Definition: An arbor bench is a garden seat positioned inside of an arbor wooden framework. It serves as a shady garden alcove, with sides and a roof formed by wood planks or by climbing plants trained over a wooden framework (or trellis)
Most of the designs covered in this guide are DIY kits that you can obtain and assemble yourself, and only some are custom made. You can either purchase a kit or get many different ideas on building one from the ground up. Building an arbor bench is not much more complicated than building a standalone bench. The arbor is the main structure, and the bench is attached to it with screws.
Adding an arbor seat to your backyard is a relatively simple construction project and normally should not require a permit. But you better check with your local building and zoning office as some states require permits for any types of new structures over 30″ high.
You can have them with pergola roofs, gable roofs, trellis or lattice details and storage, depending on your preference. If you want train vines then you need lattice panels that may add to the cost, otherwise you don’t really need them.
A solid roof can be a great advantage as it allows you to enjoy outdoors even under the rain and hot sun. Solid walls make it more difficult to train a vine but provide seclusion. Walls made up of trellises or lattices let you feel closer to nature but offer less privacy.
We would prefer our arbor to be a roof covered garden seat with enclosed sides, to make it feel like a real garden alcove, a shady hideaway … but you may like more a pergola style design, to enjoy the skies and to smell the climbing flowers.
While we believe that the enclosed and roofed arbor seats are simply more practical, you may prefer the pergola arbor benches for their aesthetics. They look awesome especially when covered with flowering vines for trellis (as you can see on the inspirational photos below).
You may want to have a built-in storage box under the bench, to hide cushions when not in use or to store garden tools.
Western Red cedar and pressure-treated Pine are the two most common wood types used to built arbor benches. But we’ve also found some built from Teak, Redwood (in CA) and Northern European Redwood (Spruce).
You would want to attach your structure to the ground either by the means of simple L-brackets or Super Spikes, depending on what surface it’ll be located on. Though some people choose not to attach it at all.
Also, for the most useful positioning of the arbor, take in consideration the trajectory of the sun over your garden. Either you want shadow all day or only half day.
In our effort to make sense of arbor bench design varieties, we’ve split them by construction style. Check out all possible design ideas below.