Charming White Vinyl Arbor With Beautiful Climbing Bougainvillea Under Palm Trees
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Why Every Garden Needs An Arbor & How To Choose The Right Arbor For Where You Live

Beyond Beauty - Seven Reasons To Add An Arbor To Your Garden & How To Choose The Right Arbor Depending On Where You Live

The garden... the word alone invokes not only thoughts of serenity and the promise of abundant fruit and vegetable crops, but also something magical, mystical and yes, mysterious.  As with your home, the entrance to this magical place, which is the first thing a visitor sees, needs to make an impression.  And that is just one of many good reasons why every garden should have an arbor, a distinctive entryway that lets guests know they are about to enter someplace very special.

Of course, enhancing visual curb appeal and increasing your property value is important, too.  However, there are few better ways to create a charming, serene escape from the outside world than by turning your garden's entryway into something resembling a portal into a magical world...

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An arbor with beautiful magenta bougainvillea cascading over its arch creates a delightfully enchanting tropical garden path
A beautiful magenta bougainvillea cascades over the arch of this arbor creating a delightfully enchanting tropical garden path...

How To Train Bougainvillea Over An Arbor Bright Purple Flowers Arch Over Walkway In Charming Tropical Garden
This is the same arbor as the one pictured above, but in a photo taken a few months earlier at the start of "training" the bougainvillea.   As you can see, in a short amount of time, a bougainvillea can yield a lush flowering display.

An arbor adds curb appeal as it gracefully arches cascading bougainvillea over a path leading to the front door
An arbor adds curb appeal & enhances your real estate value while supporting cascading vines that gracefully arch over a welcoming tropical path to the entry.

What Exactly Is An Arbor? 

An arbor is an upright arch-like structure used to define an entry or exit for gardens or other outdoor spaces.  The arch shape makes it ideal for arching over walkways and paths, creating a distinctive tunnel-like passageway when covered in climbing vines and vegetation.  Like a trellis, an arbor is often made from open framework or lattice of intersecting pieces of material that serves as structural support for all manner of climbing vines, plants or shrubs.  Arbors can be made from many different types of materials, from wood to metal to vinyl, but I will make the case for why vinyl was the best choice for me a bit further below in this article.  I will also share my top picks for the highest quality, premium metal and wood arbor options.

In addition to coming in a variety of materials, arbors also come in a variety of unique architectural styles as well.  So, if you are looking for very distinctive arbors with unique features, I have highlighted arbors with charming latch gate doors for even more of a secluded feel to your garden, as well as arbors that come with attached benches on which weary guests can sit and rest a spell.


"Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast.  Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing.  Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people.  So it must be all around us.  In this garden - in all the places."

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

An arbor with beautiful magenta bougainvillea cascading over its arch creates a delightfully enchanting tropical garden path


With So Many Styles of Arbors, How Do You Choose the Right Arbor for You? Metal, Wood or Vinyl? Consider The Climate Where You Live

Because of the fact that arbors come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, it can seem daunting to select the right arbor to meet your needs.  However, because your arbor is an outdoor architectural structure that - you hope - will last for many years to come, one of the foremost considerations should be the arbor's material.  Specifically, how the material your arbor is made of will hold up to the weather conditions where you live and garden.

Metal Arbor Pros & Cons

Classic But May Be Less Durable in Seaside, Coastal Climates

While metal or wrought-iron arbors are a classic style, consider the climate conditions where you live carefully before you make your purchase.  If you live in a more humid location with higher rainfall, routine rust prevention and maintenance measures will be required depending on the quality of your arbor, not to mention that metal arbors can be more costly to replace.  While you would think modern metal arbors would be rust-proof and durable, that is not always the case so only look for top-quality, treated metal.  Also, metal often rusts and succumbs exceptionally fast in a seaside environment anywhere near salt water.  Therefore, unless you like a very weathered patina or can afford the best treated metal options and the possibility of replacing your arbor every few years, you may want to reconsider metal if you live in any type of coastal location.

Lightweight Yet May Not Provide Adequate Support

In addition, since many metal arbors can be flimsy compared to their wood or vinyl counterparts, you may not be happy with a metal arbor if you plan to use it in an area prone to high winds.  Lightweight metal arbors are also less than ideal if you want a bold look, or if you plan on using your arbor to support heavy climbing vines or shrubs.  For a bold, substantial and premium metal arbor, see my beautiful pick below.

Temperature Sensitive

Another often overlooked consideration is metal's tendency to absorb extreme heat or freezing cold.  Therefore, if you live anyplace that tends to get either extremely hot or extremely cold, metal arbors will probably not be your best choice; especially if you plan on growing vegetation on your arbor which can easily be damaged by temperature extremes.

