Iron gazebo, pagoda, pavilion, arbour, kiosk, belvedere, cabana or pergola? Deciding on a garden structure can be confusing. Many people say they’d like a pergola but what they really want is an arbour. Are they the same thing? - Strictly speaking - No. What is an arbour anyway? – Is it a trellis, an archway or just a type of pergola? This article reveals all, packed with hints and tips to help you choose the right metal structure for your garden.

The addition of a covered garden structure is done for many reasons; here are just a few:

1.Aesthetics - giving an otherwise flat, dull looking landscape height or a focal point. They can then be decorated as you so choose with colourful, fragrant trailing plants or hangers.

2.Function – Pergolas and arbours can provide a structure to grow trailing plants or vines. Many people use iron gazebos or pergolas to enclose spa, dining or barbeque areas.

3.Pleasure - extending your outdoor living space by offering a pleasant, sheltered place to relax. An iron Gazebo for example can be a haven - a quiet, tranquil lounge area just off the garden. Use it to escape at the end of a busy day -get some fresh air, read a book, enjoy the sunset or some family time.

I Shall Gaze

Despite the fact that no-one knows the exact word origin of ‘gazebo’ – this just sums it up – in Macaronic Latin the word gazebo means "I shall gaze.” An iron gazebo is a peaceful place to lounge, and absorb the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Popular in warm climates, they have been used throughout the ages; similar structures were described in ancient Chinese and Persian literature.

Gazebos almost always have a covered, dome or turreted shaped roof, with open sides and supporting pillars or columns. They are often octagonal but can be any shape, round or square. Iron gazebos are often confused with pergolas - the main difference being that a pergola normally has flat rafters and an open roof.

You’ll often find iron gazebos in public parks and gardens – also known as pavilions. Confusing isn’t it! The main thing that distinguishes the gazebo from other structures is its covered, dome-type roof. This makes it ideal for more practical uses such as enclosing your spa. An iron gazebo will also make an impressive feature point due to its more grand appearance.

An Overhanging Eave or Projection….

…according to the Latin word “pergula,” is the oldest definition of a pergola. Originally the pergola was used to cover walkways and to grow grape vines from. It then became somewhat of a status symbol in the gardens of Renaissance Italy.

The pergola is a shaded outdoor space; defined as a set of columns or posts that support a roof of open framed joists, beams or trelliswork. The roof of a pergola is flat, often with trellis for climbers, trailers and vines to grow, along the sides. Thus, a shaded area for sitting, dining or relaxing is created.

Just like the iron gazebo - It creates an outdoor garden room that can become an extension of your home. It can be freestanding or attached to a structure, providing shade and architectural interest to your outdoor space. It can stand alone, naked. However to soften the structure and make it blend into landscape, it is very popular to add plants such as bougainvillea, jasmine or grapes. When decorated with brightly coloured foliage it can really become a stunning focal point to your garden and the harsh lines of the bare structure will disappear.


The Old French word ‘erbier’ (meaning garden) and a similar Latin phrase were exploited by English writers to produce the modern word arbour. An arbour is basically a trellising structure, with an arched or flat roof. In days gone by, arbours were used to tame the unruly plants. Nowadays, they tend to take the form of metal garden archways, their primary function being aesthetics.

Many individuals use them to adorn entryways to a garden or pathway. An arbour has an arched top and it’s customary to have vines growing up the trellis work forming the sides of the structure. Hence, this creates a stunning entrance-way to your garden.

Rarer, although not unheard of, are larger style arbours which can be blamed for causing the confusion between an iron gazebo and pergola. These larger metal archways can be used for shade or seating, you may have seen them over garden swings or small seating areas.

Wrought iron furniture and structures like these offer many perks– whether it’s for entertaining, to add a feature or focal point or simply to provide an outdoor space where you can sit and read a book. After reading this, you ought to feel a little more knowledgeable about which garden structure you require. Or, at least you’ll know whether you ought to type iron gazebo, arbour or pergola into Google.

Avi Reisman works on the design team at Metal Design Furniture Ltd.  Avi’s articles on interior design, landscaping, garden furniture, iron gazebo and metal work are a must read for anyone considering investing in a feature piece of metal garden furniture for their home.

Metal Design Furniture Ltd, based in London, produce quality metal furniture; using a merger of advanced robotic technology with traditional handicraft.  The result is high-end, exquisite metal furniture that will stand the test of time.  Furniture is all manufactured in Europe, and they retail their furniture all across the UK.

Far from being mass produced, many of their products have handcrafted details and finishes.  In fact, you can customise every piece online before buying with options of colours, sizes and styles.  For more information visit

Author's Bio: 

Avi Reisman works on the design team at Metal Design Furniture Ltd. Avi’s articles on interior design, landscaping, garden furniture and metal work are a must read for anyone considering investing in a feature piece of metal furniture for their home.