Skip to main content

Comparing an arbor to a pergola is akin to comparing a miniature show pony to a large draft horse. They share resemblances but their role differ significantly. Both structures boast open-top frameworks supported by beams. They are often used to support climbing plants and can be combined with fences and trellises to enhance privacy.

Arbors typically grace entryways to gardens and mark the transition from one part of the garden to another. They are typically smaller and lightweight. They might feature ornamental elements like arched tops and gates. Some arbors might even bear a resemblance to pergolas. Arbors also tend to forge a closer bond with the surrounding flora, especially the vines they support.

In contrast, pergolas are more of a shelter or gathering spot. They are larger and capable of accommodating an outdoor kitchen or dining areas. Pergolas are supported by substantial posts, typically 6 by 6 inches or larger. A pergola’s primary function is as a dedicated space for relaxation and enjoyment.

Table of Contents


An arbor signifies a passage to be traversed. It is often positioned at an entrance or along a designated path. This is the doorway arbor, often found at the beginning or end of a garden path. Yet, other types exist, such as the traditional grape arbor and some that resemble pergolas.

At its core, an arbor comprises paired posts topped by a crossbeam or assembly bridging the gap between them. It can be as narrow as a standard doorway to as long as a small house. Variations include traditional trellises flanking posts, arched tops, or swinging gates between posts. Often vines or plants are trained to grow atop, providing refuge from sunlight.

Occasionally, they serve as delightful resting spots along well-defined paths complete with benches or swinging chairs.


A pergola is made of a simple open framework.

While not entirely weatherproof or wind-resistant, during fair weather, few spots can rival its appeal for relaxation or gatherings with friends and family.

Most pergolas provide shaded respite from the scorching afternoon sun while allowing uninterrupted breezes. Affordable and straightforward to construct, they can be assembled within a weekend or two. It’s no surprise they rank among the most favored garden structures.

It might seem improbable that something so unassuming could accomplish so much, yet the pergola’s versatility creates livable outdoor spaces at a fraction of the cost of enclosed structures.

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

Leave a Reply