Emily Winters: Corralling Climbing Creatures

Keeping the Boston ivy that grows up the side of my garage under control has turned into a part-time job. Stuff’s crazy, isn’t it? I had surveyed the plant situation when I moved into my house (three years ago as of Tuesday!) to find that not only was it latching onto and consuming the fence that separates my yard from the neighbors, but it was also clinging onto my cinderblock garage with its happy little rootlets (or scientifically, according to resources, its “suckers”). The garage itself isn’t in poor condition, so it’s probably not not doing a lot of damage to the joints, but I still want to keep the surface clean and ivy-free.

The raging ivy needs much upkeep and maintenance. Hopefully the trellis will help!

The plant needed some taming, so after years of trimming it back and transplanting it, I finally decided to build it a decoy: a pretty little trellis that it could consume all it wanted without actually attaching itself to our garage.

Keep on reading to check out the whole tutorial here. It ended up being a sweet little DIY design that I’m really happy with. Heads up, lots of pictures!

Knowing that I was going to build the trellis in a narrow space on the right side of my garage door, I began construction with minimal materials and tools:

  • Four 1x2x8 furring strips ($1 each)
  • A carpenters pencil
  • A chop saw (that we own)
  • Clamps (also owned)
  • And an air compressor and nail gun with 1″ nails (we’re lucky to own so many gadgets)
Trellis materials.


I planned for the design to be simple but contemporary, with two furring strips standing vertically, and horizontal ladder rungs so that the trellis would look a little bit like the railings that we built for the front porch and the pergolas.

Instead of spacing the ladder rungs evenly up the entire trellis, I grouped them into four sets of four, first clamping the vertical pieces together, and then measuring to indicate the spacing of each rung using a scrap piece of 1×2 lumber.

Marking off trellis rung placement.

The purpose of etching the marks on both boards at the same time to was to ensure that the horizontal boards ran level. And it was especially important that the boards be level, because I was going to notch the vertical furring strips so that the horizontal pieces sat within in a reinforced interlocking design.

To notch out each board, I kept the vertical set clamped together, and set my chop saw to cut at a 3/4″ depth to prevent it from sawing all the way through the lumber.

Setting the chop saw blade.

What I did next was tedious, partially because I was limited by my tool resources; a table saw with a dado blade may have worked much faster. By cutting through the boards slowly, I was able to carve 3/4″ slices into the wood in small 1/8″ increments. It’s not the greatest picture, but it does give you a good idea of how many cuts were required to create a space for one single rung.

Cutting the interlocking spaces for the trellis. Slowly.

This wasn’t fast. It took nearly an hour to carve out all 16 notches and gave both me and the chop saw a legit workout. I followed up by cutting 16 12″ pieces of furring strips to serve as the horizontal rungs.

Cutting the interlocking spaces for the trellis rungs.

To clean up ragged edges, I ran over each board quickly with a multi-tool sanding attachment. So clean. So smooth.

Sanded trellis pieces.

Because the entire trellis was really lightweight and wouldn’t be holding a tremendous amount of ivy, I had no reservations about using the nail gun to attach the vertical and horizontal pieces together. With three clean 1″ nails popped into each attachment, it’s more than slightly secure, I could nearly climb it myself. As an alternative to the nail gun, I’d suggest 1″ wood screws for a secure connection.

Assembling the trellis with a nail gun.

When it came to installing the finished piece, I relied partially on Mother Earth, burying the lower two inches of the trellis into the ground beside the driveway, and then deciding to anchor the top of the trellis directly to the garage wall with a single, light-duty cement screw.

By attaching a piece of 1×4 scrap to the backside of the trellis, it’ll remain forced to float an inch off the cinderblock, leaving the ivy having to reach harder for the wall.

Installing the trellis to the garage wall with a cement screw.

Voila, so pretty, simple, and purposeful, right? The first few pieces of ivy needed some training, but hopefully with a little more positioning it’ll latch on and be right at home.

Installed trellis.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

14 Responses

  1. Mukhlesur says:

    Woow Nice

  2. Matt says:

    An air compressor and nail firearm with nails we are fortunate to claim such a large number of devices. I made arrangements for the configuration to be basic yet contemporary, with two furring strips standing vertically, and flat stepping stool rungs so that the trellis would look a tad bit like the railings that we manufactured for the entryway patio and the pergolas.

  3. Wow.. awesome project, I definitely try this at home.

  4. [...] the window box was guided by the design of the existing railings on my front porch and pergolas and the trellis that I built not long ago. Continuing the horizontal clean-lined look in the form of a window box [...]

  5. I love it and would love to do it in my garden

  6. fosterdogmom says:

    I recycled a headboard found on the street. It is of mission style. I turned it sideways, cut off the cap ends so it would sit level, secured it to two long pieces of rebar and the jasmine looks great.

  7. theaboo says:

    It's a great idea but seem to require lots of tools, clamps etc , this may become a little too costly for me..

    Great that you got it done though..


    • emily says:

      Two clamps can be as inexpensive as $10 at some shops (and they're good forever). The compressor and nail gun could easily be replaced for $5 in wood screws, and the interlocking design doesn't have to be done to be effective; it could easily be a <$20 project!

  8. [...] via: Emily Winters: Corralling Climbing Creatures Category: Home Tags: Climbing, Corralling, Creatures, Emily, [...]

  9. emily says:

    Thanks Kathy! Glad you liked it!

  10. Kathy says:

    Great project! I'm going to try and tackle this myself!

  11. [...] this week’s post on DIY Network, I corralled the wild beast with a unique contemporary trellis. Check it out for [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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