The materials are readily available
Simple arbor provides support for sweet autumn clematis. The structure’s unfinished wood will weather to a silvery gray to better complement the golden spires of Ligularia stenocephala ‘The Rocket.’
Photo/Illustration: Delilah Smittle
To keep the project affordable, I used inexpensive pine and Douglas fir for everything except the vertical pieces that will be partially buried in the ground. For these, I used pressure-treated wood that lasts for years before it begins to rot. As an alternative, you could waterproof the upright parts with a preservative. For a more attractive look, you could build the arbor of cedar or redwood. Cedar construction boosts the cost for materials a bit; redwood would be even more expensive. You should be able to get the rest of the materials—carriage bolts, nuts, and washers, as well as some sand and gravel—at a local lumberyard. To help prevent moisture damage to the finished arbor, use galvanized nails; they won’t rust and stain the wood. You can finish the arbor with paint or stain if you wish, but I think it looks good and requires less maintenance if simply left to weather.
Whichever type of wood you use, plan on spending the better part of a day building the arbor, and figure on another half day to dig the holes and put the structure into place. You’ll need a toolbox equipped with a circular saw, an electric or cordless drill and a 3/8-inch bit that can drill a hole at least 7 inches deep, a spade or post-hole digger, a combination square, a tape measure, a chisel, a hammer, a carpenter’s level, and a wrench.