Arbors & Arches


Arbors and arches are design features used to enhance gardens and landscapes while lending support to climbing plants. It is not mandatory that they be covered in climbing plants but it is customary. Choosing an arbor or arch depends on many things. Is it strictly decorative or will be functional? What type of plants will it support and where do they need to grow? How will the structure blend with the surrounding environment? Once you have considered these and other questions, you will ready to choose the arbor or arch that fits your landscaping project.

Decorative Uses

Arbors and arches can add a fascinating element to your landscape design. Either can become the focal point of a garden, serving as a place for the eye to rest amid the horticultural surroundings. Both make excellent break point between two parts of a garden or yard. They can separate a formal garden from a more casual one or a family area from a quiet area for solitude. Arbors and arches can be used as entryways leading from your front yard to your front door or adjoining the house to a garage or gazebo. If they are covered with plants, they can also be a significant source of shade. Any of these uses adds a decorative flair to your landscape.

Garden Uses

Arbors ad arches are also used to support plant life of climbing or vine-type nature. While they can support any type of climbing plants, arbors tend to be a bit larger and their overall construction is sturdier, making them suitable for supporting the weight of grapes. Arches are often used for smaller, less weighty plants such as wisteria, climbing roses or clematis.


Arbors and arches are generally constructed of wood, vinyl or metal. Vinyl is attractive and lightweight. The pieces are factory made and it together easily during assembly. Metal arbors are usually made from iron or coated steel. Because metal structures are weighty, metal arbors and arches tend to be smaller than vinyl or wood arbors. Wood structures lend a more natural feel to the landscaping project. They can me custom made to suit the site and your tastes.


Your budget and personal tastes are the two biggest factors in selecting an arbor or arch. The location and its intended use will also have some bearing on your selection process. A large arbor covered in lots of plant life maybe not be suitable for the country cottage entryway you are trying to achieve. Maintenance is another facet of the decision-making process. Vinyl is virtually maintenance free while metal may need occasional painting. Wood needs to be monitored for wear caused by weather, insects and nicks and dings caused by every day use.


When considering the choice of an arbor or arch, consider the site and the type of plants you intend to use with it. Some require full sun and the site should be selected accordingly. Make sure the structure is securely installed so that high winds and inclement weather do not cause it to topple. The plants should be secured with garden twine so that weather elements or gravity don't pull them down from the structure. The structure should be level so as not to put undo strain on any of the joints which could lead to premature wear.

Keywords: arbors, arch, landscape design

About this Author

Theresa Leschmann has been writing since 2005. Her work has appeared in the "Southern Illinois Plus" and on numerous websites. She is a property manager who writes about gardening, home repair, business management, travel and arts and entertainment topics. She is pursuing an associate's degree in English from Oakton Community College.