Alphabetical Plant Listing

Pergola, Arbor, Trellis? I am Confused!

Garden structures, such as arbors, pergolas or trellises, complement beautifully outdoor spaces and create a real architectural interest all year-around, that is worth considering. Used on a stand alone basis or combined with other landscape elements, they are extremely versatile and exist in basically all styles and many different materials. But what is the difference between an arbor, a pergola or a trellis? Since there is quite some confusion over the names of these garden structures, a brief definition would probably be welcomed and useful.


An arbor is a simple, freestanding structure generally with decorative latticework and an arched roof. It can be used to support climbing shrubs or vines for seasonal colors or year-round interest. It is also a lovely way to frame a garden entrance or a walkway, where we can enjoy the fragrance of the flowers as we pass by. It can be used to transition from one area of the garden to another, creating garden rooms.


arbor, arch, climbing roses, english garden, garden bench, hedge,iris, pink roses, garden structure, Katie Moss Landscape

Katie Moss Landscape Design


Arbor window, Pergola window, Clematis, climbing vines, Paul Moon Design

Paul Moon Design

  • Materials: Arbors exist in wood (treated-pine, cedar, redwood, teak), vinyl or metal. Wooden arbors have a natural look, but require some protection against rot or insect damages and need to be regularly stained and sealed to preserve their original beauty. Vinyl arbors are almost maintenance free and can withstand extreme temperatures and severe weather without cracking, rotting or rusting. Wrought iron arbors are usually painted to prevent them from rusting, while aluminum and galvanized steel arbors are resistant to the weather.
  • Costs: Arbors exist in pre-fabricated kits or can be custom made. Their cost varies with the material selected, their size and level of customization. Garden arbors could be as cheap as $200 and run over $1,500.


Larger than the arbor, a pergola is a freestanding structure typically formed by two rows of columns or posts roofed with an open framework of beams and cross rafters. It provides a foundation on which climbing plants can be trained and give shade. It also adds structure to a deck or patio and turn them into great entertainment areas. Guests can enjoy the shade patio covers cast during the day, and hang lights from the pergola canopy to keep entertaining long into the night. It can also be used as landscape architecture around flowering plants or a pond, and become a focal point.



Pergola, Arbor, climbing vines, Exteriorscapes




Pergola, Arbor, Patio, small outdoor space, fountain, water feature, outdoor patio,Carson Poetzl

Carson Poetzl

Attached to the house, it provides a perfect transition between indoors and outdoors. We talk then about "Patio Cover' instead, although this term is often used interchangeably with pergola.

Pergola, patio, Arbor, Bradinini, pillars, climbing vines

A patio covered with a pergola - Bradinini

  • Materials: Pergolas exist in wood (treated-pine, cedar, redwood, teak), vinyl or metal. Similarly to the garden arbors, the natural beauty of a wood pergola makes it the first choice of many homeowners. But wood can rot and decay over time, so look for wood pergolas made from wood species known for their resilience, such as cedar wood. Vinyl pergolas are easy to maintain and resistant to rot or rust. Vinyl can't be painted, so be sure to pick the right color. Wrought iron pergolas have been used for hundred years in gardens, for their beauty and strength. Subject to rusting, they should have a weather-resistant powder-coated finish to protect them.
  • Cost: Pergolas exist in pre-fabricated kits or can be custom made. Depending on the size, material and design complexity, the cost of a pergola may extensively vary from $500 to $10,000.


A trellis is a flat, freestanding structure used as a decorative fence or wall or privacy screen. A trellis may support climbing plants, or simply act as an ornament.


Trellis, trellises, Accents of France, Wall ornamenent

Accents Of France


Arbor, Treillis, Fence, Liquidscapes


  • Materials: Trellis comes in a number of prefabricated structures, in wood, metal, vinyl and even copper. They can be combined with planter boxes, stand alone arches or columns.
  • Cost: Depending on their footage and materials, they may cost between $200 and $500.

Guide Information

Landscaping Ideas Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises

Photo: 123RF Stock Photo

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Landscaping Ideas Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises

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