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Traditional Entry Arbor

This entry arbor is affordable, elegant, and easy to build.

What You Need:

+ enlarge image Choose arbor-enhancing vines, such as annual morning glory, cypress vine, or thunbergia.
  • Four 10-foot 2x4s (A)
  • Four 8-foot 1x4s (B)
  • Thirteen 4-foot 2x2s or seven 8-foot 2x2s cut in half, or 13 precut deck spindles (C)
  • 72 feet of lath or twenty-four 36-inch pieces (D and E)
  • Approximately sixty 3-inch deck screws
  • Approximately thirty 2-inch deck screws
  • Approximately twelve 1-5/8-inch deck screws (for brackets; optional)
  • Approximately fifty 6d galvanized nails
  • 3-4 gallons gravel
  • Exterior-grade latex stain or polyurethane sealer (optional)

Instructions:

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1. Click here for a larger image of this plan.

2. Begin with rot-resistant wood, such as cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine.

3. Dig 30-inch-deep holes for the four main 2x4 posts (A). Add 6 inches of gravel to the holes for drainage.

4. Cut the four 1x4 top rails (B) into 7-foot, 3-inch lengths. To add the optional 1-1/4-inch decorative hole, mark the hole and 30-degree ends before cutting rails. Drill the hole with a 1-1/4-inch flat bit; then cut off the end along the marked line.

5. If you didn't purchase precut deck spindles, cut the thirteen 2x2s (C) to 3-foot, 6-inch pieces, adding a 45-degree bevel on both ends. Cut the common lath (D) into twenty-four 3-foot pieces.

6. Now start the sides. Lay the four uprights (A) side by side on their narrow sides on a flat surface with the ends flush. Measure and mark lattice locations (D and E) on all four sides. To make each end section, lay two post pieces on the ground 2 feet apart. Nail horizontal lath pieces (D), attaching bottom and top ones first. After all the horizontals are mounted, attach the diagonals (E). Set the two assembled sections into the holes; plumb with braces. Fill the holes with a mixture of soil and gravel.

7. You're ready for the top. Lay the four top rails (B) narrow side up; measure and mark the spacing (4 1/2 inches apart) for the 13 top pieces (C). Attach the top rails with 2-inch deck screws and use 3-inch deck screws to fasten the top pieces in place. Apply construction adhesive at all joints to increase stability. If you're using decorative brackets, attach them using 1-5/8-inch deck screws. Apply a coat of exterior-grade latex stain or polyurethane sealer, if desired, to help protect the wood against weather.

Theme Variations

Use arbors to frame a view, to greet guests, to provide a place for a bench, or to give the garden a sculptural feel. Arbors not only draw you along a garden path; they provide a place for vines to scramble skyward.

+ enlarge image An elegant entrance.

A blend of cedar and wrought iron form an arbor that's long-lasting and weather resistant. Use metal to incorporate curves into traditional right-angle designs.

Most often, people associate arbors with entry, indicating a passage from one area of the garden to another. Enhance this sensation with a little architectural sleight-of-hand. Intensify the demarcating effect of an arbor by expanding its borders. Add to the arbor's structure with raised planters, built-in benches, or lattice-topped extensions.

+ enlarge image Arbor art.

A simple, affordable treatment entails laying brick or flagstone directly beneath an arbor and slowly fading it into gravel or mulch pathways on either side of the arbor. Decorate your arbor with annual or perennial vines that offer color and shade.

Gussy up a gate to do more than usher guests into the garden. Adding substantive concrete pillars, a top dressing of rail rafters, and a clematis vine creates garden sculpture.

+ enlarge image Rooftop creativity.

For freestanding arbors, surround the structure with an abundance of lush shrubs, such as hydrangeas, shrub roses, and Korean lilacs, to form living walls and create a sense of privacy.

With the posts of an arbor in place, turn your imagination loose and choose the covering overhead. This scrap-metal mesh lets the sun shine on the brick patio below.