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DIY Garden Arbor with Faux Patina ~ Build Plans

If you are just joining in, we have been working in our back yard this summer giving it a much needed facelift. First, was our DIY compost bin, then our DIY fire pit. Today we are sharing the next stage of our renovations – our DIY garden arbor with play area. It began like this…

Back Yard Wood Pile Before Makeover |


Yep, a hot mess. Each winter we run through a WHOLE LOTTA firewood. This is our wood pile that is normally full to the brim. However, I snapped this at the beginning of spring when we can break out of our cabin fever and get outside to clean up winter mess. Normally this is covered with a giant tarp, so my kids stick their bikes here to keep them out of the weather as our shed is full too. (next on my hit list)

Since 2003, I have had the pleasure of looking out our dining area and seeing this…

Wood Pile Mess |


Mind you I consider it a full blessing to be able to have a full supply of wood to keep us warm. It makes a heart happy for sure. However, we do enormous amount of work each year to harvest, split, stack, and prepare our wood. So, when a storm blows through and takes that tarp off soaking all our hard work, I get upset…we all do. It gets old running out in the rain or blistering snow to cover it back up. I have been scheming for years how to make it less work and more profitable.

In the spring, I began to clean up our area as I always do, but began mulling ideas over on how to make this less stress for us in the coming winter. Plus, make it more desirable to look at as well as hide some things.

Cleaning Up Yard Waste |

To the right of the wood pile we have our kids mud bar and sand table that were displaced ever since we built our pergola over our patio. This was only to be temporary as you can tell this is not the best place for them up against our neighbor’s garage. Remember, this was taken after winter had done its duty. (no judging…hahaha…)

Old Play Area |


I mentioned we first started by building our compost bins out of pallets. Well, we kept on accruing pallets and are building a new wood shed complete with garden shed attached. Here is what we’ve come up with – or the start of it at least.

Beginning of Wood Shed |


Lots of wood moving, stone moving and gettin’ ‘er done(ing). haha.

Moving Firewood to New Location |

Once the wood was moved, we needed to pull up all the concrete pavers and brick we had put down to rest the wood on. Not only was it messy, but feels so good too.

Family Working Together |

Since we already had some stone just outside our back door, we just wanted to extend the area using the red brick as border and fill it in. First, we graded it and then put down a landscaping fabric. Then, topped with more stone like we used in our fire pit makeover recently.

Laying Down Gravel for Outdoor Play Area |


Lots of stone hauling was in the game for me this summer. That’s just fine by me as I prefer to work to get exercise.

Hauling Gravel to Play Area |

While the kids and I were doing that work, JC was busy building the DIY garden arbor I mentioned earlier. We wanted to add a feature that gave us something nice to look at from our side and privacy from the other.

Here is what we designed and feel totally suits our new area. Complete all-in cost to build this was less than $120. Not bad when you consider buying one like this brand new is over $300. Cha-ching!! haha.

Build this Garden Arbor with Faux Patina with plans from Prodigal Pieces |

*post includes affiliate links so you can find the products we love to use too. (see full disclosure)

I share more picture reveals at the end of this post, so be sure to read through to see what else we did to our space, see my latest video, and enter to WIN!


Want to build one of your own? Here is what you’ll need:

Materials: (see cut list below each)
  • 5 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ cut into:
    • 4 – 2″ x 4″ x 84″ uprights
    • 4 – 2″ x 4″ x 24″ horizontal cross pieces
  • 2 – 2″x 6″ x 8′ cut into:
    • 2 – 2″ x 6″ x 60″ headers
    • 4 – 2″ x 6″ x  17″(see diagram below for details)
  • 13 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ cut into:
    • 10 – 1″ x 2″ x 69″ trellis vertical pieces
    • 22 – 1″ x 2″ x 24″ trellis horizontal pieces
  • 3 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′ cut into:
    • 9 – 2″ x 2″ x 32″ top slats
  • 3″ decking screws
  • 2 ½” decking screws
  • 8 – 3 ½” x 5/16″ carriage bolts with 8 washers and 8 hex nuts
  • 1″ crown staples for air nailer
  • patina kit in choice of finish (bronze, iron, copper)
  • E-Z Mender Brackets
  • stain of choice: we used Behr Waterproofing Stain in Chocolate

