Do-It-Yourself Weekend Projects: Enhancing Outdoor Living

Do-It-Yourself Weekend Projects: Enhancing Outdoor Living

Trellises have been adding character and elegance to outdoor living spaces for years. Better yet, these stylish wooden structures are practical projects that bring everyday elegance to your yard or garden – and can be built in a single weekend.

Now is an ideal time to consider easy-to-construct outdoor features like a Western Red Cedar trellis. These elegant structures provide calming tranquility and dress up your front or backyard natural setting.

Here are a few considerations to remember when enhancing your outdoor living space with a trellis, and resources where to receive free trellis information brochures:

Site Selection

Consider attaching the trellis to your home, using it to shelter a path between the main house and an outbuilding, or simply frame the view of another landscape feature. Remember, one of the greatest appeals of a trellis is its architecture – so make sure the site and size you choose is appropriate for its surroundings.


Take special care when deciding the proportions of foundational posts and overhead canopy. For instance, a set of 4-inch by 4-inch posts would be ideal with 2-inch by 6- inch overhead boards. Also, make sure the posts are vertically straight and even in height, and ensure the overhead canopy boards are level and evenly spaced in parallel to each other – attention to detail is essential here.


There are a number of choices available, but one of the most popular building materials for trellises is Western Red Cedar.

Many homeowners specify Western Red Cedar due to its all-natural look, pleasant aroma and character that blend nicely with the natural surroundings. And Western Red Cedar’s natural resistance to decay and insects has long been recognized.

“Natural qualities of Western Red Cedar make it an excellent choice for a wide range of building projects both inside the home and outside the home – like trellises,” said Peter Lang, general manager of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. “Unlike plastic or imitation wood products, cedar is one of the most environmentally-friendly building materials you can use. It’s naturally durable without the need for chemical treatment, dimensionally stable, resilient and lightweight.”

Western Red Cedar is also free of the pitch and resin found in other softwoods – a quality that makes it ideal for a wide range of finishes. Whether you choose a lightly tinted semi-transparent stain or a two-coat solid color finish, cedar ranks at the top in its ability to accept and retain a finish.

Construction Tips

Prior to digging your postholes, remove all rocks, plants or sod that inhabit the area. These items can be strategically added or relocated after the trellis has been built.

Also, it’s paramount the posts be put solidly into the ground or secured to concrete footings. If you choose to put the post into the ground, the portion of the post that will below the ground should be treated with a preservative. Regardless whether you build or buy the concrete footings, the foundational posts must be level and true for the trellis to look correct. And be certain your posts are long enough to provide enough headroom once they are entered into place.

Once the posts are in place, consider adding 2-inch x 12-inch x 12-inch square cedar post caps on top of each post. These post caps ensure the posts can handle the weight of the overhead canopy boards by dispersing the load more evenly, and it provides a nice finishing touch to the structure. However, you’re using Western Red Cedar to construct the trellis canopy, which is lightweight and has a fine, consistent grain making it easy to work with.

Decorative Touches

Consider adding decorative touches to all canopy board ends. To create a decorative end, perfect your design on construction paper then use it as a template to transfer your design to each board end. Cut, and then sand the edges to create a smooth finish. Be systematic and symmetric in applying this decorative design to each canopy board. The possibilities are endless here, but choosing decorative flair to complement both the surroundings and the architectural feel of your house will add to the appeal.

As you’ll see, trellises can give any backyard some classical character as well as seasonal charm. A trellis can make a dramatic change to your outdoor living areas, and better yet, you can build it in just one weekend.

The Author:

The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association

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