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Creating Garden Rooms With Trellis', Arbors and Pergolas

Jean SmithThere is something evocative about walking through a rose covered arbor or dreamily strolling through the length of a blossom covered pergola... the air fresh with the scents of sweet mingling with musk... the gentle chirps of tiny birds safely nestled within the confines of the leaf covered shelter.  My arbors and pergola are grand statements, and when friends and strangers alike come into my yard, they are what say, "Welcome to my garden's, won't you stay an visit awhile..." 

There are a multitude of structures to choose from in every shape and size to fit in with any garden style you choose.  What is the difference between the three and how do you incorporate them correctly to create the illusion of having many separate garden rooms? All three have one thing in common: they are structures incorporated into gardens to provide a growing place for vining plants. Here are some tips and idea's to get you started.

*Trellis' are typically attached to a wall on a building. The goal in using a trellis is to create a semblance of living art on a wall, giving a feeling of comfortable enclosure. Varieties range between elegant wrought iron works to charming wooden arches to rustic old ladders situated in whatever shape you desire. I recently noticed a trellis on a neighboring home that was constructed of three old wooded rung type ladders. They were attached to the side of the house like this- TT - with a climbing rose growing up it. I fell in love as soon as I saw it and am now looking for either one very long or 3 shorter ladders that I can create this on the back of our garage in the Pottage over the tea bed. We just painted it an aqua blue last summer and I can already imagine a pink, old fashioned climbing rose scaling up it... always dreaming!

I have several trellis' in my gardens. Along the side of the front porch we have two 4x8 sections of lattice attached to one pillar and the side of the house that my Chinese Wisteria grows on.  I currently have an old split rail type fence on the back of the garage (what I am going to replace with the rung ladders) that again have lattice attached to give the plants something to grow on.  Along my pergola are trellis' that the roses and clematis grow up and over the top. 
Trellis' can be created by using anything... here are a few ideas to get you dreaming...
~As mentioned above, old ladders hung in any shape or form you desire.
~An antique metal head or foot board... imagine that in a lovely English Cottage garden.
~Purchased lattice from a lumber store are an easy, inexpensive and attractive trellis.
~Pre-formed trellis' can be purchased in many lovely designs.
~Create an intricate design using old metal or wooden wagon wheels.
~If you want an invisible trellis, use green baler twine. This can be purchased at most lawn and garden stores. Any type of string will work, but remember you'll have to replace each year.  Don't use natural fibers like jute because they will break down before the season is over.
~Picket or privacy fences also work as a trellis, whether affixed to a building or an arbor.
Like I always say, the only limitation is your own imagination!

*Arbors
can range from two or four post structures and are typically constructed of wood or metal.
You want an arbor to create a feeling of entering into someplace very special and magical. They work wonderfully in connecting two separate garden rooms, similar to a door in a house.  Gates added to your arbor provide mystery for the guest as they travel through.

Both of my arbors are four wooden posts with lattice attached on the sides and across the top. There is a wide range of variety for you to choose from here as well.  Once again, your garden style will determine what kind of structure you will choose.
*Pergolas are best described as several attached lengths of arbors. Imagine your pergola as a hallway through your home, possibly with door's, or in this case, arbors leading in different directions to different rooms. Enshrouded by vines and blossoms, it will give your guests a feeling of warmth and comfort.

There are a few other things to consider when designing your pergola: The length, determine if it will be straight or curving, the structure material, your 'floor', if you'll have step stones on the floor and what you will use on the sides and across the top for your plants to grow up and over. My pergola is about 40' long and about six feet wide with 4x4 wooden posts set every eight feet. We put 2x4's across the top and bottom and then used pre-made wooden trellis' that I purchased at a lumber yard for the sides. These are attached to the 2x4's every four feet. I have a hodge podge of wooden ladders across the top. The side facing the south is one length but the side to the north has an eight foot opening, or arbor, that allows you to go off to the right toward the green houses. If you keep going straight you enter into the back yard leading you to the patio. My pergola runs between the Potager and the rose garden.  I primarily have Sweet Autumn clematis', a few early blooming clematis' and several varieties of  climbing roses growing on it.  I planted a Chinese wisteria on one of the posts in the back yard. I will have one more post set to the right of it in the corner of the small herb bed that will then be a privacy wall for the back yard.

The key to adding these hard scape elements successfully into your gardens where they become free forms is to plant species that will create walls and barriers eluding to garden rooms.

Life is good, then you enter a garden,
Happy Day,
Jean
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nebraska dave
3/23/2013 2:46:05 PM

Jean, as usual there's plenty of good garden ideas from reading your blog post. I did make one trellis for my front poor man's patio a couple years ago. It's quite nice with hanging baskets and begonia filled pots up the sides. It resides in a mostly shaded area so my list of plants are limited. Have a great garden structure day.