Backyard structures – pergola, arbor or gazebo?

Posted: September 23, 2010 by DIY Big Boss in Pergolas / Gazebos / Sun Shades
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Quite often you can look out into your backyard and you know that it is crying out for something, some kind of feature to transform it from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and what could that be?  Well some of the most popular backyard structures are the pergola, arbor and gazebo, but what exactly is the difference between all of these and which will best suit your home?

Below we will explore what each is and how it looks:

The Pergola

Modern pergola by Everyday Guide. By clicking on this image you can find instructions on how to create this pergola.

A pergola is essentially a passageway which is covered.  Often these passage ways are supported by strong pillars that support a lattice roof through which vines are woven.  Though this is the traditional pergola there are many different variations on the pergola and some use wire to create a pergola tunnel or use a solid wall or structure on one side instead of pillars.

There is a wide variety of pergola ideas around and the best idea is to search the web for images.  You can create your pillars from stone and concrete for an ancient grand look, or alternatively you can use wooden posts.

Bougainvillea 'Traditional' Pergola

The idea behind the pergola though is to cover it with either a lush green vine or one that will explode into flower at spring.  Some popular plants to use are the Bougainvillea, Jasmine, and Grapes.  That stated, many modern pergolas are not covered with any vine, and are just left as a bare wooden structure.

In addition the modern pergolas do not lead anywhere, as their historical predecessors did.  They are also often square and purely decorative.

Whichever option you choose, both can be made to suit any type of house, home and back garden.

A pretty white arbor from Shop Garden Max in the USA

The Arbor

Now we will look at the Arbor, which is very similar to the pergola, however is not usually very large.  Often an arbor will be a decorative small feature, such as an entranceway to the garden, or will be used  as a feature over a small swing.

The arbor is most commonly now used as an archway which is created by interlaced trellis so that the vines can grow up and over it.  Arbors can be purchased whole or made.  Most of the common modern varieties are made out of metal, though if you are making one yourself, you can achieve beautiful results with wood.

As with the pergola, the arbor is often left naked of the vines it was originally built to support, but with the beautiful creations around, they are quite a feature on their own.

The Gazebo

Modern Gazebo from Gni Delhi a Gazebo manufacturer in India. This is the one for me!

Finally we come at last to the gazebo.  This is more of a pavilion structure and the key difference between these and the arbor and pergola is that their roof is solid, so that it provides some protection from the elements.  They are traditionally octagonal in shape with all the sides open to the garden, allowing those inside a 360 degree view of the garden.

Quite often in Australia you will find a large gazebo in a park, with steps leading up to it, and benches around the inside walls for patrons of the park to sit and look out on the comings and goings of others.  As a child I can remember playing in these.

Like all the structures the gazebo has undergone modification which has seen many variations, including that many are now square, but like the traditional ones, all still have open sides and a solid roof, though you are likely to find curtains attached to make them even more beautiful.

  1. I most like pergola and gazebo. Attached pergola with wall seems good and beautiful. BTW, good comparison information about pergola, gazebo & arbor. I would love to know further info over pergola designs.

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