What is a pergola?
Pergolas are garden structures that form a shaded walkway or sitting area. They are made of pillars or vertical posts that support cross beams and often an open lattice. Vines and climbing plants are often grown adjacent to pergolas to give a more decorative touch and to add an opportunity for plants to thrive.
What are pergolas used for?
Pergolas are perfect backyard relaxation areas that can provide a shaded reprieve from the heat of the summer as well as a calm place to unwind year round. Perfect for entertaining, a pergola can be equipped with an array of furniture to make it a great outdoor hang out spot. With strategic placement, pergolas can add privacy to your yard, and provide the perfect structure for those with a green thumb to grow climbing plants.
These outdoor additions are decorative as well as useful and can be used to highlight your home and landscape. Installing a pergola can also add value to your home, which makes it a great investment!
What is the difference between a pergola and a gazebo?
Often confused with gazebos, arbors or pavilions, pergolas are quite different even though sometimes the names are interchangeably used.
- Arbors are usually classified as being a wooden bench seat with a roof, usually enclosed by lattice panels, different from the layout of standard pergolas.
- Gazebos are always round or octagonal in shape whilst pergolas keep to being square or rectangular. Gazebos also will have a domed roof that is supported by 8 columns, pergolas have cross beams and no roofs.
- Pavilions are multi-purpose architectural structures that are often used for entertainment purposes. Designs and sizes of pavilions vary and are commonly used for celebrations, such as parties, weddings, banquets, etc. Although the size of pergolas vary as well, a main difference is that, once again, pavilions will have a roof whereas pergolas do not.
What are pergolas made of?
The two main types of pergola materials used most commonly are cedar and vinyl.
For those going for a more natural wood look, cedar is the clear choice. Pine is another building material that is less expensive than cedar, but cedar has a longer lifespan and will absorb stain better. This longevity and ability to look prettier is what makes cedar a popular choice.
Another beautiful choice that is extremely low maintenance is vinyl. The only negatives about vinyl are that it tends to be more expensive and can possibly bend in high winds.
When constructed, both materials will be stabilized with underground concrete footing or directly anchored into existing concrete.
There seems to be an infinite amount of fantastic pergola ideas online that can provide you with inspiration for the perfect pergola. Many popular sites known for their home and garden content have photo galleries of various sizes, designs and building material so you can feel inspired from many options.
HGTV is always a go to for any home or garden décor ideas! Whether it’s from their articles or photo galleries , they can always be depended on to have the perfect look!
Another wonderful site to visit is Better Homes and Gardens. Since 1922, Better Homes and Gardens has given beautiful home inspiration to countless households in the United States and now the world. A list of pergola ideas can be found on their site as well as a gallery full of picture-perfect pergolas.
Another recommendation if you are looking for ideas is from the home classic, Southern Living, or the grand daddy of ideas, Pinterest. Just a quick search for “pergolas” on Pinterest will bring up a plethora of pergola inspiration.
Choosing your pergola
Since first rising to popularity in 17th century Italy, pergolas have been a classy addition to any outdoor space. They can be attached or detached from the home, made in a variety of sizes and can completely transform your backyard. There are a few main points that you will want to address before planning your pergola:
How much should you spend on your pergola?
As with any home improvement project, set a budget for yourself and be realistic about what you want and need. Materials and size can affect the construction cost as well as any extras you choose such as plantar boxes and seating. Fortunately, pergolas are completely customizable and can fit easily within your budget.
How big does your pergolas need to be?
If you want somewhere just to unwind at the end of the day, a small pergola will suit your needs, but if you plan on hosting events and using your pergola as a main entertainment area, take that need into consideration.
Would you like your pergola to be attached or detached from your home?
Know your home and your backyard. If drainage issues occur in specific areas or the sunlight is not what you want, keep those factors in mind when deciding on the placement of your pergola.
If concrete is not already present, a base will need to be created so that the pergola sits evenly and safely. Concrete footing will need to be poured unless concrete is already present, in which case heavy duty foot screws will be drilled into the concrete to strengthen and position the posts.
Taking care of your pergola
Just like any aspect of your home, pergolas will require occasional maintenance to ensure they look as great as possible for as long as possible. Natural wood pergolas will need to be re-stained every 2 – 5 years depending on weather conditions. Wood dries out more quickly in hot, dry weather, therefore hotter climates will affect how often your pergola needs re-staining. Conditioning stains do exist that allow the stain to last longer while also protecting the wood.
Pergolas are hardy structures, but if damage does occur, repairs can easily be made by professionals.
Pergolas are fantastic additions to any yard and will bring years of enjoyment to your home. Whether you choose large or small, wood or vinyl, a pergola will provide that perfect relaxation or entertainment spot that you’ve been looking for.