Add Interest to Your Yard with a Pergola
Create a landscape that looks good all year long with these creative ideas for incorporating a pergola into your yard.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Create a Cozy Seating Area
This pergola, made from vintage materials, envelops comfy furniture and an outdoor fireplace, making it the perfect place for fall gatherings.
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Add Pops of Color
Use a bright rug, seat cushions, and containers and hanging baskets filled with blooms to turn your pergola into a cheerful outdoor gathering space.
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Create a Nook
Here's a charming example of how you can add a peaceful getaway in your yard. The pergola is tucked in among evergreens and other trees. The house shields it from view from the back.
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Make a Shady Garden
Gardeners enjoy the shade created from a pergola on hot, sunny day -- and plants will, too. Use a pergola with a slatted roof and enjoy all of your favorite shade-loving plants.
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Make It Your Style
Don't be afraid to be creative and let your pergola reflect your personal style! This example has a retro feel that makes it a fun gathering place -- day or night.
Test Garden Tip: This pergola features interesting lines, but a lot of its visual pop comes from colorful accessories, such as outdoor-friendly fabrics and container gardens. Decor is a great way to personalize your pergola.
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Dress Up an Entrance
While we typically see pergolas standing alone in the yard, they also work well with structures. Here, a rounded pergola makes an entry something special. The structure's non-traditional shape works well with the house, and the style fits the informal plantings.
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Cover a Patio
Pergolas are perfect for creating little garden getaways. Here's a great example of how you can use a pergola to create an outdoor dining room. The cozy space features lighting, an easy-to-clean brick floor, and room for plenty of seating. It's all done over a simple brick-and-paver patio.
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Extend the Indoors
A pergola doesn't need to be big and grand to be effective; it just needs to be used the right way. This simple pergola, outside a set of French doors, makes the transition from indoors to out in a stylish way.
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Adding the sound of running water is a sure way to make your pergola more of a relaxing retreat. Here, a stream runs underneath the structure. It adds ambiance but doesn't take up any of the pergola's space.
Here's a hint: If creating a stream like this is a bigger project than you'd like to take on, consider adding a tabletop fountain.
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Get out of the Sun
Use your pergola to get out of the sun or rain. Pergolas traditionally have open tops made of beams or laths. But this beautiful pergola, with its curved tin roof provides extra coverage (and style). Cover your pergola with virtually anything you like, depending on your style.
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Give It Some Shape
A pergola can be any size and shape you want. Though we tend to see them in squares and rectangles, you can create lots of visual interest by making other configurations, such as an L shape.
Test Garden Tip: This pergola, from our very own Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden, features modular vertical panels, allowing privacy from different directions at different times.
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Dress It Up with Fabric
Give any pergola a makeover with a set of curtains. Here, a black-and-white color scheme blends well with the faded silvery-gray patina of the wood. The outdoor-friendly fabric is easy care, too.
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Green It Up
Garden lovers often love to pack plants in every bit of space they can. Put your pergola to use by hanging baskets from the top and growing vines up the posts.
Test Garden Tip: Make watering your baskets easy with a drip irrigation system. Simply run the tubing up one of your posts and along beams along the top. Drop emitters from the tubing into your baskets so the whole system is virtually invisible.
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Add a Fun Screen
Here's another take on a pergola top: bamboo. This bamboo screen creates airy shade beneath -- and gives the structure stylish good looks.
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Have fun and make a statement with your pergola. This example creates a bit of privacy with an irregular pattern of glass blocks forming a partial wall. The holes allow gentle breezes to freely flow through and create interesting frames to look out at your landscape.
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Create Rustic Style
We often see elaborate pergolas that look at home in big, formal gardens. But with the right building materials, you can create rustic style, too. These rough-hewn logs look right at home in the woods -- no fancy details necessary!
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Grow Beautiful Vines
Plant lovers appreciate the way pergolas show case vines. A sturdy pergola is the perfecta great place for a beautiful wisteria or jade vine -- or to grow grapes. The area under the vine's canopy makes a perfect shaded retreat, to boot.
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Give Yourself Privacy
We often think of a pergola as a square structure that provides privacy when you're underneath it. But change the shape and a long, narrow pergola can provide just as much privacy -- but more interest -- than a fence.
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Add Architectural Details
Give your yard a sense of elegance and sophistication with a pergola that incorporates interesting architectural details. A slightly curved roof, shield on the front of the pergola, and capitals on top of the columns make the structure a focal point in the yard instead of just an accent.
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Enhance an Existing Structure
Pergolas are commonly freestanding structures -- but you can attach a pergola onto the side of your house, shed, or garage, too. It's a great way to save space and add interest to an otherwise ordinary wall.
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Accent Your Home
Pergolas look great in the landscape, but they can also be a great accessory for your home. This smart pergola, for example, adds a fun architectural detail to the house.
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Add a Swing
Swings aren't just for porches or playgrounds! Add one to the beams of your pergola and give yourself a charming place to relax.
Here's a hint: Make sure your swing is attached to the sturdy, load-bearing beams instead of the rafters.
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Up on the Roof
Nearly any garden space can host a pergola -- even a rooftop garden. If you want a pergola such as this, it just takes a little more planning. Be sure your rooftop can support the weight of the pergola -- and be sure your pergola is sturdy enough that the wind won't knock it down (or give it extra support by attaching it to the roof