Escaping to a backyard hammock is a special treat. But without sturdy, hang-worthy trees, your options are fairly limited. If you’re the DIY type, you may be interested in this guide to building a simple pergola that can safely support your hammock — and look good doing it!
|2 – 10′ 4×4 treated||drills (large carpentry, mid size carpentry, and Phillips head bits)|
|2 – 16′ 2v6||circular saw|
|4 – 12′ 2v4||carpentry levels|
|6 – 2v3v8 top portion||packing for concrete|
|4 – 80 lb bags quikrete||saw horses|
|deep diving ext + 2×2 into 2×4 screws|
|4 – 8″ bolts + accompanying hardware|
|2 Hammock Tree Hooks|
Dimensions: Hanging Distance: 14’6″, to bottom of 2×6: 6’9″ (headroom), total height of structure: 7’10”
DIY Hammock Stand Pergola – Front View
Step 1: Placement
The foundation of this project rests upon two 10 ft 4×4 wooden posts. Your hammock will hang between these posts, so keep that in mind as you consider where to begin this project. We chose an area near enough to the tree line of our yard to enjoy ample shade in the late afternoon and evening — when our hammock is most likely to be in use. Additionally, consider the view you’ll have from the hammock when laying down. Remember that hammocks are symmetrical, and you may lay in one facing either of your support poles.
The 4×4 posts will stand about 14.5 ft apart, closely mirroring the length of a standard hammock stand built for a 13 ft hammock. Standard hammocks generally have 12 inches of chain to allow for some adjustment in order to attain the most comfortable hanging height and hammock bed tension. The rings of the hammock should also be hung about 3 feet 7 inches off of the ground (mirroring the hanging height of popular hammock stands).
The 16ft long 2×6 boards will attach on opposite sides of each post (with about 6 inches of overhang) in order to create the classic pergola look. Keep in mind that 4x4s run smaller than their stated dimensions — the only measurement from the hardware store that should prove 100% accurate is the lumber length. The actual thickness of these lumber posts is something like 3.5×3.5 in. As long as your hanging distance is in the ballpark of 14.5 feet and you maintain symmetry on the overhang of the 2×6 cross boards, you’ll be in good shape.
Once you have determined your 4×4 post placements, you’re ready to dig the holes into which they will be mounted with concrete. These holes should be about 1 ft wide and 3 ft deep. This maximizes safety and stability while still providing plenty of headroom (the lattice atop the pergola will still be 7 ft from the ground).
Step 2: Prepping the Pergola Frame
Fit the top edge of both the 4×4 and each 2×6 flush, and allow the 2×6 cross pieces six inches of horizontal overhang beyond each 4×4. Make sure the 2×6’s are square with the 4×4’s before any holes are drilled. Mount these 2×6 pieces with two six inch hex bolts per side. We’ll pre-drill the holes for these bolts to pass through at two points at upper and lower center of the 2×6. They’ll be cinched off on the other end of both 2×6 and the intervening 4×4 with a hex nut. Tighten these until secure with a wrench or ratchet.
To ensure a precise fit and symmetrical look, we’ll attach the 16 ft 2×6 cross pieces on either side of the 4×4 posts before mounting the posts in the ground.
After we mount the posts in concrete (with the 2x6s attached), we’ll take the 2x6s down in order to saw a diagonal cut on either end of each 2×6. This softens the appearance of the pergola ends. An aesthetic cut on the edges of each trellis is a trademark of traditional pergolas. But first, we want to go ahead and mount our posts at a level height. (If you want to go ahead and cut your edges first, refer to step four. We didn’t want to do any woodcutting on the first day, so we mounted our posts first.)
Step 3: Mounting the Frame in the Ground
With holes dug and the cross pieces firmly attached, we’re ready to begin mounting the the 4x4s in the ground.
Use a level on top of the middle of one of the 2×6 cross pieces first to ensure that the bottom of your holes are either level, or properly compensate for land on a slight or severe grade. You’ll want the level to be showing dead center on those cross pieces to ensure a straight and neat looking finished product.
The inside corners should be 90 degrees at four points: where the 4x4s meet the 2x6s, and where the 4x4s enter the ground. You’ll also want to use the level to ensure that both 4x4s are pointing straight up out of the ground.
