Providing Privacy and Plants with a Trellis Planter: POP Projects is a collection of new and classic projects from over a century of Popular Mechanics. Master skills, get tool recommendations, and most importantly, build something yourself. I have always loved the idea of a large garden full of colorful flowers and luscious vegetables. But it’s always a lot of work. Avid gardeners tell me I’m missing the point, but I don’t think spending weeks on my hands and knees weeding bushes and removing bugs is fun.
Then I discovered container gardening, the popular practice of planting plants in pots, trays, window boxes, and other portable containers. What appeals to me and millions of others is that it requires very little space and minimal time. Plus, you’ll never get mud in your shoes or shorts (don’t ask).
These planter trellises are my favorite container gardening project. While it’s designed to climb vines like clematis, nasturtiums, pool beans, or Boston ivy, it also makes an attractive privacy screen for a deck and can hide a pool pump or propane tank. You can make it out of pressure-treated wood, but we chose red cedar. This wood is easy to work with, and it takes stains beautifully. It should last for many years with very little maintenance, so you can spend more time gardening and less time maintaining. Here’s how to make it.
Create a Box
Start by cross-cutting the 1×4 tongue and groove cedar used for the planter box. I made gang cuts using a compound miter saw with a fence stop . This method ensures that all parts are accurately cut to the same dimensions. Due to the lack of a miter saw, you can carefully measure, mark, and cut parts freehand with a circular saw using a crosscut guide. I also cross the cleats that the planter rests on and the horizontal trims that the tongue and groove pieces are nailed to.
Use exterior-grade glue and 1¼-inch finish nails to attach the planter box panels. Fasten the tongue and groove pieces to the horizontal trim using a pneumatic finish nailer . Place the rough sawn surface of the tongue and groove pieces so that they face the outside of the planter box and nail the faces into the trim from the back of each piece. If you don’t have pneumatic tools, use glue and 3D hot-dipped galvanized finish nails.
Next, attach the cleats to the front and back panels using 2½-inch decking screws . Note that the bottom of the cleats is not flush with the bottom of the panels but is 1 inch.
Once the panels are complete, assemble the planter box by attaching the panels. Drill pilot holes, then drive 2½-inch trim-head screws from the front into the side panels . Do the same to attach the back to the sides. Once the box is built, lay the bottom slats and fasten them to the cleats with 1¼-inch nails.
The planter box rim consists of four 1×3 pieces attached with pocket screws. Cut the pieces, drill holes in them, and attach the pieces with 1¼-inch thick-threaded pocket screws. Place the completed rim on the box with an even overhang. Fasten the edge to the top of the box with 2½-inch pneumatic nails or 8d galvanized finish nails .
Creating a lattice frame is easy, but you should remember that the frame groove is handled in three different ways. In the top horizontal frame member, the groove is stopped at both ends. In the bottom horizontal member, the groove runs out from both ends. In two vertical frame members, the groove exits at the top and stops at the point where this part meets the horizontal frame member.
Cross-cut the frame members, and cut the grooves into pieces using the dado blade in the table saw . To cut a stopped groove, make a registration mark on the side of the workpiece that indicates where the groove stops. Similarly, mark the diameter of the saw blade on the saw table with the dado blade raised to the depth of the groove (position of front tooth and back tooth). Stop cutting the groove when the registration marks are aligned.
If you have experience with a table saw, you can start a stop groove by carefully turning the workpiece down on the edge of the fence and the dado blade (known as a plunge cut). If the idea bothers you, align the registration marks and lift the blade into the workpiece. Square off the end of the stop groove using a chisel.
With the frame parts grooved, attach the side and bottom pieces using 2½-inch trim-head screws. Cut the mesh to length using a fine-toothed metal cutting blade in a jigsaw. This reduces the chances of one of the meshes breaking or tearing. Insert the mesh into the groove and fasten the crossbar . Attach the cap over the mesh frame. Finally, screw the lattice assembly into the planter box and bore the bolt holes to attach the frame, then attach the lattice to the box.