Garden Arbors: Your Gateway to Zen
From simple, traditional archway arbor kits to custom vine-covered sanctuaries, the wide range of arbor options available makes them the perfect way to create a unique outdoor space to clear your mind.
Marrying Form and Function
Combining form and function is one of the keys to crafting your Zen gateway. To get the most out of your arbor, begin by identifying the purpose you’d like it to serve.
If you’re planning a decorative arbor to commemorate a special occasion, your design will be quite different than if you’re creating secluded, shady corner for gardening. The more you visualize how you’ll be using your arbor, the easier it’ll be to construct what you have in mind.
Below are some common uses for arbors:
- Traditional archway. The most common arbor is a traditional archway. Usually built as a stand-alone garden structure, an archway helps focus attention to a particular part of your yard and is primarily decorative in nature.
- Fence gateway. Installing an arbor between sections of a fence is a great way to communicate a different sense of place, or a transition from one area to another. Building an arbor gateway at the end of your fence can go a long way toward making a yard feel like a castle.
- Reading corner. Constructing a slightly wider arbor and installing a bench can create a great place to enjoy the sunshine. You can relax in the shade with a good book, enjoy the fresh air while keeping an eye on your pets, or watch the sun set from a cozy vantage point. Building this kind of arbor is a simple way to create a highly versatile outdoor living space.
- Vine-covered tunnel. For a stunning addition to your yard, stack several standalone arbors back to back to create an arbor tunnel. Weave vines, wisteria, or other plants through the latticework and watch as your arbor is transformed into a magical passageway. Crafting an arbor tunnel is a more time-consuming process than installing a conventional arbor, but the payoff is more than worth it.
Which Material to Use?
There are quite a few options for building materials when planning an arbor.
Wood: Most arbors are constructed using wood, which can be easily shaped into custom designs for added flair. Wood arbors are durable, great for the environment, and complement natural landscaping. You can protect your wood arbor’s natural finish for years with a stain or sealant.
Vinyl: Vinyl arbors are another popular choice. A vinyl arbor requires little maintenance and is easy to clean, plus it has nearly all the benefits of wood. Vinyl arbors are more weather resistant than some commonly used wood materials. For extra protection against the sun, select a vinyl material treated with UV inhibitors to keep the color bold and bright.
Aluminum: Like vinyl, an aluminum arbor is low maintenance. Most aluminum materials are treated with a powder coating to resist rust, no matter the weather. Consider aluminum for a classic look that complements any fence, garden or home.
Letting Your Arbor Reflect You
Now that you’ve got the design and material picked out, there’s one last step before it’s time to build. Customizing your arbor with a personal touch is a great way to enhance your connection to it, increasing the sense of calm you’ll feel. The immense flexibility of arbors means there are limitless ways to add distinguishing touches.
- Plants and Vines. Nothing makes an arbor look better than a carefully cultivated vine curled around the latticework. If you’re thinking of incorporating plant life into your arbor project, consider your options early. For example, smaller vines and plants will require smaller trellis holds to latch on to, while thicker ones will need larger spaces to grow through properly. Consider the entirety of the plant, as well—heavier plants such as roses will require a stronger foundation and may benefit from a strong wood arbor construction as opposed to vinyl.
- Shade. Will your arbor be an airy passageway, or a shaded hideaway? To craft the kind of shade coverage you have in mind, consider growing thin vines up the sides or hanging other plants from the support beams. If you prefer the checkered shadows that latticework creates, incorporate that element into your design before you start building.
- Ornamental Shapes. If you’re building an arbor with a flat top, you can carve matching shapes into the arch ends for an extra touch of individuality. It may be a minor detail, but personalized nuances such as these can go a long way toward making your arbor a one-of-a-kind structure.
Arbors have a special place among home improvement projects. Considering how simple they are to put together, a well-placed arbor can work wonders by adding beauty, tranquility and elegance to any home.