Trellis, Arbor, Pergola, Gazebo

We’ve all heard the words, but it is easy to confuse trellises, arbors, pergolas, and gazebos. That’s partly because they have a number of things in common. For instance:

  • They all use lattices for both beauty and functionality.
  • They are all superb ways of supporting flowering and fruiting vines.
  • They can all contribute to summer shade, privacy, and practicality in the yard and garden.

Given these benefits, consider what makes each special, functional, and possibly a great choice for your landscape design.

Nantucket Wall Trellis
from Penn Fencing

Trellises are simplest. They are usually two-dimensional panels of open lattice that can both support vines and, in some applications, provide privacy. They can be attached to the house to decorate a wall. Some trellises not only support plants from the ground up, but have additional planters at higher levels—giving greater height and sometimes creating a “green wall.” Trellises are sometimes stationed in a free-standing location as a privacy screen or a plant support.

Nantucket II Arbor
from Penn Fencing

Arbors are archways comprised of multiple trellises and an open, lattice roof. They are often used to frame a gate or path, and can provide an attractive, inviting focal point. They support vines of all types, from woody varieties such as roses and wisteria to annual flowering vines such as morning glories.

Pergola from Penn Fencing

Pergolas use the same open-lattice concept as arbors, but over much larger areas. Some pergolas are attached to buildings, acting as sun-breakers and vine supports. Others are free-standing archways, often covering pathways. Some pergolas connect two structures, offering a shaded walk. When covered with vines, pergolas provide protection from light rain.

Pergolas have a long history in western architecture, starting with the Romans. The Latin word pergula refers to an eave that projects from a building. The concept has been used for centuries as a way of blocking sun during the summer months, while allowing sun during the winter when the sun is lower in the sky.

10' Gazebo built from Penn Fencing Kit

Gazebos, in the most fundamental sense, are small pavilions. They may be as simple as a roof above poles, but most are considerably more ornamental. The most popular gazebos today for home landscapes are eight-sided, covered by multiple lattice patterns, and protected by a fully enclosed roof. In addition to extensive lattice work around the eight sides, they often have screens and doors to keep them insect-free and extend their usefulness throughout the warm seasons. They are a wonderful way to create a private outdoor space.