How to Make a Rustic Garden Arch

Some people build grandiose garden arches using big wooden beams or even iron -- but creating one that serves as a focal point in your yard doesn't have to be that fancy.
Arches don't have to be elaborate in order to provide visual appeal.Arches don't have to be elaborate in order to provide visual appeal.
To build a more rustic-looking arch, use round or rough-cut timber posts for the side supports, and then add rustic-looking sticks, bamboo or driftwood to the top. While this method can take less precision, it can still require some creativity and some handiness with a saw and drill.

Step 1

Select four sturdy posts that are about 12 feet long or slightly longer. Use round, rough-cut dried trees, old fence posts or any other salvaged materials that are at least 4 inches in diameter.

Step 2

Cut each post to exactly 12 feet, using a miter saw or a hand saw and a miter box that allows you to make an even, straight cut across each post.

Step 3

Cut four boards, posts or other sturdy wood, at least 2 to 3 inches in diameter, into 2-foot lengths.

Step 4

Lay two of your posts onto saw horses, about 2 feet apart. Set one of your 2-foot boards in between the two posts at the top.

Step 5

Secure the board to the top of each post by driving a 2-inch screw through the upper half of the board, at a diagonal, into the post. Drive a second screw through the lower portion of the board into the post. Repeat this with the opposite post, securing the board in between the two posts.

Step 6

Slide a second board in between the two posts, about 2 feet below the board at the top, and secure it to the posts with screws. Repeat this process with the other two posts, securing a board to the top of the posts as well as 2 feet down. This creates the two side support structures for your arbor.

Step 7

Dig 4-foot holes with a post hole digger, in the area where the arch will sit. Measure the distance between the center of each post to determine the exact distance between the two posts of each section of your arch. The width between the two support structures should be about 4 feet, but can depend on how much space you have in your garden.

Step 8

Set the side structures into their holes and pour ready-made concrete into the remainder of each hole.

Step 9

Hold a level against each post to ensure it's standing level -- or as close to level as possible with rough, uneven boards or tree posts. If your side structures won't stay level as the concrete dries, nail 2-by-4-inch boards, about 6 feet long, to their sides, allowing the boards to rest on the ground and hold the side structures in place. Allow the concrete to dry overnight.

Step 10

Select two long pieces of driftwood that are curved into a loose "C" shape, or thin willow sticks that you can bend into a wide "C," or tree branches that have a curved shape or a point or angle in the middle to serve as the "arches" at the top.

Step 11

Set one of your pieces of rustic, arch-shaped material against the front side of the one set of opposing posts, having a friend hold it in place. Drive screws through the ends of the curved piece and into front side of the vertical supports. For thinner materials, wrap a tube strap around them, allowing the flat, holed portions of the tube strap to rest on the support, and then drive screws through the holes. Repeat this process to add an arch to the top of the other set of opposing posts.

Step 12

Cut your 1-inch thick branches into five 2-foot lengths with a hand saw.

Step 13

Nail a 2-foot long branch from the top of one arch to the top of the other arch using small finish nails, creating some stability between the two arches. Nail the other four branches, each about 4 inches apart, to the left and right of the center branch, from one arch to the other. For more delicate arches or top supports, use screws after first drilling appropriately sized holes into the branches.

Things You Will Need

  • 4 12-foot posts
  • Miter saw or hand saw and miter box
  • 2- to 3-inch boards or round posts, 8 feet long
  • Saw horses
  • Drill
  • 2-inch galvanized screws
  • Post hole digger
  • Level
  • Quick-setting concrete
  • 2-by-4s, 6 feet long
  • Curved branches or driftwood, 4 to 6 feet long
  • Tube or pipe straps
  • 1-inch galvanized screws
  • 1-inch thick branches
  • Small finish nails


  • If you have several pieces of driftwood that are slightly "L" shaped or curved, you can also secure one piece to each of your support posts, crossing them over one another and then wrapping rope between the two to keep them together.
  • If you have an option for the type of timbers to use for your supports, opt for cedar, which is more rot-resistant than other types of wood.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.