arched garden arbor standing between hedges on a lawn

How to Build a Garden Arbor

Put together a graceful arched structure for your yard or opt for a premade one

A well-placed arbor is your garden's ultimate multitasker: It can serve as an entryway to an outdoor spot; frame a focal point, like a flowering shrub or garden shed; and, of course, take your beloved climbers to new heights. The go-to material for this project is rot-resistant cedar, though you can also make it from treated lumber.

This design takes advantage of a few simple shortcuts: The premade lattice is cut to size, the arches are formed from a double layer of 1x6s, and the posts are made from doubled-up 2x4s, so you don't have to buy (and notch) pricey 4x4 posts.

Just remember to use exterior-grade glues, fillers, and hardware to keep water and rust from spoiling your work. Pick up all the materials you need at most home centers, or if you're buying an arbor instead, check out our picks on the next page for some of the options on the market. Whether left unfinished or given a coat of paint, you'll love how this piece adds personality to your outdoor space.

Adding a gate creates privacy and gives the arbor more of an "entry" feel.


Steps // How to Build a Garden Arbor
1 ×

Overview of How-to Build an Arched Garden Arbor

 
Step One // How to Build a Garden Arbor

Overview of How-to Build an Arched Garden Arbor

illustration of the component parts to build an arched garden arbor
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

You can tweak this design by using diagonal lattice, adding more crosspieces to the arch, or making it taller

 
2 ×

Make the Arches

 
Step Two // How to Build a Garden Arbor

Make the Arches

highlight of how-to build the arches for an arched garden arbor
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Cut, glue, and screw two staggered layers of 1x6s, with the ends cut at 22½ degrees and the longer sides measuring 21 inches, into the shape of an arch. Trace a half-circle curve onto the wood. Use a jigsaw to cut through both layers. Make the second arch the same way, using the first arch to trace the curve.

 
3 ×

Assemble the Side Frames

 
Step Three // How to Build a Garden Arbor

Assemble the Side Frames

highlight of how-to build the side frames for an arched garden arbor
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Attach two crosspieces between two 2x4 legs, all set on edge. Attach lattice stops to the frame's interior about ½ inch from the top edge. Flip the frame over and lay a piece of lattice onto the stops. Place a second set of stops on the lattice, and secure them to the frame on all sides. Attach a shorter 2x4 to each leg to form posts; the 2x4s should be flush at the bottom. Make the second side frame the same way.

 
4 ×

Install the Purlins

 
Step Four // How to Build a Garden Arbor

Install the Purlins

highlight of how-to install the purlins for an arched garden arbor
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Lay the arches on top of each other. Drill pilot holes for 2x2 purlins through both arches. Attach the 2x2s between the arches with glue and with screws through the pilot holes. Plug or fill the holes.

 
5 ×

Assemble the Arbor

 
Step Five // How to Build a Garden Arbor

Assemble the Arbor

highlight of how-to assemble an arched garden arbor
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Set the arch assembly onto the shorter 2x4 legs. Attach it to the longer 2x4s. Use mitered trim to cover the joint between the arch assembly and posts. Install using ground screws for 4x4 posts.

 
 
 

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