Outside garden arbors are decorative elements for your outdoor living space. Building your own garden arbor can be a weekend project designed to provide a shady spot for quiet contemplation or a frame to support flowers and foliage. Design your arbor to coordinate with the overall look and feel of your landscape.
An outside garden arbor can be a free-standing framework to support climbing vines and plants. It can also be a covered frame attached to the side of a house or garden wall. Outside garden arbors may stand at the entrance to a garden path or a separate section of the property. Garden arbors can also stand as focal points in landscape design.
Basic garden arbor designs consist of two vertical support sides connected horizontally across the top. The top of the arbor is rarely a solid surface; lattice and open air designs are most common. The top of a garden arbor may be arched or straight. Outside garden arbor designs may include a built-in bench or attached gate. Most garden arbors are decorative features with designs ranging from rustic to elaborate.
The main criterion for building materials used to construct an outside garden arbor is that they be weather-resistant. Common choices include treated wood, redwood, cedar, lattice wrought iron, copper pipe, PVC pipe and molded plastic. Homemade garden arbors are often built with dried grapevines along with natural limbs and twigs. Decking screws, solder and waterproof construction adhesive may be used to attach the materials together to create the arbor.
One common building technique for constructing outside garden arbors is based on post and beam construction. Four to six vertical side supports are joined together with horizontal cross beams in the center. If the design calls for two side-by-side vertical support posts on each side of the arbor, one to three beams are often used to join the posts. A six-post style has three vertical support posts on each side of the arbor, joined by two to six horizontal beams. Horizontal beams are also part of the structure to join the two sides of the arbor together.
Free-standing garden arbors must be secured at least 18 inches into the ground. Depending on the materials used, the vertical support posts may be cemented in place or simply inserted straight into the ground. If your outside garden arbor is made with PVC pipe or copper pipe, you can insert 3-foot sections of rebar at least 18 inches into the ground, and then fit the poles over the rebar.