Pergolas are much larger than arbors, and they date back to ancient Greece and Rome. The word pergula means “projection” in Italian, referring to the fact that the original wood structures projected from exterior walls into Roman gardens, where they were supported by columns or pillars.

Pergolas, which are typically not freestanding, define outdoor spaces without blocking breezes and provide a moderate amount of shade. The amount of shade will shift throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. Pergolas are composed of four or more columns or posts, which are topped with a roof-like structure covered in beams and open rafters. Sometimes homeowners will top the roof-like structure with a retractable canopy, which provides more coverage on sunny and rainy days. To further modernize this age-old structure, you might explore more contemporary designs and materials. However, you also can’t go wrong with a classic pergola.

Some pergolas feature latticework panels, also known as trellises. Like the lattice found on arbors, the latticework on pergolas can support climbing flowers and plants. Adding plants to your pergola can also provide a greater level of shade protection, as they will crawl up the latticework, posts, and/or columns and across the beams/rafters, filling in a lot of the holes.

To further define the space created by a pergola, you can add curtains. You can tie down the curtains or allow them to sway in the breeze. If you want to spend time in the pergola at night, you might also wish to add lights, which can be hung from or wrapped around the structure.

Finally, pergolas can also be used to create long, covered walkways. For example, the Rose Pergola at Kew Gardens in London is a long pergola with many columns that supports gorgeous, rambling roses. It makes for a lovely stroll, especially in June, when the flowers are at their peak.

Homeowners who have discovered the merits of relaxing and entertaining in their backyards are often considering the next enhancement they can add to their outdoor space. Backyard enthusiasts crave continued improvements, as each adds beauty, visual appeal, and an opportunity for enjoyment. Landscape enhancements help create a mood or personality for your home and they extend your family’s warmth and hospitality. If you are considering the next addition to your landscape, consider installing a pergola shdes. Here’s why:

If you have already installed a deck or patio, you likely added it to extend your living space beyond the walls of your home. If you have found that you love your outdoor living area but that it’s not quite so useful on a summer afternoon when the sun is beating down or if you wish you had protection from inclimate weather, a It Was may be for you. He extends your living space and increases the amount of time you can spend outside. Designed and oriented correctly on your lot, a pergola can cast enough light shade to make even a warm afternoon enjoyable or if you still need additional protection, you can install a retractable shade cover for more shade. Some shade covers will even protect you from a light rain, perfect for those unpredictable summer storms.

When you decide to add a pergola to your landscape the first thing you’ll need to decide is, “custom or kit?” A local landscape professional can help you design a pergola from scratch and can custom build it right in your backyard or you can purchase a kit from one of the many well-known manufacturers in the U.S. You won’t have the same design flexibility—you’re typically limited to rectangles and fixed dimensions—but all the parts will be delivered to your home for your landscape professional to assemble and install.

Your next decision will be materials. There are a variety of materials to consider and all come with advantages and disadvantages:

A pressure-treated wood pergola is often your least expensive option. They’ll have a reasonable lifespan but pressure-treated lumber can warp, crack, and check over time. This type of pergola generally looks best if painted or stained.

 Cedar (typically Western Red Cedar) is a popular choice for pergolas. It’s naturally insect resistant and looks beautiful right from the sawmill. You can leave it untreated to turn a soft silver gray, or stain and seal it to hold its color. A cedar pergola is more expensive than a pressure-treated pergola, but you’ll typically get a longer serviceable lifespan from cedar.

If you’re looking for a pergola that requires very little maintenance, vinyl is certainly worth consideration. You cannot easily paint a vinyl pergola, however, so your color choices are limited. 

Fiberglass pergolas are generally the most expensive way to go, but they come with significant benefits. Because fiberglass is so strong, you can span much longer distances without posts, (in some cases, about 20 feet) giving you a cleaner look). Fiberglass can be painted any color you want, and the paint will hold up better than on wood. Finally, fiberglass pergolas are perfect for adding to either a deck or existing patio. Due to their light weight, fiberglass pergolas don’t require the same deep footers as other materials dictate.

