DIY Obelisk

I thoroughly enjoy working in my garden throughout the year, and it never fails to spark my imagination. I constantly dream about new additions, redesigns, and plant selections that would enhance the beauty of my garden. Last year, I decided to create an English cottage or parterre garden, which has a slightly more formal aesthetic compared to my other gardens. To enclose this space, I chose to use green velvet boxwood as a hedge, which beautifully complemented the vegetable and cutting flowers I intended to grow there.

In addition to the traditional cottage garden flowers such as roses, foxgloves, phlox, and alliums, I incorporated snap peas and chives and cutting flowers like cosmos, and dahlias. I arranged them in a more symmetrical manner within the garden, adding a touch of formality to contrast with the informal layout of my cottage garden. To highlight each section, my husband built charming obelisks for the center of these spaces. We modified the tutorial below, originally created by Liz Marie, to suit our needs.

Materials:

  • Two 1 x 4 x 8′ Cedar Boards
  • Two 1 x 2 x 8′ Cedar Boards
  • Fence Post Cap
  • Fence Post Decorative Topper of your choice
  • 1 1/2″ 18-gauge Trim Nails
  • 2″ GRK Trim Screws

Tools:

  • Miter Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Nail Gun
  • Drill
  • Tape Measure

Directions:

A. Cutting the Legs:

  1. Take two 1 x 4 cedar boards and rip them in half lengthwise to create 1 x 1 3/4 boards. These will serve as the legs.
  2. Set your Miter Saw to a 15-degree angle. Cut each 1 x 1 3/4 board to a length of 4 feet. For a taller obelisk, you can cut them to 6 feet. We chose a shorter length to maintain a smaller scale in our parterre garden.

B. Installing the Legs:

  1. Attach each leg to the post cap by drilling one 2″ Trim Head GRK Screws through the top of the cap and into each leg. Lay the obelisk on the ground.

C. Installing the Bottom Rung:

  1. Measure 12 inches up from the bottom on each leg. This will be the placement for the bottom rung of the obelisk. Adjust the length if you prefer a different size. For example, with a 6-foot obelisk, mark it at 18 inches. Feel free to adapt these measurements as you see fit.
  2. Set the miter saw to a 7-degree angle. Cut a 1 x 2 to a length of 17 inches, ensuring both ends mirror each other.

D. Installing the Top Rung:

  1. Measure up from the bottom and mark 24 inches. Adjust the measurement to 41 inches if you are building a 6-foot obelisk.
  2. Set the miter saw to a 7-degree angle. Cut a 1 x 2 to a length of 11 inches, making sure both ends match.

E. Repeat the rung installation steps on the opposite side of the obelisk.

F. Stand up the obelisk once the two opposite sides are complete.

G. For the remaining open sides, follow the same rung installation steps. However, add an additional 1 1/2″ to the length of each rung to cover the total width, including the thickness of the previously installed rungs.

H. Top Decorative Piece:

  1. Utilize a pre-built decorative post topper. Locate the center of the Post Cap, drill a hole, and secure the topper in place with a screw.

I. Screw Reinforcement:

  1. Strengthen all joints by using 2″ Trim Head Screws. Drive the screws from the inside to maintain a seamless appearance on the outside.

J. Paint and Placement:

  1. Paint the obelisks white to match the cottage garden theme. I painted them with Annie Sloan chalk paint “Pure White.” You can also leave them natural to age, stain them, or use any paint color of your choice.
  2. Attach screws at the bottom of each post to secure them into the ground.

By following these steps, you can create stunning obelisks that will enhance the beauty and charm of your English cottage or parterre garden. Enjoy the process and the rewarding results of your efforts!

Let me know in the comments if you plan to DIY your own obelisk for your cottage garden, or other DIY projects you’d like me to feature on the blog!

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