A small screen like this is handy for hiding garbage cans or a central air-conditioning unit. It also can help shelter a patio or deck from view.
This design uses a 2×8 lattice sheet that you will cut to length. If you want a larger screen, add another section with another post and a 2-foot-wide lattice sheet. Or space the posts farther apart and make lattice out of 1x2s.
Choose rot-resistance lumber, either pressure-treated or the heartwood of cedar or redwood. It is a good idea to coat the bottoms of the posts, where they will sit in the ground, with a sealer/preservative before you start. Use the thicker type of lattice sheet. It should be at least ¾ inch thick total (each piece of wood should be at least 3/8 inch thick). You will need a day to build the structure here.
Lay Out and Dig the Postholes
Lay a straight board on the ground to indicate the location of the screen. It should probably be parallel to a house wall, a sidewalk, or another obvious reference point.
Mark for postholes whose centers are 27 inches apart. This will allow you to set 4×4 posts in the holes with a 2-foot panel spanning the posts. Dig the holes at least 2 feet deep. Tamp the bottoms firm with a 4×4 and pour a couple inches of gravel into each. Tamp the gravel and set the posts in the holes.
Temporarily brace one of the posts so that it is plumb. Use scraps of lumber driven into the hole or drive stakes into the ground and attach 1x2s to the posts and the stakes.
Attach Nailers and Lattice
Decide how high you want the lattice to extend. The lattice should be held off the ground 2-3 inches; take that into account when you measure. Use a circular saw to cut the 2×8 lattice sheet to the desired length. Cut four 1x1s to the same length.
On the post that is temporarily braced, attach a 1×1 nailer so that the lattice will e=be centered against the post. It should be at the same height you prefer the lattice to be. Use 3-inch decking screws driven every foot or so.
Have a helper hold the lattice against the nailer so one edge butts against the braced post. Attach the lattice to the nailer by drilling pilot holes and driving 4d nails into about every third lattice piece. As you work, rest the lattice on a scrap of lumber on the ground to keep it stable.
Adjust the other post so it aligns with the lattice. Temporarily brace it. Install a nailer with 30inch screws and attach the lattice with 4d nails just as you did on the first side. On both posts, complete the lattice sandwich by snugging another 1×1 nailer against the lattice. Drive screws through the 1×1 and into both the post and the other nailer to clamp the lattice in place.
Cut Post Tops and Add Rafters
Use a level to mark the posts for cutting to the same height. On each post, use a square to mark all four sides. Cut with a circular saw. Cut two 2×6 rafters to 39 inches so they run past the posts 4 inches on either side. Have a helper hold each in place with the top edge flush with the tops of the posts, while you drive two 3-inch decking screws into each joint. Be sure the rafters overhand the posts the same distance on each side.
A home center or lumberyard should stock a selection of fanciful newels or decorative post caps to choose from. Get two made of pressure-treated lumber, redwood, or cedar; or use an interior newel and give it several coats of high-quality paint.
The newels may come with their own screws attached. Drill pilot holes and twist them into the middle of the post tops. Otherwise, purchase double-pointed screws. Drill pilot holes in the post top and the newel bottom. Twist the screw into the newel using pliers, then screw it into the post top.
Anchor the Posts, Paint or Finish
Verify that the posts are still plumb and rebrace them, if necessary. Secure the posts in the ground by pouring concrete, firmly tamping in soil or tamping in gravel. Give the whole structure two solid coats of exterior paint or apply two coats of sealer-preservative containing stain or ultraviolet light blockers.