What is an Arbor?
An arbor is a shaded garden with plants growing up over the walking space to form a roof. Arbors are designed to add style to a garden, as well as give its occupants peace and respite from the outside world in their own colorful place of solitude and meditation. Also called pergolas, arbors are generally formed by a wooden, stone, or metal framework that is used as primary support for the rest of its composition. This framework is often topped by a wooden lattice structure to form the roof. Sturdy, fibrous vines such as grapes are then grown over these frameworks to provide shade and the general peaceful aura that is associated with an arbor. Arbors sometimes have benches, chairs, and tables built inside them to allow for a peaceful cup of coffee in an outdoor paradise.
Arbors are often connected to pavilions as part of an overall garden design. Arbors are also built as extensions to garden entrances to houses and other buildings for the sake of architectural beauty. Arbors are also considered a type of gazebo and as such they may be used as part of the shelter for a terrace or patio. Arbors are generally built to be permanent and are always beautiful to look at, enhancing the atmosphere of any garden.
The cost of an arbor varies greatly depending on the materials being used, quality of the workmanship, size and other factors. In general, a small, pre-built arbor will cost about $250. Custom arbors built by contractors may range anywhere from $3,000 to well over $10,000. The cost of building materials generally averages about $1,000, not including vine cultivation.
Types of Arbors
There are numerous designs used in the creation of arbors. Classical arbors are built most commonly of stone. Large stone pillars are built directly vertical out of the ground and sometimes reach upward to form archways or flat roofs in the middle. If you look at a classical arbor without any of the vines it would look just like a series of archways made of stone. The vines tend to be draped between these to form a tunnel shape. Due to structural problems in the old age of many of these structures, the roofs and archways of classical arbors usually collapse over time. Modern refurbishments of older broken classic arbors generally included extra added wooden support beams as well as wooden lattice roofs that are set on top of the stone columns to preserve the original effect. The classic arbor structure is what most modern-built arbors are based on.
Modern arbors tend to be designed with the wood and metal as primary components. Heavy wooden support beams are built directly vertical out of a cement foundation. These beams do not support any vine growths, but rather simply support the wooden lattice form that is then attached on top. It is this lattice that supports all of the vines in a thickly grown fashion, forming a very heavy shade with almost no sunlight entering in from the top. Most of the light in modern arbors comes from the sides. Modern arbors are often fitted with benches, chairs, and other ways to relax. Sometimes arbors are equipped with eating spaces such as tables for the purpose of peaceful meals away from the rest of the world. Small arbors are also available, usually pre-built. These are usually just a single archway large enough for one person to stand or sit under. They are used primarily as decoration rather than as shelter for a garden.
One popular arbor type found often in Germany and other parts of Europe is also called a green tunnel. Green titles are just what they sound like, they are rounded, tunnel-shaped arbors. They are generally constructed of wood and sometimes metal and filled with straight vertical walls that then curve over and meet in the middle to form a rounded roof. Vines are then grown and draped over the use of the day grow intertwined with the lattice-like design of the structure itself. Often times the vines are grown more heavily or closely together toward the base and then taper off as they reach out toward the top. This allows for direct sunlight to trickle through the top or beam in directly, making green tunnels much brighter than most other types of arbors. There is usually a stone, brick, tiled, or gravel pathway that is built to run beneath the green tunnel.
Arbor roofs may cover entire enclosed gardens. Generally they are built as roofs for small gardens and backyards that are enclosed by a building. Often in these cases the building itself is used as the primary support for the arbor’s own lattice. Additional support beams may be built to add extra structural integrity to arbor roofs. In general, the vines of our roofs are grown less thickly than in other forms of arbors to the gardens can then be grown below them in so that sunlight can reach the interior areas.
Building an Arbor
Arbors are usually built by professional contractors and by garden designers. They may also be constructed by a skilled amateur carpenters, seeing as their design structure is generally quite simple. When building an arbor, you should first think about what sort of design you would like as there are many to choose from. To build the most common form of modern arbor, you must start by laying a cement foundation in a deep trench, pair of parallel trenches, or series of smaller foundation holes running the length of your intended space. Into this foundation, support beams are placed and firmly set. This is also an excellent way to lay a stone, brick, or tiled pathway under your arbor.
The wooden lattice structure can be built separately and then attached to the top of these supports with 90-degree angle braces. The lattice may also be built directly onto the beams. Generally, the framing is completed first and then the cross lattice pattern is built from there. When building the wooden elements of your arbor, use a tough, weather-resistant wood such as coast redwood or western red cedar. You can also use another type of hardwood and paint it or stain it an unobtrusive color such as gray. Once the lattice has been completed, the hard part of the construction is over. A net or other form of lesser support is usually attached to the top of the lattice so as to give extra support to the vines. Select one or several types of vines that you would like to grow. You may use already grown vines and simply transfer them to the top of your arbor, or grow them directly on top of your arbor, depending on their soil requirements. You can also grow vines one or both sides of the arbor and then drape them over the top or wind them around each of the support beams, giving you a more enclosed sort of arbor. The best types of vines to use are grapes, ivy, kudzu, bougainvillea, and wisteria. Other types of vines that are often popular in arbors are morning glories, sweet peas, passion fruit, Virginia creeper, and Japanese honeysuckle.