Save money by building an eco-friendly bamboo arbor for your wedding ceremony. Bamboo is an environmentally friendly sustainable grass that grows in abundance. It’s very affordable and easy to use. Its light and strong constitution make it an ideal material for building an arbor so easy, that it can even be assembled at destination weddings while on-site.
Create an arbor measuring 7 feet tall by 7 feet wide by 7 feet deep using eight bamboo poles. Four 3-inch diameter by 8-foot-tall poles will be used as your arbor base supports, of which 1 foot of each pole will be staked into the ground upon setup to prevent the arbor from falling or blowing away. Four 1 5/8-inch diameter by 7-foot-long crosshatch poles will be used across the top of the arbor determining its width and depth.
Cut any unnecessary length from poles. Remember to overestimate the height of the base poles to accommodate for length that will be posted into the ground. When cutting, consider that bamboo is hollow in the center and be careful to prevent cracking or shedding. Use a power saw or hand saw with a fine tooth blade.
Remove any remaining nodes from the extremities of bamboo poles to reduce the possibility of splitting from contraction and expansion brought on by climate changes. Using a rod, ram down the center of the node for easy removal.
Drill a hole through the top of each support pole 4 inches down from the upper end. Holes should be large enough to accommodate crosshatch bamboo-pole diameters.
Drill another hole of the same size into the top of each support pole directly underneath and perpendicular to the last hole.
Mock up arbor by inserting crosshatch poles into base poles. Front and back crosshatch poles should be parallel to one another, as should side crosshatch poles.
Add security by marking where bamboo poles intersect, disassembling and drilling quarter-inch holes through intersections to accommodate a wooden-dowel fastener. Wooden dowels will act as screws, and should be long enough to accommodate the width of the widest piece of bamboo for which it will be securing.
Moisture-proof all bamboo for enhanced resistance against possible humidity or rain by cleaning with a mild detergent, coating with equal parts linseed oil and paint-thinner mixture to remove oils and finishing with a clear polyurethane coating. Let dry.
Reassemble arbor. Squeeze glue into quarter-inch hole sites and insert wooden dowels. Let dry. Reinforce intersections with twine or similar material, if desired.
Decorate your arbor. Drape organza and/or greenery. Pin, wire, tape, tie or zip-tie embellishments. Use fishing line, florists tape, craft wire, twine or ribbon. Add wood branches and twigs into the top corners of your bamboo arbor for designer webbing and decorate with fresh or fake flowers, hand-folded white paper cranes or origami lilies.
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Gretchen Martin is a creative professional offering services as an artist, actress, voice-over talent, writer, video producer and editor. In addition to appearances on HGTV’s “Craft Lab” and “Designing Your Future," she has traveled across the country as a field correspondent for ATSN television. Her work can be found on www.littlepearlsstudio.com.