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Free Garden Bridge Plans
Follow these plans and you can easily build a bridge like this

Step 1 - Obtain Materials & Tools   (All boards should be green treated or brown treated or cedar)

  • (5) six-foot treated 1x8 boards
  • (1) ten-foot treated 1x8 board
  • (3) eight-foot treated 2x8's
  • (1) six-foot treated 2x8
  • (8) eight-foot treated 2x4's
  • (16) 3.5 inch long 3/8 inch diameter lag bolts with nuts and lock washers
  • (18) 3.5 inch long 3/8 inch diameter lag screws with washers
  • (100) 2 inch galvanized deck screws or 6D galvanized box nails 
  • (75) 3 inch galvanized deck screws.

Tools: 3/8 inch drill, 3/8" &  5/32" drill bit, circular saw or power arm saw, ratchet and 9/16" socket, tape measure, carpenter's square, cordless screwdriver, hammer

Step 2 - Cut Pieces

  1. Cut the six-foot 1x8 boards exactly in half so that each board is about 36 inches.
  2. Cut the (1) ten-foot 1x8 board into (3) 36-inch pieces of the same length as of step 1.
  3. Cut the six-foot 2x8 into (2) 36-inch pieces that are exactly the same length as the boards of steps 1&2.
  4. From four of the 2x4's cut (4) 32 1/2 " pieces and (8) 31" pieces.  You can do this efficiently by cutting two 31" pieces and one 32 1/2" piece out of each eight-foot 2x4.
  5. Out of the remaining 2x4's cut (4) 44" pieces and (4) 40 1/2" pieces.

The (3) 8-foot 2x8's won't be cut unless there is slight variation in lengths.
You should now have:

  • (13) 36" 1x8 boards
  • (2) 36" 2x8 boards
  • (3) 8-foot 2x8 boards
  • (8) 31" 2x4 boards
  • (4) 32 1/2" 2x4 boards
  • (4) 44" boards
  • (4) 40 1/2" boards

Step 3 - Build Bridge Frame
Attach the (2) 36-inch 2x8 pieces to the ends of the (3) 8-foot 2x8 pieces as shown in figure 1.  Secure each 2x8 with two 2" deck screws on each end to make attaching the lag screws easier. Drill (18) 5/32" pilot holes and then use 3 lag screws and washers at each location as shown in figure 1 for a total of 18 lag screws and washers. You will need a 9/16 ratchet wrench to screw in the lag bolts. Don't attach decking yet - it is much easier to do this as the very last step so you have access when attaching the guard rails.

Figure 1
If you look close you will see that each 2x8 was secured with 2 deck screws at the top and bottom before drilling 3/16" pilot holes and inserting the 3/8" lag bolts and washers.

Step 4 - Cut Corners of 31" Pieces
Cut the corners off the (8) 31" pieces as shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2
Cut the corners off the 31" pieces as shown above.  You can print out Figure 2a, cut it out, and use it as a marking guide.

Step 5 - Construct the Guard Rails
Lay out the pieces as shown in Figure 3 below. It is helpful to use the side of the bridge as a stop as shown in Figure 4.  Fasten the 44" pieces to the 40 1/2" pieces first as shown below. Then attach the remaining pieces.  Check for square in the 90-degree angles!  Fasten with (3) 3" deck screws in each location. To easily construct the other side guard rail, use the first guard rail as a template.  When done with both sides, check to see that they are identical as shown in figure 5 below.

Figure 3
The two middle posts are 40 1/4 inches apart.

Figure 4
I used the frame as a stop for the bottoms of the guard rail.

Figure 5
The two guard rail assemblies should match when placed back to back.

Step 6 - Drill Holes for Carriage Bolts
Temporarily attach the sides with 2" deck screws to hold railings to frame as shown in Figures 6 & 7 below.  Then drill 3/8" holes where you will attach  the 3/8" carriage bolts (8 per side) with washer and nuts. When drilling holes, take care to avoid hitting lag bolts near ends - these will dull your bit in a hurry!  Take the sides off by backing out the deck screws. You will attach the railing at the site where the bridge will be.  The completed bridge is too heavy and bulky to safely lift!

Figure 6

Figure 7

Step 7 - Position Bridge and Attach Sides
Take the bridge frame to the location it will be finally installed. Make sure bridge is set on a solid foundation. Also, to avoid injury, two people should carry the bridge frame to its final location! Pound in carriage bolts with a hammer.  Then place washer and nut on each bolt and tighten.  See Figure 8.

Figure 8

Step 8 - Attach Deck Boards
Place all decking and space properly. The decking should be spaced about 3/8 inch apart.  Secure decking with 2" inch screws if you have a cordless driver or #8 galvanized deck nails if you do not have a driver. Secure each board with 6 screws or nails with 2 nails or screw into each 2x8. If desired you can use 3 nails or screws in each location.  Do not use a corded AC power tool over the water! See Figure 9.

Figure 9
Note that you will probably wish to place fill dirt and/or plugs of sod or grass up to the ends of the bridge to make the bridge level with the surrounding area.

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Copyright 2004 - Michael Sakowski