What’s the Difference and Which One Is Right for Your Backyard?


A lot of people sometimes mistaken a pergola for an arbor and vice versa. Who wouldn’t? These garden structures are alike in appearance and in the fundamental foundation. However, these two have a slight difference when it comes to usage. The size and the capacity of the structures are also different.

Pergola is a word derived from the Late Latin word “pergula”. which refers to a projecting eave. The term “pergola” came from John Evelyn’s observation of a cloister at Trinita dei Monti Church in Rome. When he encountered Philip Herbert, the fifth Earl of Pembroke, Evelyn mentioned the word “Pergola” to describe a structure built near Salisbury, similar to what he saw in Rome. From then on, the Italian word “Pergola” was adopted by the English language.

Arbor, on the other hand, came from the early Egyptian and Roman gardens. It is believed that its arrival in Europe happened back in the 16th century. People called it “herbere” which is an old French for grass. The English language adopted it as “Arbor”.

 The Similarities

Pergolas and arbors and both similar in a lot of things. Both structures are often seen in the gardens, patios, and parks. Both structures are often made from wood or metal. Both are decorated with climbing plants such as vines and hanging plans that offer colorful flowers. Both structures are meant to support plants and make alternative roofing and shadings out of the leaves. The plant decorations can also be omitted for both structures. The difference lies in the usage and capacity.

Usage of Pergola

Pergolas are usually made with wooden structures and have a lot of support beams. These support beams don’t have the cross beams that an arbor got. The vines crawl to the support beams and thrive in the roofing made out of wood and are often flat. However, it is not rare to see pergolas that have arched roofing. This style is commonly used for more aesthetic value. If vines are not desired, alternative roofing such as a cloth is used. Because of its spacious capacity, a lot of people are using these structures to host a casual party. These structures are also found beside pools, not only on gardens and backyards. You can also connect a pergola structure via one side in a house to use as an extension. Pergolas are also used as walkways via additional support beams.

Usage of Arbor

Arbors usually consist of only two support beams and single roofing. The size of its capacity is also not in that spacious, unlike that of a pergola. These structures can be decorated with vines like the pergola, but it is often surrounded by plants in pots. Arbors are small when compared to pergolas because of its purpose. This structure is characterized by two support beams and is perfect for a garden entrance. There’s a lot of variations when it comes to arbors, some of them sporting four supports and an arc for roofing. Some people attach their arbors on their fences. Arbors can also be used as an entrance for the patio itself.