The eye test is also worth doing before any concrete comes out.
Once we’ve found a level position for our pergola, we need to make certain it stays put during the concrete pour and while it sets. We used our stepladder and one of our sturdy DuraWood Adirondack chairs to brace the structure on opposite sides, ensuring it stays level until the posts are firmly fixed in place.
We purchased three eighty pound bags of concrete for this project, and we ended up needing to purchase a fourth in order to fully fill the 3 ft deep holes. We’ll fill in our hole up to about 2-3 inches from ground level to maximize stability, but also to allow dirt to be filled in above the concrete for aesthetic purposes. Let the concrete set before filling in the dirt. Mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow prior to filling it into the hole, ensuring that it becomes thoroughly moistened.
Mix with a shovel as you add water with a hose. Ideally, the concrete should be wet through and through, and you can begin to add more concrete into the mixture in the wheelbarrow as water begins to puddle there. Well-stirred and moistened concrete may begin to be shoveled into both post holes.
Allow a day for the concrete to set prior to continuing work on the frame of the pergola.
Step 4: Add a Decorative Cut to Your 2×6 Boards
Your concrete has set. The pergola 4x4s are vertically level, and the 2x6s, horizontally level. They meet at 90 degree angles on either side of your pergola hammock stand. Now, it’s time to begin the carpentry work that will give your pergola hammock stand its aesthetic appeal.
Start by unscrewing the bolts that attach the 2x6s to the 4×4, and bring them down.
Ideally, you should set them upon two sawhorses. Grab a measuring tape and pencil. You’ll need to mark two points on matching corners at the edge of both 2×6. We marked four inches away from each bottom corner, then traced between them to mark the diagonal cuts we planned to make:
Once you have finished making the decorative cuts on both sides, you’ll reattach the 2×6 beams to the 4x4s, this time taking care to tighten the bolts securely with a ratchet and wrench (remember, the bolts should be at least 3/8 in. thick).
Step 5: Attaching the 2×4 Cross Pieces (16 boards in total)
The next pieces of lumber we’ll be working with are the 3 ft lengths of 2×4 board. We’ll need to cut our three 12 ft long 2x4s into sixteen 3 ft sections. We’ll measure and mark these intervals before doing any cutting (again using our skillsaw). This is a lot of cutting, and if you decide to do this yourself instead of having it done at the hardware store, take occasional breaks, and don’t try to cut every board in one go. Fatigue makes for imperfect cuts, and you’ll want these sections to be as uniform as possible.
We’ll be mounting the cross pieces perpendicularly to the 2x6s at intervals of 1 ft, with 6 inches of space from the ends of each 2×6. Before we attach the 2x4s to the pergola, we’ll need to make a 45 degree angled cut on each end for aesthetic purposes. These cuts complement the angle cuts on the ends of the 2x6s very well. This time, we’ll mark two points two inches away from the top corner of each edge of the 3 ft long 2×3 boards.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN DRILLING: To ensure these boards are fitted uniformly along the top of the 2×6 beams, you’ll need to take two sets of measurements. First, you should determine the distance between the outer edges of your 2x6s. Don’t assume it’s simply 4 in + 4 in = 8 in, because the stated dimensions of the 4×4 and 2x6s are often inaccurate.
Also, measure at several points along the 2x6s, because you may discover that the beams bow inwardly at the center, as we did. To correct this, we added a temporary brace to force the two 2x6s out to a uniform width all the way down:
Once the distance between the outside edges of both 2×6 is consistent, you can subtract that length from 3 ft and divide by two. That is the length of 2×4 that should be hanging off either side of the 2x6s. Be sure to measure BOTH overhangs to ensure symmetry. Mark the 2x4s to show where the two 2×6 beams should rest underneath. This will ensure your 2x4s are centered over the 2x6s, and provides a guide to show you where you will be drilling pilot holes on the 2x4s through which you’ll be attaching your fasteners.
After you do this, measure even intervals along the 2x6s to evenly space out each 2×4. In this project, we placed the first 2x4s six inches from the edge of the 2x6s, and then placed them along the top at 1 ft intervals. You will want to mark these intervals on the 2x6s.
