How do I Build an Arbor?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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An arbor is a garden accessory that can also serve as a useful tool, giving support to climbing plants. This picturesque addition can give a touch of charm to any garden, either as an entrance or even a shady sitting spot.It may take only a few hours to build an arbor, but can give years of pleasure and beauty to a backyard or garden.

An arbor is essentially an outdoor doorway that can be as basic as three planks nailed together and secured in the ground. For people that are accomplished woodworkers, a garden archway can be filled with details, like lattices or hand-carved borders. A variety of plans for building an arbor are easily available online. Many of these plans are free to download and can be tailored to fit all skill levels.

Materials needed to build an arbor will include wood and basic tools such as saws and hammers. For the more advanced versions, circular saws and other power tools may be necessary. Be sure to study all instruction manuals carefully, and consider switching to a simpler building plan if the tools required look too complicated.


If a gardener intends to build an arbor as a structure to hold plants, weight must be considered. Because the structure will need to hold the weight of the fully grown plants, be sure to find out how large the plant will grow and how heavy it will become with age. This knowledge can help determine what kind of wood and building materials are necessary to the project. If the lovely finished structure collapses once the plants reach full growth, both the plants and the arbor will likely be impossible to save.

Climbing plants add charm and beauty to any part of a garden, and often feature easy care instructions. Look for roses, ivy, lovely purple wisteria, or even grapes. Plants that offer a leafy canopy as well as blossoms or fruit can give shade as well, giving a lovely canopy for a bench or picnic table. Once plants reach full growth, trim to add refinement and keep the total weight down.

The decision to build an arbor can lead to new possibilities for a garden, either as a temporary or permanent structure. By adding a gate, you can make the structure a welcoming centerpiece of a front yard fence that any guest will love to enter. For weddings or other events, the archway can serve as a perfect frame for photographs. For warmer climates, arbors can serve as a welcome retreat from the heat, giving residents a shady place to read, rest or sip iced tea.

Getting children to help build an arbor can be a fun way to involve them in the garden. Although keeping them away from power tools is recommended, the simple structure can serve as an introduction to woodworking and proper use of tools. Let children help choose the plants to grow, or help by digging post-holes for the bottom of the structure. By instilling a love of gardening and crafts in a child, older friends or relatives can give them a hobby that will last a lifetime.


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