Garden Arch News & Advice ... since 2010

Types of Garden Structures

Types of Garden Structures

Would you know a bower from an arbour or a pergola from a gazebo?

People have been enjoying their garden arches for thousands of years - the Romans liked to adorn their arches with roses and vines, much like we still do today.

But did you know that there are some other closely related garden structures that are worth considering?

Each one has its own specific purpose and you'll often find that manufacturers create products 'collections' so you can buy other structures such as fence panels, and achieve a coordinated look in your garden.


Garden Arbours

Probably the closet relation to the garden arch, at its simplest an arbour is a garden arch with a seat placed beneath the arch, offering shade and shelter. On occasions we have seen arches that have an optional seat that you can buy later if you should change your mind!

Other arbours, particular timber ones, can be more substantial with solid sides, back and roof and offering a more generously proportioned seat. Sometimes the seat will lift up to reveal a handy storage area underneath.

At the top end of the range, a corner arbour will usually also be constructed from timber and seat up to four people in comfort. The design will often resemble a square with one side sliced off diagonally for better access and visibility.


A bit more of an obscure term, a bower is defined as "a pleasant shady place under trees" and is very similar to an arbour in that it is a structure designed for seating.

To some people the word bower seems quite interchangeable with arbour, although the bowers that we've seen for sale are usually made of metal rather than wood, and tend to be circular or semi-circular in design with a dome shape being most prevalent.

They are also more open in design and therefore suitable for growing climbing plants just as with an arch.


Garden Gazebos

A large structure designed to create a seating or dining area (they are generally sold empty, you provide the furniture). Often with a covered and weatherproof roof, gazebos can vary greatly in appearance. Sometimes the floor panel is optional.

Metal gazebos tend to be quite open with perhaps just four posts and a slatted roof, while timber ones can often have more solid sides with slatted or trellis panels.

A popular design choice for timber gazebos is the hexagonal shape usually with one side being open to form an entrance. Sometimes these gazebos will have an oriental influence and look more like mini pagodas.


Obelisks are essentially plant supports and can be either metal or timber. Pyramidal in shape, they tend to have a wider base that tapers off to the apex, and often topped with a finial or ball or some other decorative element.

They can be quite ornate and stylised, or plain, simple and modern in appearance. They vary in height from about 1.5 to 2 metres tall, but are not designed to walk through (though maybe your cat or dog might be able to manage it!)


Garden Pergolas

Another close cousin to the arch, a pergola can be thought of as a deeper arch, or perhaps several joined together (especially metal ones), to form a walkway. One major benefit is that you can encourage a much greater volume of climbing plants than with a single arch.

Some metal arches are sold as separate units, but you have the option to purchase matching fixing bars that can join them together.

Even the fairly inexpensive Wrenbury arch will allow you to easily link several together to create a nice walkway.

Some pergolas can be very large - 3m by 3m square or more and some people will place furniture underneath to create a seating or dining area. That would be during the summer though as a pergola does not usually have a covered roof!