Using Arbors and Pergolas in Landscape Design

Feb 11 09:30 2009 Ellen Bell Print This Article

If you're looking for a way to add interest and character to your garden or backyard, an arbor or pergola might be just the thing you need.  In this article, we'll discuss various types of arbors and pergolas and how they can be used to enhance your overall landscape design.

Arbors and pergolas are two types of garden structures that can greatly contribute to the overall design of your landscape.  Arbors and pergolas add an element of interest to a yard or garden by drawing the eye upward.  Whether functional or ornamental,Guest Posting there are many ways you can utilize these structures to enhance your landscape design.

Like many gardeners, you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between an arbor and a pergola?  While there isn't a clear consensus on this, generally an arbor is a smaller structure with an arched top, usually standing 6 1/2 to 9 feet tall at the peak.  Arbors are often placed over walkways or a gate in a fence.  A pergola, on the other hand, has a flat top that is directly perpendicular to the straight sides it rests on.  Pergolas can range in size from small enough to just cover a walkway to large enough to span a deck or patio area.

Arbors and pergolas can be either functional or purely ornamental.  If using an arbor for a functional purpose, consider adding a bench or swing to create a cozy nook for sitting and enjoying your garden.  Large pergolas can be used as an overhead cover for a deck or patio.  While the top of the pergola will probably not keep out rainwater, it can be designed to cast much needed shade on your outdoor seating area.  Arbors and pergolas with lattice sides and tops can also provide a supporting structure for vines and climbing plants.  Consider planting a climber like clematis, honeysuckle, or trumpet vine at the base of your arbor or pergola to create a beautiful floral focal point in your landscape.

Materials for arbors and pergolas vary greatly and can include wood, vinyl, or metal.  To determine what is best for you, carefully consider the pros and cons of each material type in conjunction with your situation and needs.  Wood lends a natural and sometimes rustic look to an arbor or pergola, and can be painted or stained to easily change its appearance down the road.  Wood is usually the most cost effective option; however, it won't last as long as metal or vinyl.  Some concerns with wood structures include rotting, splintering, and decay caused by wood boring pests.

Vinyl, on the other hand, is a great maintenance free option that won't require painting or staining.  Vinyl is also resistant to rot and decay, and will last much longer than wood.  Vinyl typically costs more than wood, but the longevity of the product may pay off in the long run.  If you decide to go with a vinyl unit, be sure to look for a UV resistant plastic that won't fade or discolor when exposed to the sun.

Metal can also be a good material choice because it's very durable and long lasting.  Carefully consider the type of metal, though.  Iron and steel will rust, which may or may not be desirable, depending on the look you want.  Aluminum is a good rust free metal that is lightweight and still very strong.  If you want the look of painted metal, select a product with a powder coat paint finish for durability.

Arbors and pergolas can be designed and constructed on your own, or they can easily be purchased as completed units or ready to assemble DIY kits.  If you decide to purchase a kit, you may find that online specialty stores and mail order catalogs have a better selection than your local garden center or nursery.  If you decide that an arbor or pergola isn't the right element for your landscape design, you might want to consider other types of structures such as trellises, gazebos, or lath houses.

Whatever you decide, garden structures are a great way to add a focal point to your landscape.  They will enhance your garden's aesthetics and add a vertical element to spaces that are usually constructed on horizontal planes.  Arbors and pergolas in particular can take a simple garden design and turn it into a graceful and beautiful area to be admired and appreciated.

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Ellen Bell
Ellen Bell

Home Products 'n' More offers pergola kits for building your own wood, metal, or vinyl pergola.  Get free shipping on all arbor and pergola designs!

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