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What is a Garden Arch?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 16, 2024
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A garden arch is a structure made of wood, metal, and occasionally stone that often serves to mark the entrance to an outdoor leisure area or a garden path. In some cases, a garden arch is set up in the center of a garden in order to create a focal point. This may be done for aesthetic purposes or for an event such as a wedding or outdoor musical performance. When a garden arch is used as an entrance to a garden, it is usually a simple open portal, but there are cases in which the arch has built-in gates that swing open to allow people through. There are a number of garden arch designs that vary quite a bit in the types of materials that are used and the overall style of the structure.

In the most classic examples, a garden arch has two straight sections on either side and a gently curved arch that tops the structure. There are variations that include a flat-top section, a top that resembles a pitched roof, and a top that is curved to form a very severe arch. There are some cases in which the top section of a garden arch is formed to resemble the roofs that are associated with classic Chinese architecture. The choice of the shape and style of a garden arch is usually directly connected with the overall aesthetic goals of the owner of the garden. Sometimes gardeners will choose arches that can support the growth of climbing vines.

When a garden arch is installed in an outdoor space, it is usually meant to be a permanent structure. This is especially true of arches that are made of stone and in the cases that the arch is meant to support the growth of plants. There are occasions in which an arch is a temporary or mobile structure. There are some companies that rent out structures like garden arches to be used during outdoor events and ceremonies. These kinds of garden arches are designed so that they can be easily assembled and easily broken down and removed from the site.

There are even garden arches that are made of impermanent materials. Outdoor summer weddings, for example, sometimes use garden arches made of balloons to mark the aisle. There have even been cases in which arches have been made out of ice for winter events.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By Animandel — On Apr 03, 2014

I like the arches that give the effect that they are in fact the doorways to the gardens. An arch like this makes the garden appear like a contained environment, separate from the surrounding area. In other words, the garden is like an outside room. This effect is best created by the heavy and sturdy wood arches.

You can find simple plans online detailing what you will need in terms of lumber and tools to make one of these types of arches. Actually, I prefer to get one already assembled or one that fits together with little work. You can also find plenty examples of these types online.

By Sporkasia — On Apr 02, 2014

Garden arches add another element to a garden. I think variety is what makes for the most attractive and interesting gardens. With a little help, I have been able to build and erect several garden arches over the years.

There are many ways to erect your arch. The important thing to remember is to make sure the foundation of the structure is well supported. I used four saplings, which I cut from a wooded area on my property, to form the skeleton of my last arch. I dug almost a foot into the ground to make a hole for each of the four saplings. This is deeper than I needed, but I like to err on the side of caution.

I was able to bend the saplings so that two of the trees formed an arch in front of the second two, placed slightly in back of the first two. The second two formed a separate arch. When I attached the trees to one another with wire and then covered them with bundles of sticks and twigs to fill out the arches, I had one arch with more depth, instead of two. Once the ivy I planted grew and covered the arch, the structure looked perfect, and natural.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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