How to Design Arches and Pergolas

Keep these principles in mind when designing an arch or pergola for your garden space.

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Outdoor Dining Space DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Vertical interest is an important element in any garden, especially one with no existing mature trees. This is where arches and pergolas come into their own; they offer instant height, which can be softened quickly by fast-growing climbers. Do take care, however, that there is a strong purpose for the inclusion of such a feature, whether to frame or hide a view or to provide welcome shade.

Division and Screening

A pergola, linked with trellis panels or slatted lumber if you wish, can provide a successful physical and visual barrier from one part of the garden to another. This may be an ideal way to screen the vegetable garden, sheds, or utility areas.

Well-positioned archways are good for access, but avoid a central arch in a narrow garden, since this tends to split the garden down the middle and draw the eye through to the rear boundary. In this case, site the opening to one side of the garden and lead a path across to it. This will give greater movement in the garden and prevent a straight view from one end to the other. Carefully sited pergolas can also obscure unsightly views beyond the garden, while overhead beams may offer privacy from neighboring windows, providing greater comfort when sitting outdoors.

Simplicity and Scale

The construction of arches and pergolas should be bold and strong: where possible, avoid flimsy arches, which will collapse under the weight of mature climbers or, at best, take on a drunken gait. Simple wooden post-and-beam constructions usually work best, with little need for elaborate detail unless you are aiming to match an existing structure. Although new structures may look stark and heavy initially, they will be softened in time as climbing plants mature.

Simple Garden ArchEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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