Step 1

First, you want to build your frames. Grab your cut 2″x 4″  and 1″ x 2″ pieces and assemble them like the diagram shows:

Garden Arbor Side Frames ~ Design by Prodigal Pieces |

Step 2

Once your frames are assembled, set them up on sawhorses or work surface. Next, you are going to make the trellis using the frame as a template, but are NOT attaching it to the frame. Ideally, you want to do the faux finish seen in video below before attaching. If you only want to stain the trellis same as the frame, reverse the layout below beginning with the vertical pieces.

However, if you want to accent the trellis with a faux patina or paint or contrasting stain, follow these steps: Place your trellis horizontal pieces into the frame at 6 ½” spacing. Do not attach to the frame.

Dry Fit Trellis Pieces in DIY Garden Arbor |

Step 3

Place your trellis vertical pieces on top of the horizontal pieces at 6″, 12″, and 18″ intervals. Attach only the vertical pieces to the horizontal pieces using your stapler and staples, but not to the frame. This is the back side of the trellis facing you.

Assembling Trellis for Arbor |

Step 4

Then, remove the trellis from the frame and complete it as you desire. I chose to create a faux patina using my patina paint kit as mentioned above. I’m all about texture and dimension, so these paints are going to help me create a wonderful aged look to our DIY garden arbor.

The process is simple and amazing! I show it all in the video below.

Painting Lattice Trellis with Dixie Belle Patina Paint |

Subscribe to Prodigal Pieces on YouTube for DIY video tutorials and a whole lotta fun |

Step 5

While you are waiting for you coats of paint to dry, you can finish the assembly of your arbor. Begin by, attaching your headers using the carriage bolts. Feel free to make your header have any decorative element you wish. We cut a notch out of our header for a decorative touch. Then, measure 2″ down from top edge, and 4″ in from outside bottom corner.

Garden Arbor Header Design by Prodigal Pieces |

Step 6

Now to add your top slats. Find center and place your first slat and attach using the 2 ½” screws. Place the next two flush to each end. Then, add the last four evenly spacing them at approximately 8 ½” apart.

Attach Slats to Garden Arbor ~ Design by Prodigal Pieces |

Step 7

Next, cut your corbels with your jigsaw from your 2″ x 6″ x 17″ pieces using the diagram below as a guide. You will need to cut off 1 ½” from the top edge.

Corbel Cut Diagram Design by Prodigal Pieces |

Once cut, attach your corbels as shown below:

Attaching Corbels to Garden Arbor by Prodigal Pieces |

Line up your corbel against the upright 2″ x 4″. That will cause the top of the corbel to go behind the 2″ x 6″ header. Using a 3″ screw, attach at the bottom of the corbel into the upright 2″x 4″. Next, use a 5/16″ drill bit to drill into the arched portion of the corbel. Attach with a 3″ screw. Finally, using two 2 ½” screws, attach the corbel from behind to the header.

Corbel Attaching Diagram by Prodigal Pieces |

Step 8

Fun part! This is the best time to stain your arbor if you are going to do so. Your trellis is still set aside if you did a faux treatment and by staining now you will avoid having to painfully cut in around it. Now, depending on what stain you use, it may only take one coat, but ours took two.

Step 9

Time to anchor this puppy! We are enamored by the Simpson Strong Tie E-Z Mender products. These brackets can help repair broken down fences, etc and are so easy to use! Perfect for 4″ x 4″‘s or 2″ x 4″ studs like we’re using. Just attach them to the arbor and set the arbor in place using the studs sticking out to hammer them level. Notice we attached a couple of scrap pieces between the legs to keep the from splaying. (moving apart) We left the trellis off until after installation to make it easier to handle.

Using E-Z Mender Brackets to Anchor DIY Garden Arbor by Prodigal Pieces |

Step 10

Now your DIY garden arbor is ready for those gorgeous trellis’ you made earlier. Just set in place with the horizontal slats facing out. Last, attach using your stapler and staples.

