Build a Trellis and Privacy Screen

2 Materials
2 Hours

When you live in a suburban neighbourhood, where the houses are packed in like sardines, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of privacy. If you build a trellis this spring, you could have a lush, green look - and more privacy - by summer!

When we decided to landscape our front and back yards we searched high and low for perfectly sized privacy screens and trellises - to no avail. The solution? Build our own! Like I always advise when doing something you've never attempted, start small first! Get all your frustration - I mean trial and error of course - out on something that's manageable in terms of time, effort, money and scale. THEN, you can reach for the sky and go BIG! The original trellis that came with the house was skimpy and undersized. The new trellis is taller and wider; our clematis is much happier to have space to spread!

Start small and work your way up!

Doing it yourself has many advantages: you can design whatever your heart desires, build it to the size you want, in the wood you want and pick your own finishes! For our projects, we went with straight up cedar for its beauty and durability in the great outdoors. We had several areas we felt could use a screen or trellis. As you can see by the pictures below, one of our trellis projects was by the little pond near our front door. When we finished building our new trellis, this is what the entry to our house looked like:

The clematis took it it's new support system right away and has flourished ever since! We still have to 'train' it in the spring once it starts to sprout up, but other than that, it's on its own. Here's what it looks like in late spring and early summer:

Another problem area was right by our front door; we had a less than pleasant view of our neighbour's garbage bins - ugh. That view went from unsightly to pretty...

.... once the trellis was in place and the vines took hold.

Hubs built a planter box that we placed on the porch in back of the trellis so the vines can grow through the lattice and also be viewed from the street. In the winter, we swap it out for another screen that's fitted out with outdoor fabric in the centre instead so it completely blocks our view - and acts as a wind screen too!

Once we got our feet wet with a few smaller projects, we were ready for the big time - the big Kahuna of all trellises. After we finished landscaping our backyard, we wanted a HUGE trellis on which to grow vines that would provide us with a sense of privacy and coziness in the back. This is the vision we had in mind:

The trellis had to be extremely large to give us privacy and be able to support a fast-growing vine. Our trellis was built to about 10 feet wide and 8 feet long and perfectly supports and frames our Silver Lace Vine. Not only does it look gorgeous when the vines are fully grown in the summer (when you can't even see the trellis), but it gives us something interesting too look at in the spring too. The plan was drawn up in powerepoint (visit my link at Birdz of a Feather to see the plan). Since the screen was so big and we needed a flat surface to arrange and build on, we put a sheet of plastic down in the garage so we could build away from the elements. Referring to the plan, it was just a matter of cutting all the pieces to size on a chop saw.

Working on the big Kahuna of all trellises

We kept the construction simple. We used a pin nailer with dabs of PL construction adhesive (which we had on-hand) to secure everything together. For the X's, we mitred the ends so they would fit nicely into the square shapes and then glued and pinned them in on all sides. You'll need to decide which pieces you want to lay 'in front' and which pieces can fall to the back because it's just a matter of deciding how you want it to look. By laying it all out on the floor first you can finalize the order of how you want to put it all together. Some sections we built like ladders, and longer pieces ended up bridging the width of the whole screen to make it more secure. My best advice would be to continue to learn through trial and error (building on what you learned on your smaller practice piece).

Assembly of 'sticks' and ladders

Securing it to the fence

We could have gone two routes with a trellis this size - attach the whole thing to large posts, dig out for the posts and secure it in the ground with concrete (like a fence post) or have it 'floating' on the fence and propped up on top of a few rectangular stones. We went with the latter choice. Head to our blog to see the details on how we secured it (link at the end of this post).

Here's a picture of how our Silver Lace has evolved on the trellis over time. It makes a fantastic lush green privacy screen.

Our next project was building a privacy screen for my husband so he wouldn't be staring into our neighbour's yard between the gaps in the fence every time he barbecued. We used the same principles to build the privacy screen as we did for the winter screen by our front door, except we used bamboo instead of fabric on the majority of it. We built our frame, then staple gunned a roll of bamboo onto the middle section of the frame and used fabric in the top section. This particular screen is supported by 'L' brackets.

Because the BBQ screen is smaller than the trellis (and our Canadian winters can be brutal!), we remove it every winter and store it on hooks on a wall in our garage. It keeps the fabric, bamboo and wood from aging faster than they normally would outside. There are so many uses for these trellises and screens and dozens of opportunities to switch them up.

There are a few more examples to see (and a drawing of the plan to build the large trellis) if you visit our blog (link at the end of this post). You'll also see the amazing transformation of our backyard on the blog if you search for 'How Does Your Garden Grow' - posted in March 2016). For more ideas on how to decorate a small garden while you're there, try searching 'mirror mirror' and 'creative planter ideas' in the search bar on our site :)

Here's a final before and after of the large scale trellis.

I hope we've given you a few ideas to inspire you to think about trellises and privacy screens as your next DIY project this Spring ... now go build one for yourself and let us know how you get on by leaving us a comment below!

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To see other inspiring garden ideas, click the link under this post where you see our logo and come visit our garden category :)

Suggested materials:

  • Cedar  (Big box store)
  • Silverlace Vine  (Nursery)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 9 questions
  • C Crow
    on May 21, 2017

    May I ask how you created the "0" on the X and 0 trellis? Couldn't find that info on your blog. Love all your trellises and your yardd!
  • Jamie
    on May 24, 2017

    Gm, I painted my bathroom floor of course with help from hardware store, ummmm I accidentally did it backwards with paint n primer lol but we basically just went back over it, question it really eats dirty fast , I didn't glaze it or anything any suggestions please. Jamie D Woodstock, n.y
  • BabyFe Cacdac
    on Feb 15, 2019

    Actually, the house that I am renting is sandwiched by two houses that have Chain Link Fences. Therefore, these fences are theirs. I get annoyed every weekend because they clean their rugs, carpets, vehicle carpets, towels, etc, etc, and hang them on the fences. Sometimes they forget to remove them and they stay there for days, even weeks. I want to put privacy fence on both sides or whatever I can put to save my sanity looking at their rugs every time.... but since this is not my house, I don't want to spend too much for it. What is your suggestion?

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