Next, you’ll want to use your 1/8 in drill bit to drill pilot holes in the center of the marked area showing where the 2x4s will rest upon the 2x6s. We’ll be using six inch heavy duty flathead fasteners to secure these 2x4s to the 2x6s, and you’ll want to make it as easy as possible to screw them straight down through both pieces of lumber.
We’ll use our long carpentry screws and come straight down on these boards to mount them atop the 2×6 cross pieces. You’ll need a ladder to complete this step once the pergola has already been mounted on concrete, but it is pretty easy to do with an 8 ft ladder — just make sure you come down right on top of each board and screw straight, to avoid coming out of your 2×4 before entering the 2×6. The pilot holes you drilled should make this fairly easy. Make sure your boards are placed at the proper interval, and have the desired overhang on either side of the 2×6.
Remember: With an interval of 1 ft between each 2×4, you’ll need sixteen 3 ft long 2x4s. There will be six inches between the outermost 2x4s and the ends of the 2x6s.
Step 6: Fitting the Final Top Beams (six 2×3 boards)
The final six 2×3 boards we’ll be using sit atop the 2×4 pieces in pairs along three rows. These are 2×3 boards 8 ft in length, so we’ll need to use two end to end in order to reach each perpendicularly placed 2×4 board. In addition to providing shade, these boards help to stabilize the entire structure.
We considered placing these 2x3s vertically first, and tested it out by placing them that way atop our Pergola structure. Building the lattice section of the structure on already mounted posts allows you to try things out by simply setting boards in place atop the 2x6s, and stepping back for a look at the result. We ultimately decided not to go with this look:
Instead, we went with this look:
We’ll first mark where each board should go. Ideally, the center 2x3s should be equidistant from the ends of every 2×4, running dead center through each one. We decided to run the outer 2x3s 4 inches away from the edge of either side of the 2x4s. Measure early and often, and don’t assume your 2x3s are dead straight. If they’ve warped significantly, you may have to exchange them for straighter pieces.
Then we’ll put the first 2×3 board down the middle of the pergola, and then use a level or other straight edge to ensure the outer end of the 2×3 extends exactly as far as the 2x6s.
Then we will screw the 2×3 into the outermost 2x4s and one near the center for stability. Make sure to measure each time you employ a fastener, to ensure that at each point the 2×3 is an equal distance from the edge of the 2x4s. Our 2x3s were not perfectly straight, which caused some of the 2x3s to look slightly crooked when looking at them from above. But it’s not something that’s at all noticeable unless you’re looking down at the structure from a ladder.
Next, put another 8 ft 2×3 end to end with the first 8 ft 2×3 that was just placed. Line it up and make sure it is flush and in line with the first board and screw it into place using three more screws. The outer boards are up next. We decided to put the outer 2x3s two-thirds of the way out on each side of the 2x4s to ensure a clean, uncluttered look, but the exact dimensions are up to you. Repeat the steps from the middle boards on the outer boards, finishing the pergola structure.
Step 7: Staining the Pergola Stand Frame
You’ll first want to sand down any rough edges around your pergola. Chances are, during all that hard work cutting, you probably made a few rough cuts that will take some sandpaper to smooth out. We sure did!
Since you’ve already got the sandpaper out, now is a good time to drill the holes for the hook upon which your hammock will hang. We used this handy guide from Hatteras Hammocks to help us determine that for our hanging distance (14.5 ft), it would be best to position our hooks 4 ft above ground level. This mirrors the proportions of Hatteras Hammocks’ popular line of Tri-Beam Hammock Stands.
We’re using the tree hooks below to hang our hammock. These are superior to comparable hardware store eye bolts: they’re zinc plated for additional corrosion resistance outdoors. You can purchase a pair of them here, but note that they also come free along with most of DFOhome’s hammock collection.
Use the sandpaper to smooth the edges of the holes you drill for your hanging hooks, then you’re ready to begin staining:
Once you’ve covered every nook and cranny of your new pergola hammock stand with your favorite stain, allow it 24 hours to dry. Keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure that it won’t be raining for at least that long after you finish staining.
Here’s how our wet stain looked right after we applied it. It was a little darker than we had expected:
To lighten up the stain and show a bit more of the pergola’s wood grain, we used some paint stripper and sandpaper to remove some of the stain, creating a look reminiscent of an old shore side pier.
The Video Guide will be out soon!