What is an Arbor

What is an Arbor? Backyard 101

There are countless structures and features one can use to elevate their backyard and/or garden space.  From gazebos and pergolas to cabanas and ponds, the options are seemingly endless, each providing a unique aesthetic while also serving an important functional purpose. But what about an arbor? You may have seen these garden features before or heard mention of them but not really understood their purpose or how they differ from other backyard additions. 

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at arbors. As you read, you’ll learn what these garden features are, their overarching purpose, the ideal locations to place them, and other relevant information. By the end, you’ll be able to determine whether an arbor would suit your outdoor needs.

Ok… So, What Exactly is an Arbor?

If the word “arbor” rings a bell, but you can’t quite place your finger on what it is, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Chances are, you’ve seen one before but just didn’t know what it was called. 

An arbor is a freestanding garden structure that appears as a rectangular or curved archway and can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, stone, and, most commonly, wood. 

These structures often feature crossbeam roof designs and lattice panels on the sides but can be found in numerous different styles to suit any taste. Compared to a pergola or gazebo, two other garden features with similar aesthetics and purposes, an arbor is noticeably smaller in size and found standing over garden paths, entrances, and beside lianas (also known as climbing plants).

What Is The Purpose of an Arbor?

You might be considering acquiring an arbor for your outdoor patio, garden, or deck but are unsure of what, exactly, these structures are used for. Before you purchase or build one of these potentially pricy features, you’ll want to confirm that its purpose fits your needs.

Arbors can serve a multitude of purposes, oftentimes all at the same time. These include:

  • Creating an instant focal point in your garden
  • Adding vertical interest to a space
  • Providing support for climbing plants
  • Providing shade and shelter from the sun
  • Serving as an entrance or gateway

The diversity of arbors makes them an extremely beneficial addition to any outdoor space. Many gardeners will use them to support the size and weight of their plants and give them vertical space to grow rather than constantly pruning and containing them. Whether they be climbing flowers, like honeysuckle, or produce, like tomatoes, an arbor can be a simple answer to keeping these potentially invasive plants from taking over the rest of your garden bed.

They’re also very helpful in demarcating outdoor spaces and can be used alongside features like fencing to create a clear layout. You might strategically place an arbor over a bench to create a private sitting space or you could place it over a pathway leading to your garden to help separate it from the rest of your lawn.

Of course, many people will obtain an arbor for aesthetics alone. The sight of a wooden arbor covered in vines and blooming flowers has been popular for centuries for its whimsy and charm, making them the perfect touch to any landscape.

What Is The Difference Between an Arbor And a Pergola?

We previously mentioned other structures very similar to an arbor, such as the gazebo or pergola. Most people recognize how a gazebo and arbor differ, as gazebos are significantly larger in size and appear octagonal or turret shaped. But what about a pergola?

Despite being frequently used for one another and referred to interchangeably, arbors and pergolas are technically two different structures. 

An arbor is typically smaller and more delicate in appearance, with a simple archway design. A pergola, on the other hand, is larger and more robust, with a series of support beams that create a more open-air feel. 

Additionally, arbors are typically free-standing, while pergolas are often attached to another structure, such as a house or garage. As a result, pergolas tend to be more permanent fixtures in a garden or over an outdoor patio than arbors. Both serve nearly identical purposes of providing shade, plant support, and aesthetic elevation to a space, but if you’re looking for a structure that will do this on a larger scale, then a pergola is the way to go.

Why Is It Called an Arbor?

One could argue that an easy way to help differentiate an arbor from a pergola is to understand the meaning and origin of these words. 

For instance, the word pergola is derived from the Latin word “pergula” which refers to a “projecting eave.” An eave refers to the portion of a roof that extends beyond a building’s wall, which explains why pergolas are often primarily acquired for shade purposes and attached to structures. 

Comparatively, the word arbor is derived from the Latin word “herba,” meaning grass or herb. However, the spelling for this word was influenced by the Latin word “arbor,” meaning tree. These origin terms might explain why arbors are more commonly used in gardens and as a source of support and shade for plants versus arbors that are often installed in spaces where people tend to entertain and relax.

Where Do You Place an Arbor?

We’ve touched on this question in our previous sections, but if you’re still uncertain of the ideal location for your future arbor, we can help. 

Arbors can ultimately be placed wherever you please, but they are best utilized in areas of your yard that:

  • See a lot of foot traffic
  • Are designated for plant growth
  • Require separation and/or privacy
  • Would benefit from vertical height without being overwhelming

If you search images of arbors, odds are the majority of them are used as an entry point to a designated space (ex. garden, patio) or hover over some type of walkway or bench. You can even install multiple arbors alongside one another to create a tunnel over walkways that will provide shade, direction, and a stunning garden experience.

Alternatively, if you’re an avid gardener, arbors are fantastic alternatives to plant stakes or support poles that will allow your plants to thrive while showing off their natural beauty.  

Determining where to place your arbor will really depend on your outdoor space and what purpose you need it to serve. Remember to consider the structure’s size, material, and surroundings before installing it to ensure it is the best fit for your garden.

Interested in an Arbor in San Antonio to South Austin?

Now that you’re an arbor expert, you might already be researching your options online, whether this means having a pre-manufactured arbor shipped to your door or learning how to make one yourself. 

Luckily, if you live anywhere between San Antonio to South Austin, we have the perfect place where you can get your dream arbor hand-made by experts.

French’s Custom Outdoor Concepts specializes in elevating anyone’s outdoor space to meet and exceed their needs. Their services include:

  • Deck building
  • Patio covers and sun arbors
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Backyard makeovers or renovations

Whether you want your sun arbor placed over a deck, patio, garden, or lawn, French’s team will work closely with you to ensure your personally customized feature becomes a natural part of your landscaping. 

Structural integrity is all but guaranteed, as French’s builders hold their products to the highest standard by not only meeting construction guidelines listed in the International Residential Code, but rather, exceeding them. They also hold their client’s needs and specifications above all else, which is why they offer six different arbor styles to suit multiple outdoor aesthetics (ex. hip, lattice, gable) and are willing to make alterations at your request. 

So, if you’re ready to elevate your outdoor garden or patio space with a fully customized sun arbor of your own, consider reaching out to French’s Custom Outdoor Concepts for more information.

Final Thoughts

An arbor is a beautiful and versatile addition to any yard and can provide shade, privacy, and even a place to relax. It’s important to choose the right spot for your arbor so that it can be enjoyed fully, and we hope this guide has helped you do just that. Remember to contact French’s team if you live in San Antonio to South Austin, and if you don’t live within their service area, reach out to a local arbor or pergola builder for more information.