Stacking Functions Garden

How to: inexpensive garden trellis


We made a trellis for the garden last fall, but my post about it was rather light on details. We built 3 more of them during our spring break, so here are detailed building and installation instructions.

Materials for 1 straight trellis:
Three 2 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. pieces of cedar
Welded wire fencing (like this or this), 4 ft. x 6-7 ft. (we bought a whole roll)
Two 3 in. pieces of copper tubing
Two 6 in. heavy duty wood screws (like these)

Materials for 1 corner trellis:
Above materials, plus one more cedar 2x2x8

For the straight trellis, cut one of the pieces of cedar into two 44 in. lengths. Using a power miter box (chop saw) cut a 45 degree angle into the bottom of each of the other two 8 ft. pieces (to make them pointy at the bottom). Lay out your pieces like this:

Fasten the pieces together with standard decking screws:

Next, roll out your fencing and cut to size with a wire snips:

Staple the fencing to the cedar posts:

Finished straight trellis:

(see the pointy bottoms?)  Now for the corner trellis variation:

For this, you have three 8 ft. pieces and four 21 in. pieces. Lay it out and fasten the outside corners with the decking screws, but only fasten one side to the center piece.  It’s much easier to staple the fence on when the structure can be laid out flat on the ground.

After you’ve stapled on the fencing, flip the whole thing over and fold it up.  Fasten the final screws and you’re done building.  We had to then store these in the garage for two more weeks while we waited for the snow to melt.  Today we finally installed them!

Pound them into the ground about six inches with a mallet, about 4 inches from the foundation.

Make sure they fit in the spot where you want them because this is a permanent installation!  Attach them to the house using the copper tubing and 6 in. screws, like this:

The copper tube protects the screw and makes things look a little nicer.

Total cost for the straight trellis: around $30. Corner trellis, about $36, depending on the price of cedar. Please, use cedar if you plan to grow edibles on these!  It’s significantly more expensive than green-treated, yes, but you don’t want any chemicals leaching into your vegetable garden.  I’m not 100% anti-green-treated lumber — can’t afford to be — but where edibles are concerned it’s worth it.

So, so jazzed about these trellises. I plan to plant cucumbers, two different varieties of pole beans (including Christmas Lima Beans!) and hops on them. Yay!  Questions? Bonus points to anyone who guesses correctly how many drills Adam actually owns.

28 thoughts on “How to: inexpensive garden trellis

  1. I’ll guess four drills. I see two in these pictures.
    I think I have six, but two are probably ready to be thrown away. Two were purchased in the last five months: one when I went to the store to get one cordless and saw how expensive they were so I got a real cheap one and committed to figure out what battery size my cordless had, and just replace that. Then once I was out to get just the battery, I noticed that the current version of the same drill was on sale for $5 more than the battery pack.

    I have a hammer drill that I ruined a few years back, but I wonder if my dad can fix the trigger.

    • This just in: Adam *thinks* he has five, but he’s not totally sure. And he wants a new cordless for his birthday, which would mean at least 6.

  2. looks great! i was planning on building something similar– do you think that zukes/melons would be able to climb on something straight up like that? i was hoping to just attach some chicken wire/netting to our existing almost solid fence, but i wasn’t sure if it needed to be at an angle, or if totally vertical would hold it. thanks!

    • Hey Julia! I have never personally grown melons on a trellis, but friends of mine had luck as long as they added extra support when the melons started to get more than, say golf ball size. One friend of mine actually used nylons that she stapled/tied onto her trellis just to hold most of the weight of the melon. And apparently it worked. Within reason, of course — I wouldn’t try it with watermelons!

      As far zucchinis go, are there zukes that grow in a vine habit? Whenever I’ve grown them they’ve been real bushy and not conducive to climbing up anything.

      I love growing cucumbers on trellis though, it really saves you a ton of space and helps prevent some of the fungal problems they can be susceptible to. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for sharing! Making one of these for my yard. Question: Is there a reason you mount these to the wall with the stapled side facing out? Thank you, Mike

    • I think you could go with the stapled side on the inside—but if a staple came loose it would be much harder to make repairs if it was facing the wall, yes? Also they really need to be mounted or they will not be sturdy enough to support heavy vines, especially if you get wind. Hope that helps!

