How to Build a Rustic Garden Trellis

Updated February 21, 2017

Rustic garden structures have long been associated with historical gardening. This may be because artwork dating from the Roman period and the middle ages shows garden structures such as wattle fencing that were made of bent twigs. Today, bentwood garden structures such as trellises may be found for a premium at craft fairs, garden centres and online through rustic garden art websites. But with a few rudimentary woodworking skills you can easily create your own rustic garden trellis.

Collect branches for your project from your garden pruning projects. Other good sources for trellis material include limbs from tree-trimming companies, pruned grape vines from orchards, fallen limbs around your neighbourhood and woodland deadfall. Some ideal wood for trellises include pecan, ash and alder. Willow and grapevine are springy and can be used to decorate the trellis but should not be used in support elements.

Inspect the wood. Wood that has been sitting for more than a few days may be infested with fungus and insects. Only use healthy, green wood.

Draw your trellis shape to scale using graph paper and a pencil. Work out the design and measurements before you build your trellis. One easy design to make is a fan-shaped trellis.

Measure seven, 1-inch diameter branches and mark them at 5-foot lengths with chalk. Cut the branches to the correct length with pruning shears. Mark another 1-inch diameter branch and cut it into a 24-inch piece.

Lay five of the 5-foot branches next to one another on a flat surface so the ends of each branch are even with one another. These branches will make up the main supports of your fan-shaped trellis. Place the 24-inch piece of branch across the bottom of the 5-foot branches 6 inches from their ends. This will form a crosspiece brace.

Place the drill bit in the electric drill. Drill a hole through the 24-inch crosspiece over each support branch. Replace the drill bit with a Phillips screwdriver head bit. Drill a wood screw through each hole in the crosspiece and into the brace. Spread the supports out into a fan shape.

Place a 5-foot branch across the top of the fan-shaped trellis supports to form the top cross-brace. Bend the wood so that it touches each support and helps to reinforce the fan shape. Drill a hole through the top cross-brace piece where it touches the support. Then screw a wood screw through the cross-brace and into the support.

Lay the last 5-foot piece across the middle of the upright supports. Drill pilot holes through the cross-brace. Attach it to the support sticks with screws. Trim the cross-braces to the correct size with pruning shears.


Always ask permission from landowners before collecting sticks or clearing trees from their property. If you see city employees working on wooded roadsides, national forests or public land, you can ask their permission to take sticks that they clear away. Ask your state and national Forest Service what their policies are concerning wood collection.

Things You'll Need

  • Branches
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • Pruning shears
  • Drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Wood screws
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About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.