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Pergola vs. Arbor

Pergolas and arbors offer several similar features, but they also have very different purposes and styles. While a pergola is often used as a patio roof, arbors are considered garden accents. Of course, both are designed to house climbing plants and create an open garden space, whether on the patio or further out in your backyard. Much like arbors, some pergolas are used to create covered walkways, shrouded with flowering plants and vines.

Pergola

Arbor

Size

LargerSmaller

Price range

More expensiveLess expensive

Space

More space neededLess space needed

Stand alone

SometimesYes

Climbing garden

YesYes

Pergolas

Advantages of pergolas

  • Shaded patio - You can use pergolas with a canopy cover to create a shaded area over your patio for outdoor dining or casual seating sets.
  • Climbing garden - Pergolas are great for creating a cozy nook with climbing flowers and other vine-like plants that will slowly make their way up and across the structure.
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Limitations of pergolas

  • Cost - Pergolas are often larger structures, and tend to cost more than an arbor.
  • Space - Pergolas often take up a significant amount of space, and can be used as a full patio cover.
  • Support - Many pergolas require the support of a large structure like a house or a garage. This type of pergola comes out from the structure and is supported by additional columns.
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Arbors

Advantages of arbors

  • Cost - Arbors can be significantly less expensive than pergolas, but small arbors serve a different purpose than large pergolas.
  • Space - Arbors are typically smaller than pergolas, so they take up less space that makes them more versatile in location and installment.
  • Garden entryway - Because arbors are smaller than pergolas, they're ideal for creating an entryway into a garden, with climbing plants surrounding the structure.
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Limitations of arbors

  • Support - Arbors are often lighter and smaller, so they need to be planted firmly in the ground to ensure that they don't tip over during strong winds or storms.
  • Size - Because arbors are often small structures, they can't be used as covered patios or even covered walkways. They serve more as gateways and focal points in a garden.
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