Garden Arbor Styles, Types, Materials, and Finishes

Posted in Garden Arbors

There are several different types of garden structures to pick from – arbors, arches, pergolas, gazebos, and trellises. There is some difference but the distinctions between the structure types is often blurred.

wooden garden pergola Pergolas and gazebos are generally larger structures and trellises are typically flat and require attachment to another structure.


Your choices are many with several classic styles and various modern designs available. And an unlimited number of custom designs are an option too for the wedding planner who likes total control over all the wedding details

The arbor is often formed with a curved arch at the top but flat or slightly curved tops are also common. Some arbors come with planters built into the base to hold potted plants for temporary installations such as outdoor weddings but can then be used to hold seasonal flowers in permanent settings.

If you are planning on reusing the arbor in your garden permanently you can always add on planters afterwards. Your vines or shrubs may be happier with their roots in the ground depending on your climate and watering habits.

There is a wide range of standard sizes to choose from and custom structures can be built to any size. A common size is approximately 4 ft wide x 2 ft deep x 8 ft high – perfect for your wedding or as an entry to a garden path.

You have choice of materials – woods, metals, or plastics. The wooden variations can be made of cedar, redwood, or pressure treated pine. Lower cost untreated wood is an option if the arbor will be used indoors only. The options for metal frameworks includes steel, iron, and copper. In the man-made material category, plastics such as vinyl, PVC, and a blend of PVC and wood are available.
cedar lattice screen trellisThe type of finish available will depend on the material used to build the structure. Latex or oil based paints can be applied to wooden or metal frameworks. Clear coatings or stains are also good for wooden arbors and come in many different tints.

You can match the paint or stains to the building or other landscape features. This is often done if the wedding arbor is destined to be used in the home garden after the outdoor wedding reception. Iron arbors are painted or powder coated to deter rust.

White is the most common color of wedding arches, arbors, gazebos, and other backdrops. Green paint, stain, or coating is more likely to be used for structures destined to be used as permanent garden focal points. Natural finishes are best for cedar, redwood, and copper materials.

All three will weather to attractive, warm colors, with the greenish patina of copper being especially beautiful and timeless. The newer vinyl or weather-resistant PVC materials and combination recycled materials have the pigment built right in. This makes them a good low maintenance option and popular choice for many outdoor wedding planners.

A wide range of arbors are available as easy-to-assemble kits. In just an hour or two with a few tools such as a cordless drill, hammer, screwdriver, tape measure, and level anyone can build a beautiful garden arbor. Many come prefinished and some like the vinyl are very low maintenance.

So you can see that you have a number of choices when planning you wedding site details. It’s difficult to make a bad choice as the basic design of arbors are attractive and any plant material that you add just enhances the beauty. Don’t worry, just have fun picking out what you like.

Getting a Garden Structure
You will find trellises in front and back yards in gardens of all kinds and against walls and buildings to help tame the mass of vines in the garden.

Looking for an Outdoor Structure
Enhance your landscape. You can’t go wrong with pergolas or arbors in your garden.

Arbors and Pergolas
Arbors are often made of rustic work or latticework, which serves as a trellis on which climbers may grow or on which creepers may be trained. “Pergola” is more difficult to define but are typically larger.

Personalizing Your Front Yard
Add the finishing touches to your landscape with some climbing vines and trellis.