Ideas for Arbors

Arbors or pergolas, structural garden elements that support an open-framed roof, add height, texture and visual interest to yards and patios, as well as provide practical elements of shade and privacy. Arbors fit into various landscaping and home styles such as Asian design, cottage gardens, and formal or contemporary spaces. Use salvage materials to construct low-cost arbors or choose any number of factory-made kits and plans from garden centers to create the desired look, but consider the overall size and scale to create an overall harmonious landscape.


Place an arbor near the home, either as an addition to the front gate, or closer to the home, in front of an inviting porch. Choose climbing plants that won't require constant pruning since this type of arbor placement is usually a heavy traffic area. Fragrant flowering species add pleasant aroma, and prolific bloomers quickly add a punch of color to otherwise drab areas. Entryway arbor size, in particular, should complement the size of the dwelling and landscape, and blend well with the home style.

Create an Outdoor Room

Arbors provide shelter from the sun without blocking out too much light, and also provide privacy in small landscapes. Extend patio borders with an arbor and grow ornamental plants for an enjoyable and functional privacy screen. Large arbors, or multiple arbors used together, create a garden hideaway when paired with a bench and lush vegetation. The best arbor placement is not necessarily near the house. Locate an arbor seating area away from noise and commotion for a relaxing spot to unwind.

Flowering Plants

Climbing roses (Rosa species and hybrids), Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea species), Clematis (Clematis species), black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) and honeysuckle are common arbor plants. Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is less a rampant grower than Japanese Honeysuckle (lonicera japonica), and it attracts hummingbirds, but it is not a fragrant species. Bougainvillea has a rampant nature and required room to grow. An almost endless selection of roses exist, bred for color, size and varying scents.


Use an arbor to grow an edible crop of fruit. Depending on the climate, various grape species are well-suited to home arbors. Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta) and subtropical passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) are other climbing fruits. Consult your local county extension agent for ideas about fruiting climbers suitable in your area and visit reputable garden centers and nurseries and select healthy specimens.

Keywords: arbor ideas, landscaping, arbors and pergolas

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."