If you've decided to add an arbor to your garden, you've made a great decision. Arbors lend structure to an overall landscape design, and they're also a great way to create a focal point in your garden, drawing the observer's eye where you want it to go. If you've decided to build your own arbor, the next step is probably going to be picking out a set of plans. However, if you don't have a lot of experience with building plans, this step can be difficult. How do you know that you're choosing the best design for your yard? In this article, we'll explore five keys to choosing the right plan and building an arbor that's perfectly suited to your needs.
1. Think in terms of scale.
Building an arbor of the appropriate size is very important. When choosing plans, consider the overall scale of your garden or the specific area where the arbor will be located. Just as you wouldn't want a very small arbor dwarfed by an enormous deck, you also wouldn't want a mammoth 10 or 12 foot tall garden arbor in line with a 3 foot tall picket fence.
2. Consider the architecture of your home.
Styles and designs of garden arbors are as varied as the architecture of our homes. You'll want to pick something that works with the style of your home, not against it. For example, if you live in a Tuscan style home, you wouldn't want a craftsman-style arbor in your yard. Instead, you'd want to look for something with a Mediterranean feel to it.
3. What will the arbor's purpose be?
Some garden arbors are simply there for looks, while others serve a utilitarian purpose. When looking at plans, be sure to consider what your arbor's purpose will be. Do you want something with a bench seat underneath to create a cozy garden nook for reading or relaxing? Or does your arbor need to be built with a gate underneath, so it can fit in line with a fence and mark the entry point to a yard or garden? Whatever its purpose will be, make sure you take this into account as you look at building plans.
4. Choose the right type of wood.
Because garden arbors are exposed to the elements, choosing the right type of wood is critical. You don't want to put many hours of labor and love into building a beautiful arbor, only for it to start falling apart a few years later. Generally speaking, redwoods are the preferred building material for outdoor structures like arbors. Red cedar, for example, is naturally resistant to weather decay and insect infestations. Steer clear of pine; while it may be less expensive, it won't hold up in the long run. Treated wood can work well, though it's not the best choice if your arbor will be located in close proximity to garden plants. The chemicals in the wood can poison and kill some plants.
5. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Last but not least, don't try to tackle a project that's too difficult for you. If you don't have much woodworking experience or aren't extremely confident in your building skills, then don't choose a complex set of plans. As a general rule of thumb, shy away from plans that require difficult joinery methods such as mortise and tenon joints. If all else fails, consider buying a ready to assemble kit. Arbor kits come in hundreds of designs, shapes, and sizes, and can easily be ordered online or though specialty catalogs.
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