A garden arch, sometimes called an arbor, adds visual interest to your landscaping. It creates a division between two areas, suggesting a change in venue as you pass from one side to the other. Many gardeners train flowering vines up and across the arch, turning it into a lovely kind of decorative planter. Arches create a focal point, making a kind of natural picture frame for your yard. They beckon visitors to pass through them and explore what’s on the other side.
Measure the area where the arch will go. Many times an arch will span a garden path, so the width is easy to calculate. It must be at least 7 feet high, to allow easy pass-through. The depth you choose depends on whether you want to create a doorway effect, or more of a shaded tunnel-style arbor that emphasizes the climbing greenery you train across the arch.
Choose your materials. Arches can be made of many different materials—wood, plastic and pipe purchased from a home center are popular choices. You can even fashion a rustic arch from cut tree limbs or other natural homegrown elements in your yard. Pre-made latticework panels are another simple option.
Design the arch. An arch is made up of two elements: side panels and the top arched segment. The side panels can simply be wooden posts for the uprights, such as 2-by-4s, held together by crisscrossed braces made up of smaller pieces of wood. The side panels can be made of two posts, or three or more depending on the depth you want for your arch.
Construct the top arched segment. This is often made of lighter wood. If you are handy with woodworking, you can design an elaborate curved arch that involves fashioning two half-octagon-shaped pieces, placing a form over them that outlines the desired curve, and then cutting the pieces to match the form. If you want to do something simpler, you can have a flat-top piece, made of crisscrossed sections of wood.
Assemble and install. Sections can be made in your garage or other work area. Stain or paint the finished sections. Don’t forget primer if you choose paint. If you are building a heavier structure, consider attaching the top to the side panels, completing the arch, near the area where the arch will be installed to limit the amount of lifting required.