Popular Arbor Varieties – Learn About Different Garden Arbor Styles

White Garden Arbor
(Image credit: Elenathewise)

Different types of arbors decorate various landscapes. Arbor varieties these days are often a combination of arches, pergolas, and even trellises used in combinations appropriate to the situation. The uses and settings of arbor designs for gardens can be different from one place to the next and simple or complex. Many are used as entrances to a garden or wooded area developed for enjoyment. Some use an arbor as an exit from one area of the garden to another. The most charming arbor entrances often lead down a secret garden path. Read on to learn about various kinds of arbors and their uses.

Arbor Designs for Gardens

Perhaps you wish to develop your outdoor living space as you beautify the garden landscape. Add a pergola, gazebo, arbor or a combination. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Adding complementary hardscape features will make yours a unique landscaping design experience. Arbors usually have walls and a roof that is open. The sides and top are sometimes attractively carved but leave room for a climbing plant to reach the top. Lattice, for example, is commonly used on the sides and top of arbors. Thin strips of wood with crisscross patterns are decorative and allow for vines to grab onto the surface as they creep upward. Climbing roses, moonflowers, and cypress vines are good specimens to use. Avoid perennial ivy that becomes heavy and is difficult to remove. The weight may be too much for delicate lattice work and these are often invasive.

  • Gabled: A pitched roof design, much like the pointed roof on some houses. These can be assembled from wooden or metal materials or you can get creative and make it from bricks or blocks. Many pre-made arbors are readily available.
  • Formal: This type has clean lines with well-manicured plantings nearby.
  • Arched: Typical arbors are arched on top but may have a flat covering.
  • Traditional: Arched on top, sometimes with a flat roof built in. Often includes a trellis.
  • Natural: Provided by a natural element in the landscape, such as a rock formation, tree branches, or similar materials worked into an arching design.

The University of Florida says an arbor is a place of shade and usually has sheltered seating, such as a bench. In more developed landscapes, an arbor is used as a vine-covered entrance or focal point located within the garden. Keep in mind, you’re not limited to just one arbor in your garden. Arbors have been used in gardens for centuries, possibly beginning with the Romans. Add one (or more) in your modern-day garden, using any combination of these types and features. You may find you’re drawn to it and use your landscape more often.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.