  4. Anyone know where to purchase 2×2 cedar boards like that? I’ve been looking locally and can’t find any.

    • Hi Brooke! I don’t know where you’re writing from; my local Home Depot (in Richfield, MN) still sells 2″x2″x8′ cedar boards to this day. (This post is 7 years old but I double checked.)

      By the way, these trellises are still going strong 7 years later.

  5. I love your step by step post! About to plant some Apple Blossom Clematis and I think I will build something like this. I am wondering if you have had any problem with your cedar posts rotting out in the ground? I am assuming that the purpose of the pointy ends is so you hammer these into the ground before screwing it to the house? Thanks!

    • Hi Eric! We haven’t had any rotting yet and the trellises are now 7 years old. You are correct–we hammered them into the ground at least a foot.

  6. Love this and would love to see some pics of stuff growing on these!!!!!

  7. Hello, thank you for your very informative post. My husband built 5 of these trellises for me. If you don’t mind, I would like to link to you in a blog post about the flowers I will have climbing them, namely, Clematis, Climbing Eden rose, and Sweet Peas.

    My blog is and my IG is @newportfarmstead


  8. Hi — just want to leave a note of appreciation from New Jersey. We built this trellis for two climbing roses and we love how sturdy it is. Great tutorial! Will be using it again & again as we work on making our yard ours.

  9. Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for this information. I am going to try to make these soon. I just have one question…what do you use the copper tubing for?

  10. Can these be free-standing away from the house? Thank you!

    • Hi Anna, These would not work as free-standing trellises. For something to be freestanding it ought to have 3 or 4 sides. For a quick, economical freestanding trellis I like to buy 8 foot bamboo canes, then take three of them and stick them in the ground at least a foot or two (as far as you can), about 3 feet apart from each other. Then tie them together at the top, like a teepee. This makes an acceptable temporary small trellis, but you may have to wind twine around the poles to get certain plants to climb up them.

      For something more permanent like this, it either needs to be 3D, or sunk into concrete like you would with a fence post. Hope this helps.

      • Yes, there’s a way to make them free standing. Use unistrut. Pound two 24” pieces into the ground then drop the trellis down into it. I believe you’ll need 1 3/4” unistrut. But whatever fits tight.

  11. Email me and I’ll forward photos on how I use unistrut to make the trellis freestanding.

    • I still don’t know how confident I am of this unistrut plan for a trellis with these dimension–if it had heavy vines climbing up it and it got really windy it might not be able to withstand that. I’m thinking of severe weather events, in particular. If I was making a free-standing trellis of these dimensions and I wanted it to be permanent, I would use 4″x4″ posts and sink them into concrete and/or make it more 3D–supported by 3 or 4 posts instead of 2. BUT! Sometimes it’s really nice to experiment with less permanent installations until you find something you really like, in which case the unistrut idea would probably be worthwhile.

  12. I love what you did with the copper tubing for proper spacing and aesthetics.

  13. Lovely trellis, easy to follow instructions… would these support muscadine/ Scuppernong grape vines?

    • I’m not sure I would plant a grapevine on these. Grape vines get SO big and heavy; I think you’d run out of space pretty quickly. I suppose you could build several of them in a row and prune the grapevine along it–that could work. I would rather grow grapes on something sturdier and freestanding though, like a chain-link fence or a large arbor. (I grow my grapes on an arbor over my deck.) One reason is that grapes also need good air flow and up against a building like this would not provide the best air flow.

      Otherwise if you’re looking to maximize production, look up how vineyards prune and train their grapes–it’s quite the system! Hope this helps–thanks for reading!

  14. I’m wondering if the trellis is stable enough not to be fastened to the house. Could I lengthen the “legs” and spike them in the ground for a little privacy between neighbors?

    • They would have to go in the ground quite a ways to be stable enough to stand on their own like that. If I was going to try that I’d actually get metal stakes that could go far into the ground, and attach these to the metal stakes with zip ties or something similar. Even so, they may not stand up to a high wind.

      Also, wood rots. I’ve had my trellises up for a long time (I wrote this post in 2010!) and the wood that was originally in the ground is now completely rotted away. They’re still functional though because of being attached to the house.

      You could try it if you like–but manage your expectations about how sturdy they’ll be and how long they’ll last. The best way to create a privacy fence is to sink your fence posts into concrete, and you have to dig your holes down quite far. There are many DIY tutorials on how to properly place fence posts. Good luck!

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