The scroll design on this metal arbor would be at home whether your style is European or more Mediterranean. The intertwining curlicues add support for roses, wisteria, clematis or any other climbers.  Plus, the flower planters flanking either side of the entry let you grow even more flowers.  The arch is constructed of steel tubing and coated in a weather-resistant black epoxy for durability & continued outdoor use.

Wood Arbor Pros & Cons

Quaint & Rustic but Potentially High Maintenance in Humid Locations, Risky in Dry

Wood arbors are another option and are often sought for their beautifully quaint and rustic appeal that blends perfectly into the natural features of your garden.  While relatively inexpensive, wood does require some maintenance and can have issues with longevity, particularly in humid and wet climates.  On the other hand, wooden structures may not necessarily be all that desirable if you live in very arid or dry climates either, especially in areas prone to wildfires.

However, if you do live in a more temperate climate without any wildfire concerns, wood arbors are an affordable and classic option.  Just be prepared for a potentially shorter lifespan and the need to replace your arbor eventually, but at a relatively lower cost, replacing them should be fairly easy and inexpensive.

rustic looking cedar wood New England style arbor
Combining a natural, rustic look with a classic design, this pre-stained cedar wood will look great in wooded properties and cottage gardens. The trellis design offers great support for climbing vines & flowers, & is tailor-made for climbing roses in summer. The supplied steel anchors ensure sturdy installation.

Vinyl Arbor Pros & Cons

Charming & Versatile for Many Climates

All of these considerations make vinyl, our third option, my top pick, especially for those living in hot or wet places.  Bear in mind that I reside in a hot, sub-tropical climate so any architectural structure I choose needs to be able to tolerate a lot.  A high quality, high-grade vinyl will never need painting, is UV resistant and requires little to no maintenance, and this is exactly what I got with the arbor I chose.  Vinyl also does not suffer from temperature or weather extremes which is critically important, especially when living in a hot, wet, coastal climate, where wood tends to rot and breakdown super-fast and metal tends to rust just as quickly.

Key-West-Style-Tropical-Arbor-Every garden needs an arbor for cascading flowers like this bougainvillea
Turn a plain white arbor into a Key West-style tropical arbor... Every garden needs an arbor for cascading flowers like this bougainvillea... Find out how to prune your bougainvillea for maximum flowering potential here...

Low Maintenance & Long Lasting

After much research on my part, the arbor I chose meets all of these criteria and more and I could not be happier with my selection -- especially for what it has to endure in the hot, humid climate I call home.  The manufacturer of the arbor also included an official certificate of ownership and authenticity with my purchase which affirms the fact that the arbor is made only with premium, BPA-free vinyl that is guaranteed to last for twenty years.

This kind of durability plus the fact that the arbor is extremely sturdy while also relatively lightweight (which helped make assembly fairly easy with the help of two friends) makes this arbor an absolute winner in my book.  And, at this point, my arbor has now successfully weathered severe windstorms and even a category 2 hurricane without as much as a scratch.  Not to mention, the smooth white surface is so easy to keep clean that it is basically maintenance-free.

This popular vinyl model  is the same one I chose for my garden (pictured in this post) and I couldn't be happier with how well it holds up in the tropical weather.  Not only is it seemingly resistant to the elements but it is unbelievable sturdy even in intense tropical wind storms.  With the help of two friends, we put it together in about one hour. 

To further witness the durability of vinyl in action, you can see how effectively white picket fences made of vinyl have stood the test of time.  Traditional white picket fences made of wood which were so common in the old New England-style villages where I lived in New York became increasingly replaced with vinyl versions.  While still living in New York, we replaced our old wooden white picket fence with a vinyl one and watched it withstand both hot summers, cold winters, and Nor'easters without incident.

This vinyl "Nantucket" style arbor is similar to my model but has more of a lattice on both sides lending a very traditional & nostalgic look.  The additional lattice would look especially gorgeous (& very Cape Cod) with some beautiful blooming "Nantucket roses."

While you always want to consider the look and style of your home, you also want to be assured that your arbor of choice will be durable enough to stand the test of time - and whatever weather conditions Mother Nature throws your way.

White Arbor With Bougainvillea Benefits A Tropical Garden
A white arbor provides the perfect trellis support to create a tunnel of your favorite flowering vines -- here, a Bougainvillea makes for a tropical garden.

Benefits Of Having an Arbor in Your Garden - Seven Reasons to Add an Arbor to Your Landscape

An arbor adds value to your garden and property in many distinctive ways, and here are just a few.

1. Make A Grand First Impression & Become the Talk of the Neighborhood

Your garden may be amazing and magical after all the work you've put into it, so shouldn't the entrance to your garden be just as amazing and magical?  And I can think of few better ways to make an outstanding first impression than to have a majestic arbor standing sentinel at your garden entrance.

