Landscaping Features: Pergolas, Arbors, and Trellises

You love your yard. You landscape diligently, you maintain your fence and deck, and you keep everything free of debris and clutter. But it still feels like something is missing. If you feel like there’s a little extra something that your yard could use, we might have the perfect idea for you: a pergola, arbor, or trellis.

A Pergola, Arbor, or What?

It may sound fancy, but landscaping features like pergolas, arbors, and trellises are actually fairly common.

An arbor is a freestanding structure – typically an arched lattice, usually made of wood (although sometimes they are actually sculpted from vines and branches), which creates a natural-feeling gateway to a yard or garden. Usually only a few feet wide, an arbor is an elegant way to create shade for a gate or walkway. Arbors are most often seen at an entrance or exit point, highlighting the way into or out of an outdoor space.

Unlike an arbor, a pergola is not freestanding – it is usually constructed right next to a home or other freestanding structure. A pergola is, simply put, an open overhang, typically help up by four support posts and often more substantial in size than an arbor. A pergola might commonly be found as an open-air covering for a patio or outdoor dining space. Plants are often grown along the sides, which sometimes have some latticework, to add some natural vibrancy to the structure.


Finally, a trellis is distinct from its two cousins due to its use in regard to plants. A trellis is most commonly used to grow winding vines, and can be installed vertically or horizontally depending on their size and design. One common use is to install a trellis alongside a solid wall to encourage vine growth along the wall, adding a natural element.

Which One Is Right For Me?

If you are looking to add a fence to your yard, or to liven up a fence that’s already in place, adding an arbor to the gateway may be a good choice. Landscaping around (and on top of) the arbor can go a long way toward taking an otherwise boring, unattractive gate and transforming it into an elegant entryway.

If you have an outdoor cooking or dining space that you want to feature prominently, but don’t want to add a screened in component, a pergola would be a good option. The open-air nature of a pergola will still let in all the natural light and breezes, but can add some shade to the space without making it feel claustrophobic.