3 Expert Tips To Choose An Arbor

Arbors are a great addition to any garden - they act as the focal point of the space and can provide structural support for various plants. Choosing one that works for you will take some searching, but there really is some room for you to add your personal style. 

Here are some expert tips to help you out when shopping around for your dream arbor!

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What size should my arbor be?

This will probably be the first question on your mind when starting to look for an arbor. It's really important to get the right size, or you'll throw off the balance of your outdoor space - an arbor that's too small will be very underwhelming, while one that's too large may become a nuisance to maintain.

  • First, choose the area of your garden where you want to place the arbor. Aim for a spot along a path, or near the entrance to the space.

  • Measure out roughly how much clearance you have both vertically and horizontally. Pay especially close attention to any low-hanging branches that may interfere with the arbor!

  • Consider exactly what you want the arbor for. If you just want something for your plants to sit on, consider a smaller arbor. If you want to make a great impression on guests and love a little drama, go for a bigger one.

  • Arbors can range from 42 inches up to an impressive 122 inches in width, and are usually between 7 feet and 8 feet tall.

What material should my arbor be made of?

Since you'll be keeping your arbor outdoors for at least a couple years, you'll want something durable that ages well. There are 3 main materials used to make arbors, each with their pros and cons.

Want something rustic? => Wood

  • The natural and rustic appearance of wooden arbors complements outdoor spaces incredibly well by creating a welcoming atmosphere.
  • While all wood types do usually suffer from some weather-related wear, certain wood types can withstand the environment better than others, like teak or cedar. 
  • Make sure to thoroughly research the type of wood you settle for to ensure you know all about the upkeep needed.
Yellow Fir Wood Freestanding Arbor
Gray Spruce Wood Arbor With Bench
Dove Gray Spruce Wood Arbor
Brown Fir Wood Freestanding Arbor
Black Spruce Wood Freestanding Arbor
Western Red Cedar Wood Arched Arbor

Need something that will last you decades? => Metal

  • Metal arbors are relatively easy to care for and can withstand the elements pretty well.
  • With time and exposure, the metal will probably develop a soft green patina, but we think that just adds some natural allure! 
  • When it comes to design, metal arbors are usually quite simple, leaving you with a lot of creative freedom to display your plants.
  • Make sure your metal arbor is sturdy - some are made a bit too thin and flimsy, meaning that they will almost definitely fall over with a bigger gust of wind.
Aubergine Steel Modern Freestanding Arbor
Burnished Gunmetal Iron Arbor With Gate
Rustic Black Metal Freestanding Arbor
Black Metal Arbor With Gate
Elegant Black Steel Freestanding Arbor
Rustic Brown Iron Arbor With Bench

Prefer something contemporary? => Vinyl

  • Vinyl arbors are best suited for areas that experience extreme weather - they're able to withstand both freezing temperatures and scorching heat.
  • These arbors won't patina like metal, nor will they splinter or fade like wood.
  • Some vinyl arbors are made to replicate more natural materials, but on closer inspection seem to lack that rustic charm.
  • Also, vinyl arbors can sometimes be much more expensive than wooden or metal ones since they are a relatively new design.
White Vinyl PVC Pergola Arbor
White Vinyl PVC Arched Arbor
Brown Composite Vinyl Pergola Arbor
White Vinyl Arbor With Planter
Classic White Vinyl PVC Pergola Arbor
Brown Vinyl Rustic Arched Arbor

Want a seamless and natural look? => Vines and stones

  • This style of arbor can give your garden a sort of fairy-tale appearance.
  • The arbors are mostly made up of completely natural stones, vines, or hedges that have been specially shaped to fit their new role.
  • They provide some great shade in the outdoor space and often have a little bench underneath them for guests to rest on.
  • Some natural arbors do have some sort of wire or wooden beam supporting them, but they are still mainly made up of foliage.
  • Many people consider this style of arbor to be a unique variation of a topiary, since it can be considered a landscaped structure.
  • These natural arbors are very popular in large, paved gardens, and you'll often find multiple arches lining a whole path.
Black Steel Vines Pergola Arbor
Black Steel Gothic Rose Arbor
White Metal Vines Arch Arbor
Hexagonal Wrought Iron Arch Frame
Antique Black Metal Arbor With Bench
Durable Steel Garden Arbor For Climbing Plants

What style of arbor will suit me best?

Once you decide on the size and material of your arbor, you can start looking around at the different styles available. Not every style can be easily made from all 3 materials mentioned above, so choose carefully!

Want a traditional arbor? => Arched

  • This is the style you probably picture in your head when someone mentions arbors.
  • As you may have guessed from the name, these arbors are distinguished by their arched tops.
  • They're most often used to mark the entrance and exit points in the garden and are usually small to medium in size.
  • Metal is the most popular material for arched arbors as it's very easy to craft it into a flowing arch shape.
  • Vinyl is a great material for arched arbors too, but it isn't commonly used, while wood is rarely used because of how difficult it can be to craft.
  • Natural arbors are also often arched as it is the easiest shape to achieve when working with plants or stones.
Black Steel Arched Arbor With Bench
Metal Freestanding Arched Arbor With Gate
Black Steel Gothic Arched Arbor
Brown Wood Arched Arbor With Bench
White Vinyl Freestanding Arched Arbor
Antique Iron Arched Arbor With Planters

Want something unique? => Gabled

  • Gabled arbors make use of a pitched roof design, similar to that of a traditional cottage.
  • These arbors are often paired with small benches and are placed strategically throughout the outdoor space to provide your guests with a shady place to sit.
  • They are most commonly made out of wood, and sometimes incorporate brick or tile into the roof element.
Black Steel Gable Arbor With Bench
Boat Spruce Wood Gable Arbor
Cedar Wood Gable Arbor With Lattice Sides
Black Steel Freestanding Gothic Arbor
Green Metal X Shaped Gothic Arbor
Brown Iron Gothic Arbor With Gate

Want an impressive structure? => Traditional

  • Most traditional arbors are rectangular in shape, with a flat top to contrast the plants climbing up them.
  • They are distinguished by their open frameworks that often include lattices.
  • These arbors are often quite massive and look very impressive both from afar and up close.
  • Like gabled arbors, they are usually made out of wood, but can also sometimes be found in vinyl.
  • Traditional arbors are usually the sturdiest type because of their size and weight, but may also come with a hefty price tag!
Natural Cedar Wood Traditional Arbor With Bench
White Traditional Vinyl Pergola Arbor
White Vinyl PVC Traditional Arbor
Traditional Fir Wood Freestanding Arbor
Traditional Brown Manufactured Wood Arbor
Traditional Wood Arbor With Bench And Planter

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.