We love a good vegetable garden! We spent a lot of time getting the raised beds and concrete patio in place last year in our back yard!! You can see all our current backyard projects we've worked on here if you are interested. Now that all the main layout and structural elements of the yard are in place, we can start working on some of the fun *extra* stuff.
One thing we wanted last year is a bit more height in our garden. So, we decided to build a climbing garden arbor first thing this year. We are so excited to let the cucumbers, grape tomatoes and another few great vine plants grow up the arbor! It will be awesome to walk under it and pick dinner! I tell you – it'll be magical!!
The best news is that, it was pretty simple to make and it only took a day to build it. The total cost was just over $100. That sounds good to me considering similar arbors cost anywhere from $250 bucks and they are not customized to my space…
Vegetable Garden Arbor DIY Plans
**NOTE: If you want to build this a different width, read the info at the bottom of the post for my suggestion on how to adjust the arch**
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw
- Jig Saw
- Orbital Sander
- 1/2″ Drill Bit
- Measuring Tape
- Pocket Hole Jig (We love the Kreg Jig!)
Supplies List (rough lumber and hardware; letters correspond with the parts list of the arbor)
- A – (4) 2×6 – 10′ (corner posts)
- B – (4) 2×6 – 8′ (horizontal supports)
- C – (2) 2×12 – 8′ – (arches)
- D – (2) 2×4 – 4′ (side cross braces)
- E – (1) 2×4 – 4′ (top brace)
- F – (2) 4'x8′ sheets of 4″ o.c. concrete reinforcement mesh (sides of arches)
- (4) 1/2″ – 6″ galvanized bolts
- (8) 1/2″ galvanized washers
- (4) 1/2″ galvanized nuts
- (1) box 2 1/2″ deck screws
- (4) 1 1/2″ pocket screws (for connecting the top brace)
- (15) 12″ plastic zip ties
- A – Corner Columns/Posts
- B – Horizontal Supports
- C – Arches
- D – Side Cross Brace
- E – Top Cross Brace
- F – Concrete Wire Mesh
Vegetable Garden Arbor DIY Plans Construction Steps –
Cut out all the pieces according to the dimensions above, or change them as needed to fit your space. Then for installation, just repeat the instructions for the front and back, then that connect the two sides.
1. Cut Corner Columns/Posts
Cut the top of all four corner posts at an angle. I cut mine at a 5 degree angle from the center of the post. This will keep water from staying on top of the post, and keep the wood from rotting out fast. You can always do a bigger angle if you want, we wanted it to be less noticeable, so we kept our small.
2. Level and Anchor!
We decided to install the garden arbor over the path that entered into our box garden area, right off the patio. This allowed us to anchor the arbor to the raised garden beds. That way we didn't need footings.
It all depends on where you what to install yours on how it needs to be anchored. You could anchor it to a patio, concrete footings in the ground, a fence, or garden boxes like ours. Whatever you choose to do, you must anchor your arbor, so you are safe from it blowing over in the wind or getting knocked over by climbing kiddos and hurting someone.
Before cutting the wood to the final length, check for level. Our patio slants at a 2% grade, which made one side of the arbor 1″ taller, in order to make it level across the top. Pictured below, is an easy way to check. By spanning a board across with a level on top, I was able to measure the difference from the top of the leveled board to the ground. And add the difference to the longer side. Once the corner posts were cut to length and angled on top, Screw to the side of the boxes (or secure to the other anchor options).
3. Cut the Profile!
Next, cut out the profile for the horizontal supports. I matched a design feature already existing in our backyard on the stairs that we fixed last year. With a piece of cardboard, I made a template to trace on the ends of the new horizontal supports.
**When adding to an already designed back yard mimicking some of the design elements already in place, either on your home or other structures, can help to pull things together. So, keep in mind, that this particular design element can change to something that fits your yard better if desired.
|matching existing curve detail||cutting out curve detail on horizontal supports|
4. Cut Out Arches
Now cut out the arch pieces. I've tried to break down each step. Feel free to ask questions…
Start by printing a copy of the arch piece image with all the dimensions. You just need to measure out and cut one piece, then you can trace that as a pattern on the following 3 boards. On the first piece of wood, I started by drawing the two main arcs. The final width between the two line should be 5-1/2″. To draw the arc lines perfectly here are the steps:
Drawing the Arcs:
- Set up a board perpendicular the the arch board.
- Locate the center of the arc radius (which is 3′ 5-3/8″ according to the diagram above), on the perpendicular board and screw a screw into that radius point.
- Now, tie a string (approximately 1′ longer in length than the actual radius) to that screw at the center radius point.
- Wrap or tie the string around the pencil at the radius length (this is one reason why you need a little excess string)
- Keeping the pencil as straight up and down as possible, use the string to guide the pencil and you will create the perfect arc.
After the inside arc is drawn add 5 1/2″ the length of the string, secure the pencil in place again and draw the outside arc following the same general steps as above.
Here are the final arcs drawn on the 2×12.
Once the arcs are drawn, you can begin to draw in the end marks. Start by marking the overall length between the two ends, or the bottom distance of the arch piece, that is listed above on the diagram as 2′-9 11/16″. These marks will be the the inside corners of the arch.
