tools and materials for garden trellis

Step 1

The first step is deciding whether you’ll be staining or painting. If you’re staining, cedar is a great rot and bug resistant wood—and in the damp state of Washington it’s always a good choice. Wood choice isn’t quite as big of a factor to consider if you’re painting, but it's still worth keeping in mind. We actually carry cedar that has already been primed, which saves you a step!

Step 2

Once you have your materials, it’s time to paint. For our project we wanted the trellis to blend in, so we had a pint of paint mixed up at Sherwin-Williams to match the existing house color. You can lay out the 2x2s on some scrap lumber to paint them. Apply as many coats as necessary and allow at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before continuing with the rest of the project.

staining garden trellis

Step 3

Measure and cut the eight foot 2x2's to your desired length. You can use a hand saw or an electric chop saw for this step. To protect the cut end we applied Zevo’s End Cut Sealer. This is an easy solution that’s quick and doesn’t even require a brush to apply. We touched up the paint at the end to cover up any of the white that was showing.

sawing garden trellis

sealer for garden trellis

Step 4

The 4”x4” square metal grids come in various sizes, which you may need to cut down.  We ours cut so we ended up with a 30”x8’ piece, and you can size yours as you see fit.   

Lay down the ten foot 2x2 and line up the wire mesh along the side giving just enough room at the end for the top piece. Mark in the middle of the board with an awl or a pencil the position of each wire. This is more precise than marking every four inches and requires less manhandling of the wire. Believe me, there will be plenty already! Tape off your spade bit at ¾” and drill according to the measurements you’ve made.

measuring for garden trellis


Step 5

Now it’s time to fit the wiring into the first side. This is definitely a two person job. The wire panel tends not to be perfectly flat. Starting at one end begin to fit the wire into the holes. Use a rubber mallet to hammer in the wire and to prevent it from slipping back out as you work your way down the board. Continue until all the wire is in the holes. Pay attention to the longer pieces of wire and guide them into place before you deal with the shorter pieces. In areas that the wire had warped we used a scrap piece of 2x4 under the wire and knelt on top of it while we pushed the ends into the holes.

Repeat steps for measuring, drilling, and fitting together with the 2x2 for the opposite side. When all the ends of the wires are fitted in the holes you can turn the trellis on its side and use the rubber mallet to secure things.

wire panel for garden trellis

wire for garden trellis diy

Step 6

Grab a tape measure and compare the width of the trellis at the bottom and the top to make sure it’s even. Make any adjustments necessary with the rubber mallet. Measure and cut a piece for the end from the eight foot 2x2 that will fit in between the two side pieces. You can use a hand saw or an electric chop saw for this step. To protect the cut end we applied Zevo’s End Cut Sealer. This is an easy solution that’s quick and doesn’t even require a brush to apply. We touched up the paint at the end to cover up any of the white that was showing.

Just like you did for the sides, line up the wire along the end piece. This time don’t mark in the middle of the board because you’ll notice that these cross wires are laid on top (or on bottom) of the other ones. We laid the board alongside of the wire and marked exactly where the ends met the wood. Drill holes and fit together pieces as before. At one end the wires were bent up too much and wouldn’t go through the board at all. We solved this by bending the ends of the wire back into place with a vice grip.

For the end with longer sides, fit on the end piece and use it as a tool to mark the side pieces for cutting. Remove the end piece and cut the sides to length. Apply an end cut solution to protect the exposed wood. Replace the end piece.

measuring metal wire for trellis

Step 6

Line up the corners of the trellis one at a time and pre-drill through the side and into the end piece. Secure with a screw before lining up the next corner and drilling. For added strength and to minimize the chance of the joints loosening over time in the weather we added flat galvanized metal brackets. The galvanized metal withstands weather better than the more typical zinc-coated metal. Repeat steps on other end of trellis.

pre-drill garden trellis

pre-drilling garden trellis

Step 7

The trellis is now finished and it’s time to set it up! Decide on where you’ll be placing your trellis. We picked a spot near the side of the house. For added support we attached a crossbeam between the trellis and the house. If you decide to do this, now is the time to attach a bracket to the top of the trellis. It’s easier than when it’s up in the air. Place the trellis. Position the construction stakes and pound into the ground. Use a level to make sure that they’re straight. We used a scrap piece of 4x4 to rest the trellis on while we secured it to the stakes. This way the trellis is off the ground and less subject to decay. Level off the trellis before securing with screws.

crossbeam for garden trellis

level for garden trellis

Step 8

This next step is optional: If you’ll be attaching the trellis to the side of the house measure the distance between the house and trellis (make sure trellis is level). From the remaining part of the eight foot 2x2 cut a supporting beam. Apply end cut solution. Fit the piece in and level off. Mark where the beam meets the house and attach bracket. Fit the supporting piece back in and make sure that everything is level. Secure 2x2 to brackets.

Lastly, remove the scrap wood underneath the trellis and grab the paint and a brush and do some touch ups. This is a great time to use a disposable foam brush. Paint over any of the white end solution that’s still showing, and cover up any marks left from construction.

drill for garden trellis

foam brush paint garden trellis

Step 9

Now it’s time to plant and start training your vine. We planted a hardy fuchsia by our trellis. It’s a beautiful plant with deep pink and purple blossoms that attract hummingbirds. Positioned right next to a hummingbird feeder, we should be seeing a lot of these little birds this summer!

build your deck

humming bird on feeder

training fuchsia for garden trellis

watering fuchsia for trellis

fuchsia for trellis growing

1 Year later...

1 year fuchsia

how to build a garden trellis