Attaching Trellis with Ryobi AirStrike Stapler |


And we’re done! Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. We did!

Gorgeous Garden Arbor with Complete Build Plans and Video by Prodigal Pieces |

While I haven’t chosen what to grow on those trellis’ yet, I’m leaning towards climbing roses, but may wait until next spring. For now I’m enjoying that amazing patina.

Faux Bronze Patina with Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces |

Plus, these gorgeous new bushes I found really caught my eye with their yellow blooms in the spring followed by the pumpkin color berries in autumn. Aren’t they beautiful? I know our birds will love those berries. They are called Pumpkin Hypericum.

Gorgeous Pumpkin Hypericum Bush with Yellow Flower in Spring and Pumpkin-colored berries in autumn by Prodigal Pieces |

The outcome of all our efforts sure has paid off. Undeniably, this space is no longer an eye-sore.

Back Yard View of DIY Projects with Pergola, Play Area, and Fire Pit by Prodigal Pieces |

Kids Play Area with Mud Bar and Sand Table by Prodigal Pieces |

Likewise, we reused my curbside created bench tops from our fire pit makeover to make benches for the sand table. Also, the mud bar got an addition of a bottom shelf for extra storage.

Even my absolutely sad looking park bench was needing a major overhaul.

Broken Down Park Bench |

In addition, there’s a new coat of paint on the iron, and replaced the boards with fresh cedar. I moved it to the play area and it suits that spot perfectly.

Cedar Park Bench Made New by Prodigal Pieces |

DIY Backyard Play Area with Tutorials by Prodigal Pieces |

The corner where the bench used to sit still needs an overhaul and repairs. However, for now my new (old) cast iron set fills the corner with a vintage vibe.

Vintage Cast Iron Settee and Chair in Garden Decor by Prodigal Pieces |


And, the best part…my kids. They love it and have been waiting oh-so-forever to have their things back. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times they asked to dive into that sand while I was taking pictures. However, I don’t blame them – I love it too!

Kids playing in DIY Sand Table by Prodigal Pieces |

Kids Playing with DIY Mud Bar for Back Yard Fun ~ by Prodigal Pieces |

Do pin and share this DIY garden arbor to inspire others to take their home to a new level…literally.

Build this beautiful DIY Garden Arbor to add height and growing space to your garden. Full build plans with video at Prodigal Pieces |

Up next, this antique dresser that was left for dead gets a new lease on life for Furniture Fixer Upper time. Head here to see the after!

Damaged Antique Chest Before Makeover by Prodigal Pieces |

So be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the updates. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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Also, more projects like this DIY garden arbor:

Make your outdoor space inviting, safe, and cozy with this DIY Fire Pit tutorial with video by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comDIY Patio Makeover Complete with Pergola all done on a budget by a family of 8 by Prodigal Pieces |

208 replies on “DIY Garden Arbor with Faux Patina ~ Build Plans”

Beautiful job! My favorite things to paint are old desks in need of some love. I would love to try Dixie Belle Paint on my next adventure!

Sorry I couldn’t figure how to comment other than reply: This is beautiful! I would try to patina the cedar bench wood to make it look. like metal!

You’re new remodeled area looks great. You all done a wonderful job
I have a headboard and foot board that need painting along with a couple of dressers. My paint supply is getting low so really could use more paint and would dearly love to try the Dixie Belle Paints
Thank you for this giveaway opportunity

Wowzers!!! What a huge job and beautiful transformation!! Doesn’t it just bring a huge smile to your face and heart? Congratulations!!

I think your yard is starting to look amazing. Well done all of you, that is the whole family. You can call in at my place any time.? That is Australia ??. Much inspiration for our summer coming up.
Thank you.

Beautiful job! Love the arbor & the area you redid looks amazing! I have yard envy now!!
I have a small wardrobe that is begging for that gorgeous blue paint shown in the photo!! That’s what I would paint first!!

