11 Rustic Garden Arbor Ideas (How To Build & Beautify)


Are you hoping to make your garden stand out with tasteful hints of rustic charm? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place. 

Today, we’re going to talk all about Rustic Garden Arbors.

So, without further delay, let’s get started!

11 Rustic Garden Arbor Ideas

  • Minimalist Craftsmanship
  • Window Frames (shabby chic, cathedral style)
  • Tree Branches
  • Driftwood
  • Upcycled Wood Planks
  • Wood Pallets
  • Wooden Ladders 
  • Pergola Design
  • Rustic Garden Signs
  • Cast Iron Hardware (hang wind chimes?)
  • Edison Lights

Minimalist Craftsmanship

If you’re going for a rustic look to your arbor, it’s really not necessary to try tackling some sort of impossibly intricate design. Less is truly more sometimes. 

minimalist arbor
Here’s an example of a minimalist arbor build you can put together yourself right at home.

Two vertical wooden planks on either side as the base, two crescent shaped top pieces to connect the base pieces on one side to the base pieces on the other side, and some smaller, vertical pieces of wood to hold it all together —and you’re done!

Simple, rustic charm.

The horizontal pieces of wood add additional surfaces for vines to climb on and for you to attach flowers and other cute accents to.

Plain old wood looks great — but so does some stain or a splash of white paint.

Regardless of what color you decide on, you’ll want to make sure that you’re treating your wood with a weather-protected coating so you don’t end up with a yucky, moldy arbor! 

Window Frames

Your friends and family are going to be amazed by your craftiness if you pull off an arbor made out of upcycled old window frames!

window frame
If you have many old window frames without glass lying around, you can use them to build your own DIY arbor.

Per usual, you’ll want to weather-protect any and all woods used outdoors.  Once you get that out of the way, the list of possibilities goes on and on!

You can lazily add hints of white, ivory, robin’s egg blue, or even olive green paint to achieve a shabby chic aesthetic! Just remember that we’re avoiding full-coverage with this technique and aiming for exposed wood. Trust me, it adds character!

Hint: when going for a shabby chic paint look, make sure there’s very little paint on your brush.  This dry-brushing technique gives wood that beautiful distressed look and adds loads of rustic charm!

Don’t forget, you’re not limited to perfectly square or rectangular window frames. Rounded or even cathedral-style windows will make an incredibly attractive addition to any rustic garden arbor!

Tree Branches

This one is stunning when done right, but also pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll keep the details short and sweet (as to not totally bore you). 

If you want an exceptionally rustic look, you can skip the wood cuts and head straight into the woods for some completely untouched tree branches that have fallen to the ground.

fallen tree branch
Here is a gold mine of branches that can be used to make your arbor.

Generally speaking, if you find sticks and branches that are taller than you, you’re on the right track. Just try to keep your branches at a similar length so everything fits together when it’s time to assemble (though you can always trim your branches if need be).

Driftwood

These arbors are the best. You’ll see a lot of these if you search for beach wedding arbors online. 

The process of making these arbors is quite similar to that of the regular tree branch arbor. Branches are branches — regardless of where you find them.

driftwood
These branches happen to be washed up on the beach, making them driftwood.

The main difference here is where you go to collect your branches. With driftwood, you’ll want to head toward the sea rather than the woods!

Driftwood is also extremely lightweight — so it’ll be easy to move from one place to the other as well as simple to work with when assembling your lovely rustic garden arbor.

driftwood beach rock
You will be astounded by how lightweight driftwood is.

Oh, another cool thing about driftwood is the way it tends to twist and turn — making it a gorgeous option for any arbor — especially a wedding ceremony arbor!

Upcycled Wood Planks

If you’re looking for a slightly (but not much) more modern look than an arbor made from sticks and branches, why not upcycle some old pieces of wood you’ve got lying around?

Those extra pieces of plywood you have sitting in your garage? Use them!

No wood should go to waste — and no wood is too ugly to upcycle (unless the wood is rotted, in which case, it’s probably time to say goodbye). 

You can find tons of different design plans for DIY arbors right on Google or Etsy.

So if you’re handy with a hammer and screwdriver, then what are you waiting for?

Wood Pallets

I’ve seen people turn wood pallets up onto their side (vertically) and use them to build extremely unique-looking garden arbors!

