Adding an arbor to your yard—especially if the space typically receives full sun—can be an excellent way to create much-needed shade. In addition, arbors are an attractive way to add interest to your outdoor space, and they can also serve as a place to train climbing flowers, vegetables, and other plants. If you’re relatively handy, arbor installation isn’t too difficult, and neither is its maintenance. Read on for some simple tips.

Don’t try to work alone. Arbors can be custom designed and constructed from scratch with raw materials, or you can purchase a kit from an outdoor supply or home improvement store. Regardless of your choice, certain steps of the building and installation process—wrestling parts of the structure into an upright position and moving the arbor into its final location, for example—will be difficult to complete by yourself. Don’t risk hurting yourself or damaging the arbor or your home. Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to help you.

Don’t skip the concrete. Wood—even pressure-treated varieties—will eventually rot when it remains in contact with damp soil. To prevent this from happening to your arbor, sink the structure’s support posts into concrete. You can certainly pour concrete directly into the post holes, but if you’re concerned about the end result looking less than polished, purchase biodegradable concrete forms from a home improvement store. These forms will keep the concrete in place while you do the rest of the work, and there’s no need to remove them because they will eventually break down on their own.

Practice proper care for the arbor’s material. The level of maintenance your structure requires will be dictated in large part by the material you choose. If you decide to go with a metal or wrought iron arbor, your arbor maintenance duties will be limited to periodically applying a coat of paint to guard against rust and corrosion. If you’d prefer a plastic or vinyl arbor, the level of maintenance will be almost nonexistent. A wooden arbor should be stained or sealed as part of the installation process, and that procedure may need to be repeated periodically depending on the climate and how the wood weathers. Regardless of which material you choose, make sure that your arbor stays sturdy and safe by checking any bolts, screws, or other jointed pieces several times per year.

Carefully watch climbing plants. Arbors are perfect places to grow a variety of climbing plants, and since these plants are designed to climb up and around different structures, their root systems are typically very light. With the addition of fruits or vegetables, however, there may be some added weight. Although it’s unlikely that a healthy pole bean plant will cause your arbor to topple to the ground, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on the structure when you harvest your produce. If any part of the structure appears to be bowing or seems to be otherwise compromised, it may be time to prune the plant a bit.

With a little planning and periodic maintenance, an arbor can be a beautiful part of your yard and a calming, shady spot to relax. 

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Sources:;; The San Francisco Gate.

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