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How to Bend Saplings into a Beautiful Backyard Arbor

Updated: Mar. 24, 2022

Learn how to build this amazing backyard arbor yourself.

The arbor shown here is ambitious, but you can also just build one of the sides (see step 4) for a great-looking trellis. Here, we'll walk you through how to handle some of the trickier parts.

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1. Nail three saplings to a crosspiece

Form an arch with three smaller saplings nailed to a larger crosspiece.

2. Create the top fan

Find the middle of the crosspiece, and then gently bow the middle two pieces and nail them in place. Continue installing them in pairs. Check the spacing as you go, and then trim the ends.

3. Secure the two arches with a bottom crossbar

Create a doubled–up ridge and intermediate purlins. Nail the roof arches to the inside of the crossbar, to outside of the intermediate purlins and to one side of ridge.

4. Create the upright side pieces

Nail a group of saplings to the center crossbar. Then gently bend, evenly space and nail the ends in place. Position thicker ends near the bottom.

5. Screw the side pieces to the arched top

Attach the side pieces to the arched top with 3-1/2-in. galvanized drywall screws. Install 8-in.-long corner braces between the sides and top to add rigidity.

6. Mark the leg locations

Use spray paint to mark where you want to install the arbor legs. Then dig holes and install 18-in. lengths of perforated drain tile. Place a little gravel in each, set the arbor in position, level it, then fill with more gravel.

Plus: How to Build a Copper Trellis for Your Garden