People sometimes use the terms arbor and pergola interchangeably, because they refer to very similar structures. An arbor typically includes a seat under the arch, while a pergola is more of a covered walkway. Whatever word you use, any garden decor store will know what you mean.
Arbors and pergolas serve a number of useful functions in the yard or garden. A striking garden arbor can provide a focal point in your landscaping, drawing the eye in that direction. Similarly, it can be used to visually separate or connect parts of your property.
Arbors are often used as support for growing plants and vines. Although you don't have to grow plants on your arbor, flowering vines that gently cascade over the structure add wonderful color and life to this bit of garden decor. Landscaping looks best when it contains plants, flowers, and grasses at a variety of heights, and the arbor can create a sense of height and visual interest to achieve a more balanced scene.
A strategically placed arbor can hide an unsightly view like the garage next door. Or it can give you a little privacy from your neighbors' eyes. Most of all, an arbor or pergola offers a attractive, restful spot for you to sit and enjoy nature's sweetness.
Wood, metal, and vinyl are the most common materials for garden arbors. Each material has its own personality.
Wooden arbors, usually made from cedar, are traditional and natural-looking, blending in with nature's bounty. They inspire a sense of nostalgia and remind us of a simpler time.
Metal arbors are sturdy but can appear delicate and airy. Shaped in intricate designs, some metal arbors are works of art in themselves.
Vinyl arbors have a fresh, clean look that many homeowners find appealing. This type of arbor will give you the appearance of newly painted wood, but without the effort. A vinyl arbor is sometimes used as a charming backdrop for an outdoor garden wedding.
For someone experience in building things, an arbor will take several hours to set up. If you don't have the time or prefer not to do it yourself, you can buy the kit and hire a local handy person to put it up for you.
If you want to grow plants around your arbor, you have many kinds to choose from. Some lovely flowering vine varieties are annuals that will have to be replanted each year. Perennials growing over your arbor will need to be trimmed occasionally.
Colorful climbing roses are a popular choice for arbors, because many are fragrant and have repeat blooms from spring through the summer. Morning glories are another favorite. These plants have large bell-like flowers that can be found in almost any color, from white to pink to blue to purple.
Honeysuckle is an easy flowering vine to cultivate. It grows quickly and will put out blooms from late spring through the summer. Wisteria produces an abundance of delicate blossoms in the spring, ranging from white to purple. Other good choices include trumpet vines, cypress or star glory vines, moon flowers, and climbing sweet peas. For a simple effect, use English ivy to cover your arbor in a verdant green.
Some of these plants can be trained to grow around the open slats of the arbor, while others will need to be fastened. Consult your local garden nursery to find the best plants to suit your growing zone and your particular aesthetic tastes.