Landscaping with a Pergola

Add a pergola to your landscape for structure and shelter.

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  • 1 of 11

    Pretty As a Picture

    A subtle shift in height offers visual variety to a pergola.

    • With a site close to the house, wiring for electricity may be easier; here, a wire running from the house provides power to lights hung at strategic locations.
    • If most of the area underneath a pergola is paved, containers can offer a good growing spot for plants
    • Varying roof heights in a pergola can define outdoor spaces. Here, a lower section indicates a transition to more open space in a yard.
    • If a pergola is intended for climbing vines, smaller openings or structural elements should be included in order to allow the plants room to ramble.
    • Pergolas can also be integrated with other hardscape elements; two of this structure's corners provide edge pieces for kitchen areas.
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    A Pergola with Personality

    An imposing pergola soars over its whimsically designed space.

    • Asymmetry can offer an interesting style counterpoint to a pergola; here, one side is open while another is bordered by a stretch of lattice fence.
    • Part sculpture, part light fixture, a massive overhead structure offers support for illumination and blooms.
    • Flowerbeds soften the geometric edges of the paved area under the pergola.
    • The back of the house provides a wall for the pergola and a spot for a bit of impromptu art, too.
    • Elevating a pergola and its paved surface up even just a bit gives the structure a distinct presence in the landscape.
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    Block Party

    An inventive use of an off-the-shelf material embellishes a pergola.

    • Most pergolas are made from wood, but unusual materials are a welcome design addition. Here, a random pattern of glass block adds visual variety.
    • Open squares in the wall provide a way for air to circulate under and through the pergola.
    • Small paving stones create a patio as well as elevate the wood structure off the ground.
    • Multiple entry points into the pergola direct circulation around and through the structure.
    • Beams and support pieces form a trellis that offers a bit of shade on sunny days.
  • 4 of 11

    A Natural Extension

    A shed and a pergola go hand in hand.

    • Pergolas can be stand-alone or attached structures; this small-scale version extends off a charming wood garden shed.
    • Even compact pergolas can offer seating and open-air shelter; this concrete pad underfoot is perfect for a small table and chairs.
    • A pergola also offers visual relief to a building's facade; this one breaks up the front of the shed.
    • A pergola's design can be fairly simple -- here, the pergola is constructed from two 4x4s and eight 2x4s with decorative notches cut out of the ends.
    • If you don't plan on growing plants on the pergola, you will find it easier to refinish the structure later.
  • 5 of 11

    Rest Easy

    A pergola provides a place to catch some shut-eye.

    • Most pergolas are freestanding and usually separated from other structures. This one straddles a fence for a more nonchalant addition to a yard.
    • While not a part of the pergola, the fence functions as a back wall. Its curving top adds to the structure's carefree vibe.
    • Lush wisteria shields the pergola from above.
    • Many pergolas provide cover for a table or chairs. This one takes relaxation to a new level with a bed for unwinding.
    • Big hydrangea blooms soften the deck space under the pergola.
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    Casual Curves

    An undulating roof offers visual variety for a pergola.

    • Short intervals between roof materials equal more shade for the space underneath the pergola.
    • A gentle roof curve provides a departure from the typical horizontal cover of most pergolas.
    • Vines can be trained up columns, but tall, narrow evergreens offer a way to integrate greenery with the vertical elements.
    • To create quiet, secluded space, a border of plants on three sides separates the structure from the rest of the yard.
    • A simple running bond pattern of pavers provides a roomy seating space.
  • 7 of 11

    A Roof of Roses

    A riotous collection of climbing roses adorns this pretty pergola.

    • If plants aren't intended for a pergola, painted wood poses less of a challenge. But if climbers will grow on and over the structure, consider a material such as composite wood that doesn't require repainting.
    • Prevent the base of the pergola from rotting, by placing beams and posts into concrete footers.
    • A variety of vertical and horizontal crosspieces dresses up the structure's sides.
    • Several entrance paths into the structure enable it to serve as a gateway to separate parts of the garden.
    • Lush growers such as this climbing rose need a sturdy support system: Make sure construction of the pergola can bear the plants' weight.
  • 8 of 11

    Pass-Through Pergola

    Functioning more as walkway than spot for repose, a pergola adds drama to a yard.

    • If a pergola backs up to a neighboring yard, enclose one side with trellis or another semi-transparent wall.
    • A pergola here bridges the space between the house and fireplace.
    • Centered on the trellised wall, a flowering window box adds a pop of color to the structure.
    • Pergolas work well on their own, but they also can add height to an outdoor space.
    • In addition to shielding views, the trellised section of the pergola provides a good spot for climbing vines.
  • 9 of 11

    Skyward View

    A pergola's roof seems to take flight atop grand supports.

    • Contrasting construction and viewpoints from the four sides of this pergola offer a multitude of ways of experiencing the structure.
    • The pergola's back wall provides design inspiration for trellising.
    • Oversize beams balance the soaring roof.
    • A raised bed to one side supplies spur-of-the-moment seating.
    • No vines on the pergola's roof are needed, thanks to a large shade tree nearby.
  • 10 of 11

    Traditional Grace

    Elegant elements dress up the simple design of this pergola.

    • Stately columns add classic style to this pergola.
    • If an overhead fixture is wired to electricity, have the on/off switch placed at a convenient access location.
    • Varying the paving material -- one pattern and size under the pergola, another variety in a nearby path -- helps the space from becoming a boring, uninterrupted block.
    • Trained up a nearby post, a wisteria covers the pergola in green and, during summertime, purple blooms.
    • A view toward a landscape isn't always necessary for a pergola. Here, one view casts an eye toward an impressive sloped wall with boulders, shrubs, and groundcover.
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