I just love the way antique roses grow at the Botanical Gardens in San Antonio, Texas. Trained to an arbor or trellis, any caning or “vine” rose adds an air of formality and class to a planting.
Arbors and trellises are available at most DIY stores and online, but the price can be prohibitive and the designs are limited.
For less than a couple of hundred dollars, anyone can build their own trellis arbor and train roses or other vines to grow on it.
Select your site. Once this is built it will be difficult to move unless you plan to make it mobile to start with. Will you have plants in containers that can be moved, or in the ground as a permanent planting? If you plan to move someday, will the arbor come with you or stay?
These questions need to be answered before you start.
Now for the easy part. Sit down and decide what dimensions your arbor will be. You can make it as tall or as short, wide or narrow to suit your garden design.
For this design, this arbor will be 4 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 6 feet across. It will have a flat roof instead of a curved one. A curved roof looks beautiful, but requires far more work and if purchased, they aren’t cheap.
We’re still in the easy phase – listing materials. For this arbor, I’ll need: 4 bags of cement, 4- 4x4x10 pressure treated posts, 2 PVC or wood lattice panels, 1 box of galvanized 1″ wood screws, 1 box 1.5″ wood screws, 3- 1x6x8 pressure treated planks and 3- 10 foot pressure treated furring strips or 1×4 outdoor trim, 6 galvanized 3″ long lag bolts and washers, a level, 8- 2″ long galvanized wood screws and paint, stain or water seal.
The tools are easy to list, drill with appropriate bits, socket wrench for the lag bolts or appropriate hand wrench, post hole digger, shovel, wheelbarrow or bucket, saws to cut the wood, measuring equipment, marking string or paint, ladder if needed.
Now comes the fun part. Before I start digging, I like to set up my wood first- like prep in a kitchen.
For each of the 4×4’s, select the best face on each and mark 6″ down on each one. Cut a 1″ deep cut across the mark, and remove 1″ deep to the end. I find the fastest way is to cut several 1″ cuts, then use a chisel or turn the post and carefully support it while making a 2″ cut deep along a 1″ mark (stopping before going to far) on each side, then cleaning up with a chisel.
For each of the 1×6’s, I like to add a little flair to the ends. On the best face of the flat side, measure 1″ or 2″ down from each end and mark. This will be the top of the board. On the bottom side, mark 4-6″ in and make a diagonal line to connect to the top mark. Cut this so a decorative angle forms.
Note: if you’re not sure how it will look, cut a piece of cardboard first, then transfer to your wood. This saves money and time.
Cut 4 boards each of 1×6 so they are 1.5 feet long and the ends are cut at 45 degrees. These will support the corners of the boards.
For each of the trim strips, cut them in half. You can trim the edges for a diagonal look, but it is not necessary.
Mark the top of each 1×6 at 1- foot intervals. This is where the trim strips will be attached.
Dig your postholes 2 feet deep each. Depending on your soil, this will or won’t be an easy task. Do not fill with cement yet.
Take the top 1×6 boards and mark 1 foot in from each side. This is where the outside of the 4×4 will touch. The post will be inside this mark. With the posts flat on the ground, drill the holes and attach the 1×6’s to the posts. Use the 1.5 angled boards and attach to the inside of the top board and to the posts using the 2″ wood screws.
Mark 6″ from the end of each 5- foot long wood strip.
You will now have two sides to your arbor. Set them in the ground, but do not fill with cement yet.
Make sure the tops on each side are level before continuing.
Attach the wood strips to the tops at each 1-foot mark. The 1×6 should come just to the inside of each 6″ mark, leaving an overhang. Pre-drilling holes for the 1.5″ wood screws will keep the strips from splitting.
Periodically check for level and add dirt or rocks to the holes as needed. Get a helper if you need to. My favorite helper is a prybar and my foot moves rocks in. Slow, but sure.
Now attach the lattice to the outside of the arbor. The sides are 4 feet wide and so is the lattice. Special trim for the lattice can be purchased, or the lattice can be trimmed to fit inside the posts, but it isn’t necessary.
Check one more time for level. Once achieved, mix the cement according to the directions and fill the holes. Allow 24-48 hours to dry.
Using your favorite method, protect your new structure with paint, seal or stain. Plant your favorite roses or vines on either side of the lattice and attach using string or your favorite garden accessory.
On the other hand, you could just leave it as it is without the vines. Set a chair or bench inside and enjoy the quiet shade.