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A garden arch or arbour is an easy-to-install feature which can add essential height and interest to any garden, however large or small. Either can be a wonderful focal point, to make the garden more interesting, and a framework to support your favourite climbing plants. A garden arch can frame an entrance, an arbour could be a place to sit and enjoy the garden. At Wickes you will find plenty of possibilities to choose from, whether you have a courtyard or an extensive plot. All you need is a little imagination and you will find the right structure waiting to transform your garden.

Where does a garden arch work?

An archway makes a statement in a garden. It adds essential height and is a great alternative to a tree for this purpose in a small garden. It is much more controllable and will not outgrow the space and cast heavy shade as a tree can.

An archway looks good over a gateway or a path, as long as it is leading somewhere: perhaps to another part of the garden or a garden feature. In long, narrow gardens a dividing hedge with an archway that leads from one garden room to another makes the space more interesting and easy to manage. Instead of a long corridor with a strip of lawn flanked by borders, you could have two distinctly different areas; perhaps a patio and flower garden leading from the house, then an archway into the kitchen garden, if you grow your own. An archway covered in runner beans is a wonderful feature and one you can achieve in the first year. It looks great and it is productive too.

Alternatively you can use an archway across a pathway through screening, planting or a hedge. The archway may create the illusion that there is more to explore, when it is really a clever way of hiding the shed and the compost heap. The possibilities are endless.

The secret of success is choosing the right archway to achieve the effect you want. If you want to be able to grow heavy climbing roses over an archway, you need a robust structure. Light archways are only suitable for clematis, sweet peas and light climbers.

If the archway is positioned over a pathway, make sure it is wide enough to allow plenty of room, especially when it is draped with climbers. The Forest Garden Elgar Arch is 1870mm (6ft) wide and 2570mm (8.4ft) high so it is generous enough to fit over a pathway with plenty of width and headroom. Made from natural timber with trellis sides it looks substantial and has great presence in the garden. It would fit into most gardens, and could be painted with a wood colour to create a different effect.

For a more contemporary setting Wickes Garden Arch is perfect for a small garden. Lighter in construction it is still 1800mm (6ft) wide and 2460mm (8ft) high and comes pressure treated in a subtle light green colour. It could be left natural or painted for effect. Painted black it would have a distinctly Japanese air and would work well with stones, bamboo, ferns and Japanese maples. Perhaps you would lay stepping stones through it, or use it to frame a feature. It is rather light for a climbing rose, but would be lovely with a large flowered clematis or early flowering akebia in shade.

Making the most of your archway

To make your garden arch look more substantial and as if it belongs, leave room to plant the base of the arch; this really makes it look part of your garden. Evergreens such as euonymus, rosemary, and low growing viburnums are perfect. Arches which are only planted with climbers eventually look top-heavy. Arches always look awkward when they rise out of grass; it makes it difficult to cut around them as well.

How about a garden arbour? Another way to enjoy your garden.

A garden arbour is not only a feature and a focal point in your garden, it is also somewhere you can sit and enjoy a little seclusion, shade and shelter. An arbour is so much more than a garden seat, but less of a building than a summerhouse. It is the ideal choice if you want a useful structure that you can really integrate with the planting.

Wickes Arbour is a lovely hexagonal building with three solid sides, two balustrades and an open entrance. With a timber floor it is large enough to accommodate a table and chairs, or a couple of comfy seats that you can head for whenever you want to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Pressure treated, it comes in a light green timber colour, but is easily transformed with a wood colour. Paint it with Cuprinol Garden Shades Country Cream and it becomes an English garden classic, especially against a hedge or leafy background.

If you do decide to paint your arbour, do paint the inside as well as the outside; it will look so much more attractive.

Siting your arbour and its setting is really important. You probably want it to face the sun and shelter you from the wind, but it will look so much better with a lovely backdrop, rather than a barren fence. Just like an archway, an arbour is a chance to showcase your favourite climbers. As this is a place to sit, think fragrance. Drape it with honeysuckle, jasmine and fragrant roses and it will become even more inviting.

If you have only got a small garden, or a corner where a seat will fit, an arbour is a great possibility and a way of combining a sitting area with a garden feature. The Rowlinson Balmoral Arbour will fit neatly in a corner and will make a cosy spot to sit with a book, or combine it with a table and a couple of chairs for a space-saving four seater dining set. The right angled shape and trellis back of this arbour make it perfect to surround with planting, or to enhance with a climber or two. For paved areas, or the corner of a patio, you can achieve a similar effect with pots. Plant some with evergreens such a pittosporum to maintain year round good looks.

Changing the look

Remember, if you do paint your arbour or archway in a colour, co-ordinating the colour of the plants with the structure is a way of achieving that show garden look. Imagine your Balmoral Arbour painted in Garden Shades Summer Damson with a lovely large flowered mauve-pink clematis; delicious.