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I'm getting married soon. One of the decorations is a custom built arbor 7.5 ft tall, 7 ft wide, and 2 ft deep, made with 2x4 legs. After the wedding we want to install it in our garden as a rose trellis. The location we're planning on has about a 1.5 ft drop over the 7 ft width with a shallow drainage swale down the middle of it, although it's more like a yard because it rarely has running water. The ground is hard packed clay with grass over it. How can I install the arbor so it's free standing?

Since the legs are only 7 ft long, I don't want to bury 2 ft in the ground. I'm also not sure if the wood is ground contact rated. It's stained with oil based deck stain (2 coats) but likely isn't pressure treated.

If it were a deck or similar wide structure I could put it on blocks but at 7. 5ft high and only 2ft deep it would be top heavy and fall over in high wind.

I've seen ground stakes for 4x4 posts, but not for 2x4's.

Other than cementing 4x4 posts in the ground, with the low side longer for leveling, then screwing the 2x4 legs to them, how could I install this arbor?

  • Is there a reason to not use the ground stakes other than size? I feel like the extra 2" would be easy to fill. – JPhi1618 Apr 7 at 16:10
  • While it would be easy to add another 2x4 to make up the size, or notch a 4x4 to support the existing 2x4, that would make the bottom part of the legs look bigger and might not fit with the esthetic of the rest of the arbor. Also, the 4x4 ground spikes are $20-25 each; 4 of them would be more expensive than the rest of the arbor combined. – Eric Simpson Apr 8 at 19:42
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I'm not sure if this will work for your exact situation, but you could use 2 or 4 "deck blocks" to anchor the trellis in place.

Deck block

These are made to hold a 2x board in the cross or a 4x4 in the "socket". You could connect your side legs of the trellis with a length of pressure treated 2x4 and place this block in the center. Then use concrete screws to attach the 2x4 to the deck block. The idea would be to bury the deck block so the 2x4 sets on the ground to stop it from rocking.

If you think you needed it to be more stable, you could get a block for each corner and use galvanized brackets and concrete anchors to attach them to your feet. Totally or partially bury them to level the trellis.

The advantage is that you get a pre-cast concrete footing without the need to manually mix and pour concrete and it's relatively easy to move if you ever needed to (easier than a typical post concreted into a hole in the ground).

But, that said, getting a single pressure treated 4x4, cutting it into 2' sections and concreteing those into the ground doesn't sound like a terrible option either.

I'd worry about stakes or something similar being pulled out by the wind. With a free standing structure, the mass/stability of the footings is the only thing that can hold it in place.

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