An arbor becomes both an accent and a landmark that sets your property apart from the rest and will surely be the talk and envy of neighbors, especially if you have beautiful flowering vines cascading over it.  Draping some lights over your arbor so it is illuminated at night can make it standout even in the dark.

Don't be surprised if your eye-catching arbor display starts an arbor trend on your street either, as everyone will likely be inspired by the beauty and architecture gracing your garden and want to replicate the same in their own garden.

Choose the Right Arbor For Where You Live - White vinyl "New England" style arbor with beautiful magenta bougainvillea cascading over walkway weathers heat & humidity in style
This white vinyl "New England" style arbor weathers heat & humidity in style with beautiful magenta flowers...

2. Create A Secret Garden - Create A Border Between the Security of Home & The Wild Unknown

Another very good reason every garden should possess an arbor is that is offers a distinctive entryway, a portal if you will, that lets your guests know they have entered into the magic and mystery that is your unique place.  Ok, so you may not use the term "magical" to describe your garden or yard, but I think you are just being modest... as there is always a magical element, it seems, to gardens.

Perhaps I spent too much time immersed in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden as a child -- that classical novel that cemented the garden as the quintessential escape into a magical world away from a miserable and dreary existence.  The story, as the name suggests, highlights the fact that a great appeal of a garden is the sense of escaping into a secret world, in this case, a hidden garden that children had to work to reveal.

Every garden possesses the promise and potential of secret recesses, hidden nooks and crannies, and well, mystery, just waiting to be discovered...  Maybe most of them are not hidden behind a locked door, but the idea of a secret and hidden sanctuary or refuge from the outside world is one of the most compelling factors of a garden's appeal.  Now, if you really want to emphasize the secret, hidden aspect of your garden, à la The Secret Garden, you may find an arbor featuring a latch door is right up your alley.

3. Clearly Define Your Entrance, Walkways & Paths

A garden can be as cultivated or as wild as the gardener behind it, but even the wildest of gardens deserves a clearly defined entrance and exit.  An arbor stands out letting visitors know where they should go, not to mention it clearly defines paths and walkways that otherwise may not stand out among the rest of your lush landscaping.

An Arbor Or A Magical Portal? Define Your Walkways & Entrance With Cascading Flowers By Training Flowering Vines - In This Case A Sun-Loving Bougainvillea Thrives In This Southern Facing Location
An arbor or a magical portal? Define your walkways & entrance with cascading flowers by training flowering vines.  Here, a sun-loving Bougainvillea thrives in this Southern facing location.

4. Add Color While Supporting Flowering Shrubs & Vines

The trellis aspect of an arbor can also serve as a support for flowering shrubs and vines or any other climbing plant that can further enhance walkways and paths.  Along with verdant shades of green, a flowering vine adds vibrant splashes of color to your walkways and entrance beckoning visitors to walk through and explore its tunnel of flowers.

5. Grow Your Own Produce

The upright vertical structure of an arbor is ideal for growing fruits or vegetables that may require a tall surface to climb on.  Therefore, make the most of space in your garden by utilizing the lattice of your arbor to cultivate your own produce.  Grapes come to mind, as well as vine-growing tomatoes and cucumbers.

6. Add Shade

The arching arbor naturally creates a shady spot that can serve as a welcome respite from the sun in any summer garden.  Weaving vines and plants covering the arch further help to create especially inviting shade canopies on hot summer days.  Take advantage of the shade by adding a bench next to your arbor.  An arbor such as this modern, Eastern-inspired reinvention of traditional arbor design can give your garden a peaceful, Zen-garden-like ambiance - the perfect place for a "contemplation" bench.

With a contemporary "Pagoda" style, this BPA-free vinyl composite offers the rustic appeal of wood with all the maintenance-free benefits of vinyl. Lattice detail supports your climbing plants & flowers & makes this arbor a stately & elegant entrance to any home or garden.

7. Increase Your Curb Appeal & Property Value

While any beautification of your home or property can boost your property value, landscaping is one of the first things a potential buyer sees, so anything that enhances your curb appeal can enhance the return on your investment.

Conclusion: Enhance the Entry to Your Home & Garden by Choosing the Most Durable Arbor for Where You Live

If you're looking to enhance the beauty and visual appeal of your home and landscaping, look no further than an arbor.  It adds structure to your garden by defining your garden's boundaries, while hinting of something magical just on the other side.  Is there any better way to create a charming and serene escape from the outside world than that?

A durable, high-quality arbor placed within your landscaping will last, and inspire memories, for years to come.  Use the guidelines here to select the best type of arbor for the climate where you live and garden.  Then let your arbor serve as the gateway to a space as enchanting as the limits of your imagination.

**Have you added an arbor to make your garden more magical & enchanting?  Or for its many practical benefits?  Share in the comments!