Well done! I can only imagine all the work you and the family put into this transformation!! I’m looking to repaint a dresser. My daughter and her friend made a blue birthday cake…on my freshly painted dresser top (it was drying in the dining room!) Unfortunately, they got blue paint coloring on the dresser 🙁

What a beautiful result. I can’t imagine how many hours of work went into making such a wonderful spot. I would love to have such a place!! The arbor looks like something we could tackle with your well written instructions, and we just might give it a try. Thank you so much!

Backyard looks lovely and so inviting. I would love to try DB paints – I have tons of projects waiting to get beautiful!

Beautifully done! I love how it was a team effort. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Dixie Belle products. I would love to give them a try. I don’t have any one specific project to try them on – too many to list! LOL

I absolutely love your new space! Complete 180 and So awesome to see your whole family involved! I am so wanting to try the Dixie Belle paint and patina products! Great job 😀 enjoy your new space!!

Isn’t it satisfying to be able to sit back and enjoy all of your hard work? Very pretty and relaxing space.

That was an amazing makeover. I have a wood storage area that looks pretty sad too. I think I am getting some ideas!

You are an inspiration with all of your great ideas and tips. I love the arbor and thanks for sharing. I change my mind every single day or minute, but I would paint a bookcase that used to belong to my grandmother. Thank y’all for the giveaway too.

I loved the makeover! Your home is beautiful and you continue to find practical ways to make it even prettier. I’d love to live next door to you!
The first thing I’d paint is an old desk.

That is a lot of work and we love your post and how tos. We also love our @Dixie Belle Paint. We have been using it for three years on hundreds of projects at our shop-Just Repurposed.

I love love love your blog! I also love how you have all of your awesome kiddos helping out! Reminds me of my childhood helping my parents around our house. They may complain about it, but they’re making memories and they don’t even know it.

Every time I read one of your posts I am blown away by your hard work and creativity! I love the garden arbor and in fact I will be sharing this one with my husband! If I win the first thing I think I will paint is a cute little fence around my air conditioner….Thank you!

Love the arbor, and I love love love the faux patina! I know what my first Dixie Belle purchase is going to be!

Wow! Your outside looks fantastic. So peaceful and serene. Don’t know how you manage to do it in this heat but what an excellent job!

I love the makeover. We built an arbor that looks very similar. Ours is wider and we hung a porch swing in it. It is one of my favorite places to go….when it isn’t 105….. our heat index for the day? I have never used this brand of paint. I would love to give it a try!

My hubby tells everyone if it stands still long enough I will paint it! I need to try the Dixie bell paint! Your yard looks beautiful now!!

Youryard is beautiful! And I love that your whole family is helping when you do a project. Thank you for the giveaway!

Thanks to your blog I have tried Dixie Belle paint and love it. I need to try those patina sprays ❤️ Thanks! Lisa

Love all your ideas! everything turned out great!!! Love me some Dixie Belle paint too! I did my kitchen cabinets in Drop Cloth! Love it! Thank you!

your backyard looks amazing!! I am sure the neighbors approve as well:) I am wanting to do something for my backyard as well….I will show the trellis / arbor to my husband tonight!!! love it!

Wow! What a grand transformation! The pergola and garden area look like it will be well used and enjoyed! It all is a lot of work, but so worth it, especially knowing how much $$$ is saved! I would use the paint to repurpose an entertainment center for my sewing room. I want to add shelving and doors to store my supplies.

I like the vibrant colors of the Dixie Belle paints. I think the first thing I’d like to paint (with my HomeRight paint sprayer that I LOVE) is a vintage wrought iron dining set I have outside. Currently it is a non-vibrant red and really could use a pop. While it is an adorable vintage set that I got for a steal at a garage sale and it has awesome shape to the chairs, the color is quite drab. I think a bright torqouise might do the job.

THIS IS AMAZING!!!! Come do my yard next, OK?!?! : ) You guy’s back yard has to be the beauty-spot of the neighborhood! WELL done!!!!

I am so jealous of your play area! It looks so fresh.
I haven’t tried Dixie Belle yet, but would love to try them out on a desk I am about to make-over.

aww…you can come and play! 😀 haha Thanks, Kimberly. We are so glad we can look out the window to check on the kids and they love their new shaded spot.