With this type of DIY arbor, you’ll probably have a little bit of a deeper walk through the arbor, but that’s super unique. & unique is cool.

wooden pallet
Wood pallets like this one can be used to construct the sides and top of your DIY arbor.

You can attach two vertical wood pallets (one standing on top of the other to create a nice, tall side) to create one side of your arbor.  Then, repeat the same thing on the other side before attaching them together with a fifth pallet at the top.

You’ll want to ask somebody to help you and also watch out for any stray nails or dangerous splinters.

With any outdoor wooden fixtures, you’ll need to make sure the wood is rot-resistant (or treated with a substance that makes it so). 

It may not be everyone’s style, but if you’ve got some pallets lying around and this style fits in with your rustic arbor vision, you should definitely go for it!

wooden pallet painted white
You can even paint your pallets white if you are going for that clean and whimsical look.

Wooden Ladders 

If you’ve realized that I’ve talking about wooden ladders a couple of times before, it’s because I absolutely love the cute, rustic appeal to wooden ladders. 

wooden garden ladder
You can take multiple old wooden ladders and fuse them together to create the perfect rustic arbor.

(Yes, you caught me. I am among the ladder-obsessed). 

Wooden ladders will make perfect sides and sturdy tops for any homemade garden arbor. They’re wooden rods also make them extremely practical for grape vines or any other nearby plants that like to climb.

& even if you don’t have plants that do a lot of climbing, you can still use the rods of your arbor to hang a few trinkets or hanging planters!  You can even use a mason jar planter (or many of them) with jute twine tied tightly around the jar on one end and attached to your arbor at the other end! 

Pergola Design

Who doesn’t love a classic pergola?  

Now, it seems like pergola-style arbors are becoming more and more popular. I’ve particularly seen a lot of these at different wedding venues.

You can dive into a pergola-style DIY design using many of the materials we’ve already mentioned.  To find a perfect mix between rustic and sophisticated, I would recommend staining your wood and treating it with tung oil or poly after building your arbor. 

Side note: the Etsy seller, LINEAARTS, sells wonderful garden and pergola designs for those of you who love to build things yourself, but just need a bit of guidance! You can check out their incredibly clever garden bench/pergola/arbor-hybrid design here.

arbor bench plan Etsy
Garden arbor meets trellis meets bench with this stunning design from LINEAARTS.

Rustic Garden Signs

If you’re looking for a rustic garden entry sign for your arbor — look no further than the PersonifyGift shop on Etsy! Their signs are handmade with poplar plywood, sealed with lacquer to increase outdoor-friendliness, and made-to-order with your special, personal touches in mind! 

They’re perfect if you’re looking for rustic with an added touch of class!

Here’s our favorite sophisticated and rustic garden sign from PersonifyGift:

PersonifyGift Etsy jungle garden sign
We’re swooning over this garden sign from the PersonifyGift shop on Etsy. The owner of this shop frequently has sales going on that are hard to resist — and even after a sale has ended, you can score 10% off on most items when you use the code LoveIt

Cast Iron Hardware

Cast iron hardware (when properly treated with wax or some other anti-rusting agent) will make a pretty awesome addition to any rustic garden arbor. 

iron fittings
You can find cast iron hardware like this right at your local home improvement store.

A few flanges, elbows, and rods and you’re ready to rock! I especially think these are great for hanging wind chimes, galvanized accents (like your watering can), or even some of your gardening tools! (Just watch out with where you put sharp tools that could fall and hurt you, your family, or your plant-friends!

Edison Lights

Such a groovy addition to any rustic arbor or garden setting!

Edison lights add a touch of hipster flare as well as that warm-lit ambience that really makes you want to stay outside long after the sun goes down.

Edison lights
Edison-style lights can really warm up the vibe in your garden.

Remember, they don’t have to be Edison lights if you’re more of a globe light or holiday light type of person.

The only things that really matter when setting up string lights is that you install them safely and that you get all the warm, cozy vibes your heart desires!

string lights
My personal favorite, bulb lights, add a warm ambience that your guests will enjoy.

Conclusion

I’d say you’re in pretty good shape to design the rustic garden arbor of your dreams! We’re happy to know that your garden paradise will soon be even more stylish and innovative!

I wish you a lifetime of bountiful harvests and successful building!

Happy planting!

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by LMadGz! If so, please share it with someone who might also like to read it.

You can also read about some Unique & Unusual Garden Trellis Ideas here.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

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