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Forest Garden Arbours 

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What is an arbour exactly?

  Diagram of Forest Garden arbour  

An arbour can take many forms and is often confused with a pergola or gazebo. Our definition of an arbour is essentially a wooden garden bench seat with a roof, usually enclosed by trellis panels to the side and rear that form a framework for climbing plants.

Arbours have become increasingly popular in recent years as space-saving alternatives to gazebos or pavilions. 


What's the difference between an arbour, a pergola and a gazebo?


A pergola is much bigger than an arbour and doesn't include integral seating. It may be freestanding or attached to a house wall, and is designed mainly to provide a structured area for outdoor dining and relaxation.

Most have upright supporting posts and flat or curved overhead rafters to encourage climbing plants, although some may have a slatted pavilion-style roof that offers greater protection from the weather.

  Diagram of Ultima Pergola kit  
  Diagram of Burford gazebo  

By most definitions, a gazebo is a large stand-alone building, often hexagonal or octagonal in shape, with a solid or slatted roof - rather like a bandstand.

Its sides are usually left partly or completely open to allow a wide view over the garden. Many have integral floors, latticework side panels, balustrades and built-in seating.    


Planning for your garden arbour


An arbour can make a great focal point for any garden. Whether in a shady corner or a sunny spot, it'll give you a private place to relax - perhaps enjoying coffee or a glass of wine, reading the latest bestseller, chatting or just luxuriating in some quality 'you' time. 

Wonkee Donkee Forest Garden's arbours are straightforward to put together and don't even need coating with preservative as they're made from pressure-treated timber, which is maintenance-free and guaranteed against rot for 15 years. You'll be able to paint or stain your arbour to match other garden features if you wish, or just enjoy its natural colouring. To find out more see: Forest Garden Timber Treatment and Guarantee.


Location, location, location

  Venetian arbour on lawn  

Before you splash the cash, take time to plan where you're going to put the arbour. Look for a sunny spot facing south or west if your garden shape allows it. And take account of any plants already growing in that area - will they be able to survive in the extra shade cast by a new structure? 

Wind direction is also important. If possible, try to find a spot where the arbour can stand with its back to the prevailing wind to give occupants maximum protection from the weather.


Size matters


Measure your preferred spot carefully to see what size arbour will fit, perhaps leaving a small gap either side for pots of flowers or climbing plants.

Don't forget to measure the height as well - most arbours are quite tall, and any overhanging trees could damage the roof or upper sections.

  Sienna arbour measurements  

 Style and substance

  Sienna and Lyon arbours  

Look for an arbour that will fit in with your style of house and other garden features. You might prefer a contemporary shape if you live in a modern property, or a more rustic-looking model to suit a cottage setting. All our arbours can be painted or re-stained a different colour if required.

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  Some arbours offer more privacy and shelter than others, so if your garden is overlooked you may want to go for a model protected by tightly framed latticework, or even solid timber walls and roof.    Venetian and Limoge arbours  

 Mind the gap

  Plants growing through large trellis  

The size of the gaps in the latticework can make a difference if you're intending to cover the arbour with climbers.

Plants such as honeysuckle or roses would look great twined around a large open trellis, but might struggle to fit through the holes in close-knit framing. Nasturtiums, sweet peas and smaller types of clematis are more suitable for tight latticework.


Large garden arbours


When the weather turns hot you'll find some of the bigger arbours perfect for al fresco dining, parties and barbecues with friends - and most of them offer protection from our wonderful British weather too. 

If outdoor dining, barbecues and parties are important to you, consider the popular Garden / BBQ shelter

Its solid timber roof will keep you dry, and it has a patented design providing excellent ventilation for barbecue smoke and odours.

  Garden and barbecue shelter  
  Close up of barbecue shelter  

There are wide handrails for popping down glasses and plates, and plenty of room for guests to mingle. The shelter is made of pressure treated timber, which needs no annual recoating and is guaranteed against rot for 15 years. And all the wood is FSC certified (from sustainable forests). 

As for safety, you needn't worry about your barbecue setting the shelter alight because the whole structure has been given a fire retardant finish.


The elegant Venetian corner arbour seat can also be a sociable space, if you choose to share it, with room for up to four occupants and a wide field of view over the garden. Just set it up in a corner with its back to the prevailing wind to create a snug yet decorative hideaway.

Weatherwise, the arbour's Venetian style slatted roof gives you the best of both worlds. It lets light through, making it perfect for relaxing with a good book or just enjoying the sunshine, but will allow rain to run off if things turn ugly.   

  Forest Venetian arbour  
  Burford half arbour  

The good-sized Half Burford arbour can be regarded as a halfway house between an arbour and a gazebo. It can seat three or four people with ease and features an attractively classical design.

There are three built-in benches and an integral timber floor, with space for a small table in the middle - perfect for afternoon tea, or summer evening drinks. 


If you're looking for a more open design take a look at the spacious Sorrento arbour, which is made to fit in a corner of the garden and will comfortably seat four people. 

It includes overhead rafters and side trellis panels to support climbing plants and vines - so you'll be able to enjoy some dappled shade on hot summer days, and a fragrant seating area in the evenings.  

  Sorrento arbour  

Small and medium garden arbours

  Cadiz arbours  

Of course, not everyone has an enormous expanse of garden, and there are many arbours suitable for more restricted spaces. 

The compact Cadiz offers a quiet place to retreat without dominating its surroundings. It has a solid roof and back panel for protection from the elements, while lattice panels at the sides give an open feel so you don't feel hemmed in.


For more privacy consider the stylish Limoge arbour, which is completely enclosed - perfect for getting away from the world, and particularly suitable for windswept gardens which lack natural shelter. 

Like Forest Garden's other arbours, it's delivered unpainted for you to choose your own colour scheme or leave in its natural state.  

  Limoge arbours painted and unpainted  
  Palermo arbours from different angles  

At just 144cm wide, the Palermo arbour is the narrowest structure in the range so will fit neatly into most gardens.

With a height of 212cm it is quite tall and offers large areas of trellis to encourage climbing plants, along with a solid roof for protection against the weather.    


The elegant Parisienne arbour has an attractive upwardly curving roof and diamond-shaped latticework at the sides and rear to support climbing plants.

It is only 154cm wide, so won't take up too much space, and makes an ideal place to relax and unwind.

  Parisienne arbour  
  Sienna arbours  

A little wider than some other compact arbours, the Sienna provides a comfy place to sit out.

The back and sides are made of large diagonal lattice so you can grow climbing plants for their shade and scent. 


The rustic-looking Lyon arbour combines style and practicality, with a handy storage box under the seat and a solid roof to protect you from the weather. 

The sides and back are made up of close-knit diamond-shaped lattice panels which would be ideal for slender climbing plants such as sweet peas, nasturtiums and smaller varieties of clematis.   

  Lyon arbour  
  Whitby arbour  

If you're after a striking focal point for your garden, take a look at the Whitby arbour. Based on the famous whalebone arch which stands on Whitby seafront, it includes a hinged bench seat which lifts up to provide convenient (although not waterproof) storage for outdoor equipment.

The arbour is made from pressure-treated timber and comes with a 15-year anti-rot guarantee. Measuring around 2.5m high and 1.5m wide (roughly 8ft 5in by 5ft), it is free-standing but can also be placed against a wall or fence. 

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