis to rise above the garden plants once they are fully mature. Drill a 3/8” hole in one end of both stakes.

build a garden trellis

To make it easier to pound the stake in the ground, the Country Boy cut a tapered point at one end of each trellis. This isn’t required, but honestly makes it easier to penetrate the ground.

build a garden trellis

Cut the 1” x 4” x 12” treated board into 2 3-1/2” squares (see the note above on wood sizes).  Drill a 3/8” hole in the direct center of your squares.

Cut your 2” x 4” x 14” board into 5/16” slats. To do this, lay your board flat on the table saw. Set it to cut 5/16” slats that will measure 1/2″ x 5/16”. You should be able to cut at least 6 slats out of 1 board, if not more.

build a garden trellis

Using a piece of 120 sandpaper, sand all edges of your stake, cap and slats until all rough edges are removed. Change to a piece of 220, and sand until the wood is smooth. With a dry, or barely damp cloth, wipe down all the pieces to remove any residual dust. If you use even a barely damp cloth, set the boards aside to completely dry for at least 15 to 30 minutes.)

Paint each of the pieces in the paint and color you choose. (I prefer Latex paint, mainly because of the ease with the cleanup. But exterior oil-based paint will last a bit longer.) Set aside to dry thoroughly (at least an hour or more, depending on the temperature). Add a second coat, and allow to dry completely.

To Assemble Your Trellis

Cut two 1-3/4” pieces from your dowel rod. Using a hammer, tap a dowel rod piece into the center hole of your cap. Repeat with the second cap.

Glue your ornamentation in place. I used ceramic birds I found at Dollar General, but you can use anything you choose. Just be sure to make sure the size fits proportionately to the cap and trellis – and make certain it will be something that makes you smile each time you see it!

Set the caps aside to allow the glue to dry. I found that setting up two boards deep enough to slip the dowel rod between them keeps it level, and prevents the ornament from slipping until it is completely dry and set in place.

While your ornament is drying, place your slats in place. Measure 12” from the top of the stake to the top of the first slat.  Center the slat and nail or staple into place.  (I have found that one of the best investments we have made where tools are concerned is to have an electric or air powered staple gun. It makes smaller projects like these quicker and easier!)

Measure 12” from the top of the first slat to the middle of the second slat. Center on your stake and nail or staple into place.

Measure 12” from the top of the center slat to the top of the 3 slat. Center the slat on the stake and nail or staple into place.

At this point, you need to check your trellises and see if any touch-up painting is needed. If so, allow the paint to completely dry.  Do NOT put the cap into place yet!

build a garden trellis

Installing your Trellises

Now that your trellis is completely finished, it is time to put them in the garden. The trellises should be placed between 3” and 5” apart, depending on what you will be growing on them. If you plan for a full 30’ row of beans or cucumbers, you will need to make at least 6 trellises, and space them 5’ apart. If you are only growing a few snap beans, you can get away with 3’ to 5’ apart. (Just remember – the heavier the vines and fruits, the more trellises you will need!)

Using a hammer, pound the stakes to a minimum of 18” in the ground – a few more inches, if necessary. Once the stakes are in the ground, add your ornamental cap. Repeat with the next trellis.

Once your trellises are in place, use garden string or twine. Start at the bottom slat of one trellis, and secure the string with a knot – approximately 1” to 2” from the end. Pull the string to the bottom slat of the next trellis, and loop the string around a couple of time, again 1” to 2” from the end. Wrap the string around the back of the trellis, and loop it around the other side of the slat. Pull it back to the first trellis, and repeat this process until the string ends at the top slat of the first trellis.  Secure with a knot and cut off excess string.

If you choose to build a garden trellis to hold up heavy plants such as tomatoes and peppers, your stringing process will be a little different. Once your tomatoes or peppers reach slightly above the bottom slat, start the twine at the bottom as directed above, and complete one loop from trellis to trellis. Secure and cut the twine. As the plants grow to reach the second slat, repeat the process. Repeat it again when (and if) they reach the top slat.

With tomatoes, peppers and other tall, heavy plants, you may want to build a garden trellis with a fourth slat that will be closer to ground level, approximately 12” to 18” from the ground (this would make it approximately 30” from the bottom point of your trellis).

build a garden trellis

You are ready to plant!

Once you build a garden trellis and they are in place and strung, just plant a few seeds or plants underneath and let them grow. As the vines lengthen, train them to the lowest string or twine. Once they have a good start, they will usually train themselves, with just a little help and encouragement from you.

To build a garden trellis is to take another step towards making your gardening days a bit happier and more joyful. If you get frustrated with weeds in your garden, you can just look up and smile at the fun you created with your own hands.

And when folks come to visit – beware!  Once they see your trellises, more than likely they are going to want you to build a garden trellis for them!  How do I know this? I just finished six trellises for my own garden, and before the paint was even dry, they got claimed by three of my gardening friends!

Looks like I will be pilfering through the barn for more lumber and paint because I now need to build a garden trellis for my own garden!

Oh! And here’s a note: Did you have some ‘drops’ when you cut the stakes, or extra slats? Hang on to them for the next creative post – How to Make Garden and Row Markers!

Don’t Miss these other Gardening Posts!

The Shaker Garden

Vegetables in a Shaker Garden

Herbs in a Shaker Garden

How to Make Seed Packets

Add Fun and Whimsy to Your Garden with a Scarecrow

How to Build a Seed Tray

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. CONGRATS! Your post is FEATURED at A Themed Linkup 51 for Handmade Cards from my previous linkup for Vegetable Gardening!

  2. Awesome tutorial! Interesting “did you know” about the actual size of boards and no, I did not know that. Thanks so much for linking up with me at A Themed Linkup 50 for Vegetable Gardening. Pinned!

  3. Thanks Julie for another easy to follow tutorial and for your helpful tips. I’ve pinned these.

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