How to Make a Rustic Garden Arbor

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A beautiful yard is not complete without areas for relaxation and contemplation. A classic structure that has provided this sort of area in many gardens is the arbor. Arbors are simple and beautiful--they provide shade and a structure on which plants can grow. Following these step-by-step instructions, you can build a beautiful rustic garden arbor that will last for years.

Things You'll Need

  • Rough Wood Posts (at least 15 or 20) Bolts Drill and Bits Cement Shovel

Make a Rustic Garden Arbor

  • Select at least fifteen or twenty solid wooden posts. For a rustic arbor you might want posts that have not been stripped of their bark. A shaggy cedar post conveys a very raw and rustic look. The posts should be at least 8 or 9 feet in length and all of about the same size. Use thick, sturdy posts for the vertical and horizontal structure.

  • Dig four post holes, each about a foot deep. The arbor should form a square with the post holes at the corners. Place the posts in the holes and fill them with wet cement. Use a level to make sure that your posts are perfectly straight and hold them in place until the cement dries.

  • Connect the posts with four posts at about the 7 or 8-foot level. Make sure that these horizontal posts are level before you attach them. The arbor will be strongest and more attractive if the horizontal post protrudes past the vertical one and if the vertical post sticks up above the horizontal one. Use large steel bolts to connect the posts to each other. Test the resulting square structure for strength by pulling on the horizontal beams. There should be no movement or flexing of the posts.

  • Using smaller posts than the ones used for the major structure, cover the arbor with evenly spaced posts and fasten them to the horizontal posts with bolts. If you want a shade arbor, add lots of posts with little space between them. For a sunny arbor space the posts as much as a foot apart.

  • Test the arbor for weight strain. If the vertical or horizontal structure seems to be bending under the weight of the arbor roof you should take some of the posts off the top of the arbor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add an attractive patio under the arbor for a shady seating area. Plant vines to grow up the arbor to complete the rustic look.
  • Never build an arbor with weak or rotted wood. Always test the arbor's strength before anyone stands underneath it. Do not try to span the arbor over a long distance without several vertical supports.

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