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Long associated with old fashioned gardens, arbors are a beautiful way to frame an entrance to an outdoor space or to provide some welcome shade for a garden bench or swing. Arbors can be used as part of a fence, incorporate a gate, or serve as a covering for doorways. Climbing plants, such as roses or clematis, can be trained up and over the top of an arbor to provide even more charm. Arbors come in a wide variety of styles and sizes from simple, rustic branches lashed or nailed together to elaborate architectural statements. They can be custom built, but less expensive kits are available from garden centers, home improvement stores, and online sites. The following should be considered when buying an arbor:

  • Think about the size and style of arbor that will best suit your site. It should neither overwhelm your yard, nor should it look insignificant. Arbors can be very formal or rustic, depending on the architecture of your house. If you are using an arbor as an entry way, make sure it is wide enough to comfortably pass through it. Make sure that lawn mowers and wheelbarrows can be rolled through.
  • Arbors need to be sturdy enough to support the mature weight of any vines you plan to grow on them. The thick trunks of wisteria, for instance, are quite heavy and will cause flimsy structures to collapse over time. Make sure the arbor is wide and high enough to be comfortable even though plants are growing through it.
  • Wood is the most traditional choice of construction material. Because arbors will sit outside all year, a good quality weather resistant wood will last the longest. Mahogany and teak can be left untreated to weather to a beautiful silver gray. Cedar can also be stained or coated with urethane. Arbors made from pressure treated lumber are usually less expensive.
  • Arbors constructed from manmade composites

    offer a long lasting alternative to wood. They can be painted any color and are almost maintenance free. Vinyl arbors are also available. They are usually white or green and cannot be painted but are virtually maintenance free and , need only an occasionally hosing off to remove dirt.

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