On the bottom corner, follow the steps shown in the picture.
- Place square on inner arc, end mark.
- Measure 1” in toward the outer arc.
- Pivot the other arm of the square until it measures 1′ 1-1/16” when it intersects the outer arc.
- Trace the square line onto the board.
It will look something like this once it is drawn on:
Now, repeat the steps above on the other side, with a couple different measurements. Follow these steps, as shown in the picture below:
- Place square on inner arc, end mark.
- Measure 5 1/2” in toward the outer arc.
- Pivot the other arm of the square until it measures 1-1/16” when it intersects the outer arc.
- Trace the square line onto the board.
Use the circular saw to cut off the straight edges. **If you don't have a circular saw you can use your jig saw for this step too.
Use the Jig Saw to cut around the arcs. Go slow and steady. Try and keep the blade from bending as you go around the arch.
Once that is all cut out, take that initial piece and use it as a template for the other three arch pieces. THANK HEAVEN! That will make life a LOT easier! I promise!
Sand and clean up any raw edges.
Now that you have all the pieces cut out and sanded, you can assemble them.
With the corner posts in place, measure down from the top of the column piece to the bottom of the horizontal support. Clamp and level a spare 2×4, lined up directly below the marks just made. Set the horizontal support on this 2×4 to hold it in place while it is secured with a screw through the back. The 2×4 clamped support can then be removed.
The horizontal support is screwed through the back just to hold it in place until the bolts are installed later.
Now that the horizontal supports are in place, it is time to install the arch pieces. Clamp the arches where they will be screwed. Make sure to line up the bottom point of the arch directly with the bottom of the horizontal support. Start to secure it in place by screwing 2 screws through each arch piece, into the back of the horizontal supports. (These screws will be hidden by the back top support once it is in place. Do not screw through the front of the arbor!!)
At the bottom of the arch piece, pre-drill a hole approximately 3 inches up from the end through the thickness of the board (or the 1-1/2″ width of the board) into the side of the corner posts.
Once all the arch pieces are in place, clamp the back horizontal supports into their proper place. Drill a 1/2″ hole through the middle of the three pieces. This is the hole that the bolt will go through. Install and secure the bolts with washers and nuts.
Here are all the bolts in place, with the washers next to the wood and the nuts on the inside of the arbor. Repeat the assembly steps for the back part of the structure.
6. Secure the Sides Together
Start by securing the 2 middle cross braces in place. You can either use a Kreg Jig to drill 2 holes on the back of the cross braces or screw directly through the front of the corner posts which ever you would prefer.
Once the 2 middle cross braces are secure, you can install the top cross brace. I found that it was easiest to attach it with pocket hole screws using a Kreg Jig system.
Do not install the 2 bottom side cross braces until after you have secured the mesh in place so that you can line it up properly with the end of the wire mesh.
To help hold the top cross brace, clamp a block of wood below it while it is screwed in place.
After, the top cross brace is in place, you can start to hang the 2 panels of wire mesh. Beginning at the top will help to get the arch just right. I chose to use zip ties since we haven't decided if we are going to stain the wood yet and didn't want it to be permanent. You could use staples to secure it in place otherwise.
Once it is anchored on top, help the mesh to follow the arch until it reaches the side cross braces, and secure the wire mesh to those braces. Now you can see exactly where the wire mesh will end. And you can attach the 2 bottom cross braces of the arbor and tie the wire mesh to it.
Tada! The finished vegetable garden arbor.
It also makes a great kid car garage.. or so we have come to find out.
What do you think? We would love any pins or shares! Please do not re post any images from this post on any other sites. Thanks
How to Adjust This Arbor To Fit Your Space
Update May 2015 — we've had questions about how to adjust this to be wider/narrower than our 3′ 6″ opening.
To customize it to fit your space, you'll just basically need to take the dimensions from the gothic arch piece and shorten it from the center. It may take some guesstimating, until you get it right.
I recommend saving and printing the plan image of the arched piece at actual size (using the poster printing settings on your printer, if available). Then tape the pieces together to make a properly sized/dimensioned piece. Then in the center of the board, cut a perpendicular line and then overlap the piece until the straight edges measure half of the width of your opening, like the very rough sketch below. 🙂
Then use the piece as a stencil to cut it out. And obviously the top horizontal piece will be shorter by the difference between your opening and ours.
And when you build one, please send us some pictures!
Update, December 2015: Rae send us some pictures of her new gate that she and her hubby built, inspired by our Gothic arch here. They adapted it for their space (and for metric measurements!) and it looks great! See more over at Rae's Nomady.
Update, January 2017: Here are some pictures of the arbor that our reader, Shelly, built. What a beautiful garden, Shelly! Thanks for sharing
Shelly had this to say:
The arbor we made ended up being a whopping 10′ tall! Because I want to grow passion fruit on this arbor, I wanted it really tall. Also, I routed the edges of the arch and the uppermost horizontal supports. The arch is so tall that you can hardly see this detail but I know it's there and it really put a nice finished detail on the arbor.
This arbor is the crowning feature of my new 26′ x 26′ raised bed garden, which is still in production at the moment, but soil will soon be delivered and seeds will be planted (we are subtropical zone 10a).