How to Make a Basic DIY Obelisk Trellis

Tall DIY wooden obelisk trellis with planted pots hanging and surrounding fixture

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Skill Level: Beginner

This DIY obelisk garden trellis is so versatile, it can be used for all sorts of plants that love to climb and trail. You can use it as a tomato cage or as a general support for any type of plant. At the top is space for a lightweight planting pot, too.

Because the trellis is 6 feet tall, you'll have plenty of vertical room for draping vines or spiller or trailing plants like wisteria, honeysuckle, snapdragons, or jasmine. Plants like roses that grow upward will be eager to climb the trellis, too.

How You'll Build This DIY Trellis

Though this garden obelisk trellis has a fair number of pieces, it's actually an easy build. First, you create one side of the trellis—a ladder shape with two legs and five rungs. Once that's done, duplicate the ladder shape for the opposite side.

Connect the two ladders with five more rungs per side and you're done with the build.

What makes this project so easy is that there are no complicated angles to cut: Each piece of wood is square-cut.

You can build this obelisk DIY garden trellis in about an hour. Once you build one trellis, you've created a pattern that can be used to make more trellises.

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Click Play to Learn How to DIY a Garden Obelisk

Tip

If you expect the garden trellis to be heavily covered by plants, you can save money by purchasing less expensive wood such as whitewood furring strips or pressure-treated lumber. Both species are about half the price of Douglas Fir two-by-twos.

Safety Considerations

Because the wood pieces are best cut on an electric saw, observe all safety recommendations that come with the saw.

Once the trellis is complete, be aware of tipping concerns. Though the base of the obelisk is broad, the top can still become heavy, especially if you place a planting pot at the top.

If you wish to use a pot, choose a lightweight resin, rubber, or metal pot rather than a heavy terracotta or stone-like pot. Be careful after watering, as this makes the pot heavier. If the trellis appears to be top-heavy, secure it to the ground at its base.

Materials and tools to build a DIY obelisk trellis

The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Electric miter saw or circular saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bits and drivers
  • Paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure

Materials

  • 8 two-by-two lumber, each 8-foot
  • Wood glue
  • Paint or stain
  • 1 box 3-inch exterior screws

Instructions

  1. Cut Wood

    Cut the 8 pieces of lumber to the below lengths, for a total of 24 cut pieces of wood at the end.

     Quantity  Length
    4 72 inches
    2 27 inches
    2 24 inches
    2 22-3/4 inches
    2 19-3/4 inches
    2 18-5/9 inches
    2 15-5/8 inches
    2 14-5/8 inches
    2 11-5/8 inches
    2 11 inches
    2 8 inches
    Pieces of wood cut in various sizes and laid on grass

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  2. Mark Bottom Rung of First Ladder

    To build the first ladder, lay two of the 72-inch pieces on a flat table or surface. Measure up and mark 6 inches from the bottom as the placement point for the bottom 24-inch rung. Place a 24-inch cut piece across the two 72-inch pieces as the first rung.

    Bottom rung of trellis marked with pencil and measuring tape

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  3. Angle Legs

    With the bottom rung still in place, angle the tops of the legs toward each other. The top-left corner of the bottom rung should be flush with the outer edges of the legs.

    Wooden pieces secured on table and angled toward each other

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  4. Fasten Bottom Rung

    Pre-drill a hole for the screw, then fasten the bottom rung in place. Use only one screw per attachment point to allow the wood pieces to be adjusted.

    Tip

    Pre-drilling is an important step for this project. The 2x2 lumber will likely split if a hole is not pre-drilled to accept the screw. Splitting will result in a poor connection and possible safety concern. To pre-drill, simply drill a hole using a drill bit slightly smaller than the fastening screw. Drill to at least the full depth of the fastener.

    Bottom rung of trellis fastened with electric drill

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  5. Fasten Top Rung

    Fasten the top 8-inch rung at the very top of the legs. Again, the top corners of the rung should line up with the edges of the legs.

    Top rung fastened with electric drill to angled wooden pieces secured on table

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  6. Check Square

    The top and bottom rungs of the ladder should be parallel. Check this with the tape measure. Adjust the legs as needed.

    Bottom rung checked with measuring tape to top rung of trellis

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  7. Dry-Fit Middle Rungs

    Dry-fit the three middle rungs, spacing them evenly between the top and bottom rungs. Starting at the top and progressing downward, mark the positions with the pencil. Lay the following cuts across the two 72-inch pieces as the middle rungs, starting with the shorter piece below the 8-inch piece and moving down.

    • 11 5/8-inch piece
    • 15 5/8-inch piece
    • 19 3/4-inch piece
    Middle rungs dry-fitted to trellis on work table

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  8. Fasten Middle Rungs

    When you are satisfied with the look of the first ladder, add a dot of wood glue to each attachment point. Attach the pieces with the 3-inch screws.

    Middle rungs on trellis fastened with electric drill

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  9. Build Second Ladder

    Duplicate the previous steps to make the second ladder.

    Tip

    Lay the pieces for the second ladder on top of the first ladder to perfectly match leg angles and rung spacing.

    Duplicate sides of fastened trellis stacked on each other next to electric drill and wooden pieces

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  10. Attach Ladders on One Side

    Position the ladders on their sides. Attach the remaining rungs so they connect the two ladders and overlap the ends of the ladder rungs. These should be at the same levels as the ladder rungs. Starting at the top and progressing downward, place the pieces in the below order:

    • 11-inch piece
    • 14 5/8-inch piece
    • 18 5/8-inch piece
    • 22 3/4 inch piece
    • 27 inch piece
    Open sides of trellis fastened with small pieces to create obelisk shape

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  11. Attach Ladders on Other Side

    Turn the trellis over and attach the final set of rungs to the last open side, from top to bottom in the below order:

    • 11-inch piece
    • 14 5/8-inch piece
    • 18 5/8-inch piece
    • 22 3/4 inch piece
    • 27 inch piece
    Open sides on opposite end of trellis secured with yellow electric drill

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

  12. Finish Trellis

    Stain or paint the trellis as desired. For a rustic look, leave the wood to weather on its own. Cedar is one type of wood species that naturally weathers to a silvery-gray color. Whitewood should be painted or stained and coated. Pressure-treated wood can be painted, if you wish, or you can leave it as-is.

  13. Add Plants

    The space at top will accommodate a 10-inch diameter planting pot. For smaller pots, nail or screw spacer wood blocks.