The real magic happens on many a pergola once the tools are packed up and it begins providing both form and function to your outdoor living space. Pergolas provide support for everything from chandeliers and ceiling fans (check with your landscape designer first, please!) to small speakers, strings of lights, even fabric. You’re only limited by your imagination.

It extend your outdoor space, offer a variety of design options, and can be tailored to fit even a modest budget. If you’re in search of a way to create an outdoor oasis, one that offers energy or tranquility (or both), a pergola might be the perfect enhancement to your deck or patio.

First, before we dig into the many benefits of a pergola, let’s discuss the structure and purpose of this architectural feature. A pergola is an archway commonly found in gardens, parks, and yards. It consists of a framework of vertical posts or pillars that typically support crossbeams and an open lattice ceiling. Oftentimes, the posts and lattice of the pergola support climbing plants.

Sometimes pergolas are confused with arbors. Though similar to pergolas, arbors are typically smaller and simpler in structure, and they may contain a bench seat. They frequently bear curved arches at the top, and they are often freestanding or attached to a fence. Pergolas, on the other hand, are larger, open in structure, typically flat, and often attached to homes or buildings. Since some people use the terms arbor and pergola interchangeably, it is important that you carefully review these types of products before purchasing.

If you select a product that combines beauty and durability with function and affordability, you’re sure to enjoy the many benefits of a pergola, including all of the following:

Let’s start with the obvious: beauty. It have a unique beauty that surpasses that of most standard awnings. They have a very sculptural and architectural design, and they can help create visual interest in an otherwise basic backyard. Many different styles of pergolas are available, ranging from simple, modern designs to ornate, elaborate, and elegant structures. Plus, pergolas are well-loved by gardeners, because they provide a medium for displaying the beauty of plants. Speaking of which . . .

Not only are pergolas beautiful on their own, but they can also lend support to other lovely landscaping features like climbing flowers, vines, and ivy. Plant these flowers and vines in the right place, and they’ll weave their way up the pergola’s supports and through the roof-like beams. Consider plants like wisteria, clematis, or even grape vines! You can also hang planters from the beams. Imagine a vast pergola teeming with clambering vines and colorful flowers. In addition to adding vertical interest to your landscaping, this can provide a valuable visual link between your home and your garden.

Plus, climbing plants generally require very little help to wind their way up the posts of a pergola and clamber across the lattice. If you tie them onto vertical wires attached to the posts, they will typically climb readily up the structure on their own. Research your options a bit beforehand to ensure you can give your chosen plant the support it needs. Roses and wisteria, for example, do require more assistance with climbing than other plants.

3. Pergolas define spaces.

A pergola can help define your outdoor space. Plus, because pergolas are open and airy, you can accomplish this without making the space feel smaller or more confined. Typically the ground under the pergola is topped with some sort of flooring, whether that’s brick flooring, concrete pavers, or even a deck. When you combine the flooring with the pergola’s pillars and beams, you can further define your outdoor living space.

Although they look somewhat unfinished to the untrained eye, pergolas do provide shade. The size of the beams and their spacing will determine exactly how much shade is provided, though a pergola on its own can never create a fully-shaded space. There are pros and cons to this. Although you aren’t receiving full shade, for example, you are able to see the sky and view the stars at night. If you would like the space to be fully shaded, just add a fabric cover to the beams. You can also add shade to your pergola by installing a climbing plant with thick, lush leaves and blossoms.

If you want to amp up your outdoor space without spending a lot of money, a pergola might be the perfect solution. Pergolas are inexpensive and easy to build, but they have a big impact on your yard, especially if you add climbing flowers or other plants. Although some options cost more than others, you can undoubtedly find an economical, beautiful, and durable pergola that fits your budget.

Let’s focus on vinyl pergolas for a moment. If you choose a vinyl product, you won’t have to worry about maintenance or deterioration. Vinyl pergolas don’t chip, peel, splinter, warp, rot, fade, or become discolored. Unlike wood pergolas, they aren’t susceptible to termites and other wood-boring insects, and they don’t require annual staining or frequent maintenance. Plus, they aren’t treated with harmful chemicals, making them safe for your family and the environment.