A pergola is an outdoor architectural structure that is much akin to a gazebo or an arbor. It’s usually made of vertical pillars or posts supporting cross-beams. Are you considering sprucing up your outdoor living space? Then consider the various styles, designs, and features of a pergola.

Why A Pergola?

Pergolas can be open-air, open lattice, or have more of an enclosed top. They can be a few feet long or span your property. Plants and vines can even be used as part of the structure. It can sit independently or be an extension of a building. The structure can create a walkway, passage, sitting area.

Although certainly beautiful design elements, pergolas aren’t just decorative devices that sit to look pretty. Pergolas can also serve many practical functions and purposes, including:

  • Division of property areas
  • Protection for terraces
  • An outdoor entertainment and sitting area
  • A host for flamboyant climbing vines like grape vines
  • A semi-sheltered walkway from the home to other separated structures – garage, guesthouse, work studio, patio, or swimming pool.

Pergolas are popular options for people that want to define or protect an outdoor space without constraining or suffocating it. Another reason that pergolas are so popular is that the design potential is just limitless. There are countless styles and materials that can be used to build the perfect pergola for any space.


Let’s look at some options and ideas:

Basic Building Material Options

So long as the structure is strong, solid, and seated/rooted into the ground, there are a number of basic materials that can be used to construct a pergola, including:

  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Recycled plastic
  • Metal
  • Living materials

Wood provides a natural, rustic look. Cedar is a popular wood choice because of its natural rot resistance. Some people add stylized woods, such as customized logs or bamboo, for an even more rustic feel.

Vinyl and recycled plastics are two other popular options. Both of these options are low-maintenance. Some even look like wood, but don’t require the maintenance wood does and will never rot or decay with age like wood does.

Metal is yet another construction option that is low-maintenance. Metal designs generally have a more contemporary look, and, again, there isn’t the cost factor of pest infections and rotting.

Living materials can be an extremely inexpensive way to build a basic pergola, but it will take a little time to develop. One example of using living materials would be planting bamboo or some other sturdy, but flexible, shrubs or trees in rows along both sides of the space you’d like the pergola. As the living materials grow, you will train the branches to curve into one another so that they’ll eventually meet at the top to create a series of intertwined arches. The roots act as a natural seating for a stable, strong, and sturdy pergola.

Elaborate Building Materials

A pergola can be as simple or complex, formal or rustic, minimal or intricate, and heavy or lightweight as desired. For those that would like to add upon any of the above basic materials, you can certainly consider:

  • Creating paved, stamped, or textured pathways under the pergola.
  • Surround the sides of the pergola with a variety of plants, bushes, vines, or trees to add more privacy and pops of color.
  • Use cement bricks or blocks to frame the pergola; these can also be used to make the very solid, long-lasting pillars.
  • Posts, corbels, and beams for wood frames can include handcrafted designs and cutouts.

Your Pergola Awaits

The great thing about pergolas is that your imagination is the limit. Have fun designing and building your pergola, and you’re sure to enjoy using it upon completion. Remember to think about how much maintenance you’ll want to put into your pergola; your design tastes, budget, and how soon you’ll want your pergola completed; and how you’ll be using the pergola as you consider your many design and material options.

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