How to - Gardening Resources

Easy-to-build lattice screen

Paul Lewis
Photography by
Mark Burstyn

Hide an air conditioner or composter with this easy outdoor screen.

The gardener's never-ending quest for more garden beds often means plantings have to share real estate with outdoor eyesores such as central air conditioners. We built this simple screen to hide that unsightly object, but its size could be adjusted to conceal any number of unattractive outdoor fixtures.

First, determine the approximate size of the screen you'll need. Measure your air conditioning unit, factoring in generous clearance so as not to restrict airflow. Next, fine-tune the dimensions based on the size of the lattice. The size of the slats and gaps is fixed, so use width and height dimensions that allow the full lattice pattern to be used to avoid a partial slat or gap at the edges.

In this case, the air conditioner is about 24" square, so I made the screen 40 1/2" x 32 1/2". The extra width accommodates pipes and wires on the right side of the unit.

Start by cutting the corner posts to length. A sliding compound mitre saw is an excellent tool for this job, but you can use a sharp handsaw, too. To create the peaked tops on each post, make cuts 30 degrees from square on all four sides of each post, creating a pyramid shape. If you're using a mitre saw, add the decorative detail line to the top of each post by limiting the depth of cut on the machine to 1/8" and making a shallow saw cut on the four sides.

Next, cut the lattice panels to size using a handsaw. (The flexible panels and metal staples at each lattice intersection make it difficult to cut this material with power tools.)

Measure, mark and cut the retaining strips to length; you're now ready to start putting the screen together.

Assemble the front frame first by laying out the two corner posts and front crosspieces on a flat surface, such as a deck or patio. Attach these pieces together using four #8 x 3" deck screws driven through the corner posts and into the ends of the crosspieces; pre-drill into the ends of the crosspieces with a 1/8"-diameter bit to avoid splitting the wood. For extra strength, add a blob of polyurethane construction adhesive to each joint before driving the screws home.

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