How to Make An Arbor


Man-made structures, like arbors, arches, pergolas or garden sheds, add visual interest and structure to a backyard landscape, making the backyard plants more interesting and attractive. Arbors also provide shade, space for entertaining or relaxing and privacy, especially when climbing vines cover the sides and top. Homeowners use a variety of materials for arches and arbors, such as treated wood, PVC pipe, found limbs and branches and iron. For this arbor, choose cedar, redwood or any other lumber of your choosing, and plan the dimensions of the arbor before going to the lumberyard.

Step 1

Figure the dimensions of the arbor. According to "Sunset Garden and Patio Building Book," the minimum height should be 8 feet above ground with posts 3 feet below ground. To obtain the optimum length and width of the arbor, actually position a table and chairs or bench in the desired location and measure the ideal dimensions.

Step 2

Cut the posts to the desired height and the rafters to the desired length.

Step 3

Dig four post holes and fill them three quarters full with concrete mixed according to the directions on the package.

Step 4

Place the concrete piers 3 to 4 inches above the grade of the soil in the holes filled with concrete.

Step 5

Place the posts in the concrete piers and check to ensure that each post is completely vertical.

Step 6

Finish filling the holes with concrete.

Step 7

Secure the posts with temporary braces by nailing them to wooden stakes.

Step 8

Let the concrete mixture harden for 24 hours before completing the arbor.

Step 9

Place a beam on top of two posts. Ensure that the beam and the posts are level.

Step 10

Drill a 7/16-inch hole 9 inches down through the beam into the posts. Insert a 10-inch lag bolt into the hole.

Step 11

Repeat the installation process for the second beam.

Step 12

Set the rafters on top of the beams, spacing them approximately 4 to 6 inches apart.

Step 13

Drill 6-inch-deep holes with a 7/16-inch bit through the rafters into the beams. Insert 7-inch lag bolts in each hole.

Step 14

Stain or paint as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Measuring tape
  • 4 posts, 6 by 6 inches
  • Post hole digger
  • 4 concrete piers with post base
  • Concrete mix
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • 8 wooden stakes
  • 8 wood braces, 2 by 2 inches, 3 feet long
  • Galvanized nails
  • Hammer
  • 2 beams, 6 by 6 inches
  • Drill
  • 4 lag bolts with washers, ½ by 10 inches
  • Wrench
  • 2 lag bolts with washers, ½ by 7 inches
  • 5 to 7 rafter boards


  • "Sunset Garden and Patio Building Book"; Editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine; 1975
  • Home Tips: How to Build an Arbor or Pergola
Keywords: Make an arbor, Building landscape features, Backyard structures

About this Author

Susan Lundman began writing about children's health issues in 1990. Her work appears on eHow, GardenGuides, Trails and LIVESTRONG.COM, focusing on topics in healthy living, outdoor activities and gardening. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Stanford University,