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What is an Arbor?

One of the two most commonly confused elements of backyard design are the pergola and the arbor. Similar in both look and construction, it can be easy to see how the two frequently confuse homeowners.

However, though similar in appearance, a pergola and an arbor serve different purposes in your backyard. So, what is an arbor? Read on to find out, and see how you can use one to bring a unique design element to your backyard renovation.

What is an arbor?

Arbors are a structure in landscape design, and are often found in gardens or walkway areas. They provide style, shade, privacy, and may also serve as a vining apparatus for landscaping elements within the space. Arbors serve a similar purpose to trellises, and may even be designed in similar manors. However, arbors are more substantial structures. 

Arbors can attach to other structures in the yard, or can be freestanding structures. Most contained a two or four post structure with a slatted roof. The roof of an arbor can vary in appearance depending on several factors. Factors include the material used and the design of the overall space, however most traditional arbors feature an arched roof. Most arbors stand around 8 to 10 feet tall, allowing plenty of space for people walk comfortably under them as they move through your space. 

What are arbors used for?

The most defining aspect of an arbor that separates it from other backyard installations of similar styles is its function or purpose. While pergolas, gazebos, and trellises all may feature similar elements of design, the arbor serves a separate purpose to similar design elements.

Put simply, an arbor defines a space, or a transition of space outdoors. Most commonly, you will find arbors placed on walkways, paths, or entrances to outdoor spaces. They may be placed throughout garden paths, or to stand as a figurative doorway to another section of the yard.

Pergolas are typically meant to offer a shaded, enclosed feel that mirrors an outdoor room. Comparatively, arbors are the doorway to the given space itself. This makes them generally smaller, simpler, and easier to install. 

If you are struggling to determine whether your space would benefit more from an arbor or a pergola, consider what functionality you are missing from your outdoor living space. Are you in need of a contained room? Attempting to visually signal a transition through spaces? Or are you simply looking to beautify an existing walkway?

The answer to these questions will help you to make a decision about what will best serve your space. 

What is an arbor made out of?

Like pergolas, arbors can be constructed from a handful of popular outdoor building materials. As with similar structures, wood is the most popular material utilized by contractors and landscape designers as it is versatile and looks great in most spaces. Higher quality wood will offer extended durability and great visual appeal for traditional and modern spaces alike.

However, those looking for a departure from a wood finish may find the look they’re after in metal constructions such as wrought iron or stainless steel. When choosing materials, consider the design of the rest of your space, and the design of your house. Structural elements such as arbors should take care to fit with the architectural style of your home.

No matter what material you choose, it’s important to consider maintenance. Arbors with vining plants will require care to prevent plants from becoming overgrown or invasive. Regular cleaning and care will prevent wood and metal from becoming damaged, and will extend the life of your arbor significantly.

How much does an arbor cost?

Arbors can be excellent solutions for families looking to add style and structure to an outdoor space without breaking the bank. Arbors are often far less expensive than pergolas and more expensive than a simple trellis or screen. Overall, arbors can be constructed for an affordable price while offering a significant impact to the appearance of your space. 

The price of an arbor is determined by the complexity of the design and amount of installation work needed. Arbors that are fully integrated into your space will be more costly than those standing alone on a garden walkway, or a simple arch over the entrance to a separate part of your outdoor living space.

Arbors Serve A Unique Purpose

While many homeowners favor the popularity of a pergola, an arbor can be a great addition to spaces that are looking for a smaller structural touch. Used to break up living spaces or add shade and visual interest to walkways, arbors can be affordable and beautiful ways to create visual interest in your backyard without the price and time commitment of a full pergola construction.

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