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What is a Pergola?

Imagine walking through a garden in ancient Egypt. You probably spot flowers and greenery neatly decorated around pathways and sculptures. You might even come upon a structure that covers a walkway. It’s supported by pillars and topped with parallel beams. Some ivy could climb up the side and drape down to make you feel enclosed in a tunnel of green. That structure is a pergola. These garden features aren’t just a part of history – you can install one in your backyard. Here’s a look at what a pergola is and some design ideas:

Types of pergolas

While pergolas have been used for centuries, new designs are still being created today. Their structure leaves an open roof, which consists of lattice beams, but many pergola owners add shading mechanisms. If you want to break up your yard, shade a pathway, or create a shelter on your patio, a pergola is a stylish and easy way to do so. All pergolas have pillars to support their beams, but the design of the beams vary. Here are a few of the most common types of pergolas:

Traditional pergola roofs are flat. The spaces between each beam allow air and light to filter through.

Arched pergolas feature bent beams that produce a softly curving roof. As with traditional pergolas, arched beams are spaced.

The beams of a gabled pergola create a triangular shaped roof.

Attached to a house, a pitched pergola’s roof angles downward towards the other end of the pergola to create a single slope.

pergolasPergolas come in many forms and can provide much-needed shade.

Where to put a pergola

You can place a pergola anywhere in your yard where you want a source of shade.

In ancient Egypt, pergolas straddled walkways and were very long, providing coverage as one sauntered from one end of a garden to the next. If you have a path in your yard, consider placing a pergola over it.

“Pergolas can help define a space.”

Against your house
Pergolas are also commonly placed next to a home on a patio. This design extends your living space from your home out into your yard and is ideal for entertaining friends and family.

On a patio
The structure helps to define a space, making it perfect for seating areas, such as outdoor living rooms and kitchens.

Outdoor pergola design ideas

In its raw form, a pergola is consists of beams and pillars. However, you can dress yours up to create more shade or extend your garden. Here are some features to add to your outdoor structure:

Pergola canopy
Drape cloth through your pergola beams to add a shaded spot to your yard. Not only does fabric block the sun, but it also gives your pergola an airy, lounge feel. You can hang cloth like a curtain between the pillars as well to give yourself extra privacy. This look is perfect for outdoor seating areas, as it keeps you cool as you dine or relax.

Climbing plants
Because pergolas were once so prevalent in gardens, they became an obvious structure for climbing plants. The vines can grow up the pillars then drape over the beams to not only block shade, but also provide a garden-like enclosure. Plus, plants naturally keep spaces cool, so sitting under a pergola with greenery in summer will give you a break from the heat.

You have many options if you choose to plant climbing botanicals, including trumpet vine, climbing rose, grapevine, honeysuckle and wisteria. Each of these plants blooms, giving your pergola a colorful look.

Dine under twinkling lights by hanging strands over the beams of your pergola. This addition will help you create an inviting and stylish atmosphere for hosting outdoor dinner parties.

Pergolas are classic pieces of outdoor architecture that create shade and elegance in your yard. Hopefully these ideas will translate to a beautiful new design in your outdoor space.

What type of pergola suites your outdoor style?

Click here to browse our entire selection of Shade & Cooling accessories. Create an inviting outdoor space that your family will love.

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