Arbors bring Art and Structure
to your garden
Bring Art and Structure to Your Garden
Arbors, trellises and pergolas have been adding art and structure to outdoor living spaces and gardens for centuries
For anyone looking to add space, style and elegance to their garden, these versatile wooden structures are
practical projects that can be built in a single weekend.
Fall is an ideal time to consider outdoor architectural upgrades. While it may be your last major project of the
season, your appreciation for the effort will grow when spring 2004 arrives. The structure is already in place,
ready to enjoy as plants grow and flowers bloom around it.
A popular building material for a wooden pergola is Western red cedar. It’s stable, resilient, and
durable without the dangers of chemical treatment.
“Safety is important for people making building material choices,” says Peter Lang, general manager for the Western
Red Cedar Lumber Association. “Cedar looks beautiful and is among the most durable woods. For hundreds of years,
cedar has been highly prized for its natural compounds that resist rot and mildew.”
While western red cedar’s natural qualities have always been recognized, these are taking on new, heightened value
among builders -- from professionals to do-it-yourselfers. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency
issued a recommendation to avoid chemically treated wood, specifically wood treated with a form of arsenic. Recent
studies have linked the arsenic in treated wood to cancer.
Above-ground structures like pergolas, which might once have been built with treated wood, can be safely built with
real cedar, known as the “Tree of Life” to the Indians of the Northwest Pacific coast. These structures are as
beautiful and important to gardens as say an old car to a collector.
You may have seen pergolas on houses and called them trellises or arbors. Like a trellis or an arbor, a pergola can
support vines or climbing roses. And like a free-standing arbor, a pergola can filter light with its lattice-like
canopy. Pergolas are often used as covered or open-roofed gateways to homes, paths, and gardens.
Consider attaching the pergola to your home, using it to shelter a path between the main house and a garage or
other outbuilding. Because the overhead spans are supported by uprights, they can be made any size. Remember, one
of the great appeals of the pergola is that it's a piece of architecture.
In its simplest form, a freestanding pergola in the garden provides a unique focal point. It can also serve as an
effective soft screen from neighbors, additional shelter for a walkway, or the frame for a view of another feature
within the garden.
A pergola gives a deck character and provides new options for decoration and design. Pergolas and arbors are great
for vines, other climbing plants such as roses, and hanging baskets. If you don't have a green thumb, adorn the
pergola with lights or decoration for special occasions. With slight changes of the supporting columns and overhead
lattice, a pergola can fit almost any house style.
The basics of pergola construction are readily available online or from your trusted home improvement store. Before
you tackle the project on your own or with professional help, here are few handy reminders.
* Ensure that the posts can handle the weight of the overhead beams. For optimum performance, posts should be
attached to ready-made concrete footings purchased from your building supply dealer. This will help keep moisture
away from the base of the posts.
* Take special care when deciding the proportions of posts and crossbeams. A set of 4-by-4 inch posts would be
ideal with 2-by-6 inch boards nailed vertically for main-beams and crossbeams.
* Make sure the structure’s angles are precise to fit the dimensions you want.
* Make sure the posts are vertically straight and even in height. Ensure the main beams are level and evenly spaced
in parallel to each other. Use a carpenter’s level for precision.
* Finally, add decorative flair to the crossbeams with a simple cutting, such as a quarter circle from the
underside ends of each crossbeam.
A pergola can make a dramatic change in the yard and garden. It can enhance a style or be the final detail. Better
yet, you can do it in a single weekend. To begin the construction process of a pergola or any cedar outdoor
project, visit www.cedar-outdoor.org or call the WRCLA at (866) 778-9096 for free project ideas.
Courtesy of ARA Content