I haven’t tried Dixie Belle but I love what you did with it! I have a glass topped patio table that has white legs. It would look great with patina added!

Love all you have done! It looks amazing. I would love to paint some end tables and a coffee table, so that is what I would use the paint for.

Oh. My. Goodness! Your yard is gorgeous! I love in AZ and don’t have the luxury of much green. I miss it so much! And I think your darling cast iron set would look good in white. I said yellow when you posted it earlier. If I win the paints I have a shelf full of little projects in my garage waiting for a fresh look. One is a cute mirror shelf combo!

How fun to hear. Thank you! I couldn’t live out there for that reason. I love to garden and grow and especially love the seasons. Though I may head your way during winter! 😀

Wow! What a difference! This “yard section” turned out great, congratulations on your new view – you must stand at the window and smile!

They are out there 24/7 ha! Or so it seems. I’m happy that we are making better use for our space and particularly that our wood will be ready to go. I want to get our kitchen done! 😀

I am so inspired by the post on the arbor and the wonderful paint. I know my grand daughter will love this post when I send to her.

Your backyard is looking fabulous! The arbor, with the lovely patinaed trellises, is beautiful! I also really like your pergola. I can’t figure out what to do outside our house. We have a gorgeous view out the front and side of our house, but the back, which would be the best functional location for outdoor dining, has very little going for it… Ugh!

That was kinda like our area we did today. Eye sore and what do you do with it? I hope you can find inspiration from what we are doing. Thanks for stopping by!

What a great job. The arbor looks fantastic & I loved how you added the patina using Dixie Belle paints.

Love the patina on the arbor! I have a lamp, outdoor furniture and flower pots i want to patina. So many plans… so little time!

You’re the hardest working blog-posting, home-schooling, cooking-from-scratch, DIYing mom EVER! Wish I had half your energy . . .

Larissa, this space looks AMAZING! Wowza! As a rose-grower myself, I would recommend that you plant clematis on your arbor instead of the roses. It’s a little close against the house to put a rose there and I think they’ll be a bit too large for your area. Clematis would be a lovely choice! And no thorns or hard branches to poke you! thank you for the chance to win the paint. I would love to have some to play with. I have a lot of pieces of furniture to paint, but my first ones may be tables or stools!

Yes, I had tried that on our pergola and only one grew. Am considering it again. I want an easy, non-invasive plant, but I already have a trumpet vine. Those grow like crazy.

Love Your Makeovers, makes me want to makeover the rest of our deck, have a bench that needs a new redo with a great color, Thank You!!!

Oh my goodness Larissa. I had to scroll and scroll just to comment. But that is a good thing. I love what you did in your back yard. And that faux patina has me drooling! I think I’ll come over for a bit! 😉

I always enjoy seeing your new projects. I am hoping to transform an antique table soon but haven’t decided what colors to paint it.

Your backyard is looking wonderful! I think I’d paint a small bookcase with these paints. Thank you for the giveaway.

I love your project. The arbor turned out great, would love to build one for my lady banks rose to climb across. Thank you for the inspiration and giveaway.

Gosh! That looks amazing! Absolutely stunning! Would love to hear details on the park bench makeover as I have one that needs the wood replaced AND painted! Thanks or the chance to win!

You guys did an amazing job! Looking good! I’ve never used Dixie Bell Paint, but I’m sure that it would make one of my antique dressers that are collecting dust in the basement look fabulous!

WOW, Such a transformation and I LOVE the arbor/pergola that your husband built! I must try some of the Dixie Belle paint. It seems to work so well in all of your projects!
P.S. What an amazing family you have! In every photo I’ve seen, no-one is frowning. All seem happy to be helping out.
Gosh, we sure need more excellent examples of what a family is all about. Lucky me, my own 3 children (now grown), were almost always proud to help out. “That’s what families do, help one another”; is what I always told them. Sorry for the length of this post… I felt moved to express my appreciation. Thank you for sharing so much of your sweet family!

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