How to Build a Trellis

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated February 4, 2022
A backyard of a house with a wooden trellis
Photo: photokitchen / iStock / Getty Images

Whether for planting or privacy, you can spruce up your garden for just a few bucks

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Green beans, fruit trees, pea plants, and tomato plants all have one thing in common: they tend to thrive when given the space to grow vertically! Adding a trellis to your garden or garden bed can help you achieve just that goal and also give your backyard growing spaces a unique look—not to mention a little privacy, which never hurts, either.

Depending on materials, you can buy a wooden garden trellis at home improvement stores for between $30 and $80+. However, that’s way more than you’ll spend if you take a few hours to build them DIY.

Difficulty: 2/5 

Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to Complete: 1 to 2 hours

Tools and Materials:

  • 4–8 1x2 inch plywood boards 

  • Garden stakes

  • Saw

  • Power drill

  • Screws

  • Nails

  • Spool of cotton thread

Build a Trellis in 6 Easy Steps 

In this guide, learn how to build a DIY trellis that’s affordable, compostable, and easy to assemble in under two hours with the proper supplies.

1. Cut Your Wood to Proper Dimensions

This step-by-step guide for building a garden trellis is perfect for four-foot raised garden beds—perfect for flowering vines and fruits and vegetables.  Adjust your measurements accordingly if you have larger or smaller beds or simply would like to build a trellis using different dimensions.

Cut your plywood into 4’8” and 3’7” pieces, respectively. These will form the frame of your trellis.

2. Predrill Your Frame Pieces, Then Assemble

Use your power drill to drill starter holes into the corners of your frame. You’re working with plywood, which can be sort of fragile, so this will help prevent it from breaking during assembly.

Use a screw to secure your frame at all four corners. The final structure should be rectangular. If you’d like, you can cut corner support pieces with a fifth piece of plywood and add those for reinforcement.

3. Place Nails Halfway Into Your Frame On The Inside

Next, use small nails every 6 inches along the frame on each side. Only nail them in halfway, as you’re going to need the exposed nail in a later step to create the trellis.

This simple approach works differently than building an obelisk trellis, which uses pieces of wood at the base and corners.

4. Line Your Trellis With Cotton Thread

Weave your chosen thread around the nails on the outside of the frame. Start weaving horizontally, then once you reach the bottom switch to a vertical weave. You should then have about 70 squares in your trellis, but if yours is a little higher or lower, that’s fine.

If you’re using a string, aim to use one that doesn’t use polyester. This makes it recyclable. At the end of each season, you can simply cut the string and rethread it with next year’s crops.

Some homeowners prefer to use wood to line their trellis, especially if their trellis will be used as a privacy measure along fences so vines can grow. If that’s the case, you can use the same type of plywood for the frame. You can paint or stain it, too, if desired.

Another popular option is remesh, which is a thin, non-galvanized type of steel.

5. Attach Spikes to the Base, Then Dig a Hole

A flower covered white wooden trellis
Photo: krblokhin / iStock / Getty Images

To secure your trellis, take a trowel and dig two 6-inch holes in the garden bed, along the fence, or wherever it will lie. Make two 6-inch spikes out of leftover plywood by cutting the ends at an angle to form a point. Screw these onto the base.

Push the spikes into your holes in the garden and rearrange any existing plants or vines accordingly. (A local gardening pro can give you ideas if you’re still trying to decide what to grow.)

6. (Optional) Build a Second Trellis, Then Attach

If your DIY trellis is going in a garden or raised garden bed, you may want to make a second trellis to help with a row of plants behind it. This method is also useful because it allows the two trellises to freestand. Plus, it just looks cool.

Make a second trellis, then cut two pieces of plywood to the desired length. Fasten them together at the top with screws, then place all four corners of the trellis in your garden.

DIY Building a Trellis vs. Hiring a Pro

A homemade garden trellis is super simple and cheap to make if you’re just looking for something functional. However, there are hundreds of DIY trellis ideas out there for creative homeowners, many of which use expensive wood and, quite frankly, aren’t the easiest to put together or install.

Hiring a pro might make sense if you’re doing a total backyard remodel. An expert can give you options to help create the aesthetic you’re going for.

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