Garden Arbour and Pergola Buying Guide
May 17, 2024

Arbours and pergolas make stunning features for your garden or patio. Commonly made from wood, they have a lovely rustic charm and can add a whole new dimension to your outdoor living space. In this buying guide we’ll explain what exactly an arbour and a pergola is, the key features and some of our best designs to help you choose one that’s right for you.

What is a pergola?

A pergola is an open structure that’s used mainly as a statement piece. Ideal for use on a patio or decking, they usually feature cross beams along the top which allow for plenty of fresh air to flow through, and which you can add climbing plants to in order to form a natural canopy. Some pergolas come with fabric canopies for those who prefer more shade.

Key features at a glance:

  • Mainly used for decoration
  • Typically square or rectangular and large enough to cover a garden dining set
  • Has cross beams along the top on which to add climbing plants, or on some designs, a fabric canopy

What is an arbour?

A garden arbour is seating area with an arched or pointed roof to give you some shelter from the sun. Like pergolas, they make great statement pieces, but they have more practical value given that they provide an outdoor seating area and sometimes garden storage.

Key features at a glance:

  • Provides a seating area for your garden
  • Has an arched or pointed roof to shield you from the sun
  • Sometimes has a storage feature
  • Some designs can be used to cover barbecues

Types and features of a garden arbour

An arbour is more than just a garden seat - it can provide handy outdoor storage space, allow you to grow climbing plants on it or even cover your barbecue at garden parties. Read on to learn about everything they have to offer. 


Some designs feature a handy storage box underneath where you can store your cushions, blankets, children’s toys or even garden equipment.

View the Zest4Leisure Hampshire Garden Arbour with Storage Box >

Swing seat or static?

Most arbours are static but you can get some models that incorporate a swing seat to really enhance your outdoor living space. These are great if you enjoy the rocking motion of swings but prefer the quaint appearance of arbours.

View the Rowlinson Dartmouth Garden Swing Seat >

Regular or corner design?

Some garden arbours are designed so that they fit neatly into corners. These are usually a little bigger than regular models as they have two sides to stretch out in rather than one. The Rowlinson Balmoral is one of our best garden arbours.

View the Rowlinson Balmoral Corner Arbour >


If you prefer the painted look but don’t enjoy the hassle of DIY, you can buy a pre-painted one. The Rowlinson Modena is another of our bestsellers thanks to its contemporary colouring and striking arched roof.

View the Rowlinson Modena Garden Arbour >

Trellis or latticed sides

A common feature of many arbours, trellis is often seen on the sides and sometimes the roof. It gives you the option of adding climbing plants for an attractive finish, though it also looks great left as it is.

View the Forest Garden Lyon Arbour with Storage Box >

Arbour for barbecues

If you get the right design, you can even use your arbour to cover your barbecue if you like to host summer parties. Great for keeping the showers off your grill, they’re designed to be fire-retardant to keep it extra safe, and some come with handy side tables for your plates and drinks.

View the Rowlinson Wooden Party Arbour >

How to treat and maintain a garden arbour or pergola

Painting and maintaining a garden arbour or pergola is just the same as treating a shed, or any other garden furniture. Read our guide on how to treat a shed to find out exactly how to paint and treat them, step by step, along with our guide on how to care for garden furniture to help you out with regular maintenance.


Browse all arbours and pergolas >