Per­gola, arbor, gazebo: Learn the dif­fer­ences

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NETWORX - By Laura Firszt Laura Firszt writes for net­ This post orig­i­nally ap­peared here:­­ti­cle/per­gola-arbor-gazebo-learn-the-dif­fer.

Ah, sweet har­mony. That’s the word — and the feel­ing — that springs to mind when you think of a gar­den arbor, per­gola or gazebo. Th­ese ap­peal­ing out­door fea­tures keep ev­ery­thing in bal­ance, adding a dis­tinctly func­tional as­pect to your land­scape to­gether with an el­e­ment of old-world beauty. They of­fer shel­ter from the mid­sum­mer sun, while at the same time al­low­ing you to en­joy a gor­geous view and the balmy breezes that blow by. What’s more, they pro­vide a mod­icum of pri­vacy, in the form of a sub­tle sep­a­ra­tion of your space from your neigh­bors’ … with­out the jar­ring qual­ity of a 10-foot fence. Would you like to have one of th­ese mini-build­ings in your own yard? Learn about what makes each unique.


An arbor is by far the sim­plest of the three gar­den struc­tures. It con­sists of a frame, ei­ther square-cor­nered or arched, that acts as an en­trance way or pas­sage to a part of your out­door area. An arbor may or may not in­clude an ac­tual gate. Usu­ally cov­ered with at­trac­tive climb­ing plants like ram­bling roses or morn­ing glo­ries, it serves to add height, def­i­ni­tion, and eye ap­peal to its sur­round­ings. An arbor, or its close cousin the trel­lis (a plant sup­port com­prised of a flat piece of lat­tice­work), will work well in even the small­est scrap of yard. It is typ­i­cally con­structed of wood or wrought iron and mea­sures about the same as a regular door­way -- at least 6’8” high by 3’ wide -- to al­low for com­fort­able move­ment.


A per­gola (pro­nounce it PER-guh­luh) is a larger wooden struc­ture, which has only col­umns for walls and ei­ther a solid or an open­work roof. It may also be draped with plants, such as grapevines. Although they were tra­di­tion­ally placed as invit­ing look­ing stand­alone hide­aways at the end of a gar­den path, per­go­las at­tached to the house are now be­com­ing more popular, usu­ally as a ver­ti­cal ad­di­tion to a pa­tio. (In fact, the term pa­tio cover is of­ten used in­ter­change­ably with “per­gola” th­ese days.) There are sev­eral ad­van­tages to this new style: it’s eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and protects your out­door living room from the el­e­ments. In ad­di­tion, con­struc­tion is sim­pli­fied by us­ing the wall of your home as one side of the per­gola. A good car­pen­ter can build you a per­gola in your choice of a va­ri­ety of sizes, depend­ing on the in­tended use and the space you have avail­able. Just make sure that it is weather-re­sis­tant and the col­umns will be ad­e­quate to sup­port the roof.


A gazebo is the most de­fined of th­ese gar­den build­ings. It is free­stand­ing, an oc­tagon shape with a solid pitched roof that is of­ten topped with a whim­si­cal bit of car­pen­try -- a cupola, or tiny dome. Sup­ported, like the per­gola, by col­umns, gaze­bos gen­er­ally fea­ture low rail­ings around their base and may in­clude a built-in bench for con­ve­nient seat­ing. Some are screened against in­sect “guests,” es­pe­cially if they are de­signed for dining al fresco. Large gaze­bos may be found in parks, used as band­stands. Wood gaze­bos are clas­sic, but you will also find them made out of alu­minum, wicker, or vinyl. The roof­ing ma­te­rial might be wood or shin­gles. As with per­go­las, gaze­bos can be con­structed to the di­men­sions you wish. How­ever, be sure to read your lo­cal build­ing code be­fore work be­gins, as the size of any out­build­ings may be limited to a cer­tain per­cent­age of your lot. In ad­di­tion, check out your prop­erty’s pri­vate covenants and re­stric­tions.


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