22 Pretty Pergola Ideas to Update Your Outdoor Space

A pergola can transform your outdoor space into a living area with shade, privacy and comfort for relaxation and entertaining

wooden Pergola
Photo: Blaine Moats

Offering shade and structure, a pergola is a great way to add beauty and function to your yard. Place one over a deck, patio, or corner of your backyard to create an inviting outdoor room instantly. Explore these pergola ideas to help you find the best design for your backyard.

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Pergola Ideas for Decks

beige patio with rustic dinner table and modern black chairs
Edmund Barr

A pergola can transform a basic wooden deck into a stunning outdoor space. Dress up the structure's supports and slats with climbing vines to offer additional shade and add a natural element to the design. Hang outdoor string lights from the pergola to make al fresco dinners even more enjoyable.

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Pergola Attached to House

brick, patio, pergola
Ed Gohlich

A pergola attached to the house creates a convenient shaded oasis for patio areas just outside the back door. This pergola idea extends the roof outward to stretch the shade under the eaves. Integrate the structure into your home's exterior by using similar materials and colors found elsewhere.

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Pergola Decorating Ideas

home exterior patio area wooden dining table
Eric Roth

Accessorize your pergola to make it even more inviting. Line the pergola's perimeter with containers planted with bright blooms. For extra interest, choose flowering vines such as morning glory that will scramble up and around the pergola. Hang a pendant light above your dining or seating area so you can continue enjoying the space after dark.

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Trellis and Pergola Ideas

Rooftop Garden Green Black Outdoor Furniture
Werner Straube Photography

Combine a pergola with trellis screens to transform your deck into a private retreat. A pergola provides shade overhead to make seating areas more comfortable, while a trellis can block views and sounds from the neighbors. Choose trellis and pergola designs with narrow openings and train vines through them to further increase privacy and shade.

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Pergola Landscape Ideas

Arbor over wicker chairs
Emily Followill

If you have a spot in mind for your pergola, consider existing landscape elements before you start building. Luckily, pergola designs are flexible and can be tweaked to fit your space and needs best. In this yard, a tree supplies ample shade above a brick patio, so the pergola's roof was built around it. A solid back wall with a small oval window offers privacy.

06 of 22

Decorative Pergola Designs

Two story beach house with grey shingle siding
Joseph Keller

Some pergola ideas are both decorative and functional. This seaside home, which mixes Cape Cod and Shaker styles, offers a pretty lesson in how to use a pergola to accent a home. Textural materials on the exterior repeat in the pergola design, and the structure provides a welcoming, softening transition between home and deck areas.

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Create Zones with a Deck Pergola

wood patio with pergola
Ed Gohlich

A pergola can stand independently or work well with another outdoor structure, such as a patio or deck. Its placement can help delineate various zones, such as a seating area. For example, this pergola design helps distinguish a lounge area and incorporates a built-in bench shaded by climbing vines overhead.

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Outdoor Pergola Designs

patio with pergola and fireplace
Ed Gohlich

Pergolas add additional structure and scale amid other outdoor living amenities. Here, the massive beams on this pergola fit in with the solid design of the stucco fireplace. A casual bench serves as a defining edge for the pergola and an extra seating spot.

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Pergola Ideas for Privacy

Marty Baldwin

Although many pergolas have four open sides, adding privacy screens can increase seclusion on one or multiple sides. Three trellises line one side of this pergola, creating a more intimate setting. Open detailing on the screens maintains the pergola's connection and openness to the landscape.

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Use a Pergola as a Transition

Outdoor patio covered in arbor
Edmund Barr

Pergolas are a good way to ease the transition from house to other hardscape amenities. Here, the pool and outdoor kitchen received a shading structure that ties in with the home's architecture. Space the pergola's roof boards as needed to shield people against the sun; this one relies on close spacing to offer more shade.

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Build a Pergola Accent

pergola on deck with trellis and wood patio furniture
Kritsada Panichgul

Space constraints can limit the pergola ideas you can include in an exterior space. But even a smaller pergola design adds an attractive accent to a deck or patio, providing an interesting background to an otherwise plain exterior facade. Here, a trellis offers a pretty and secluded backdrop for the seating space.

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Easy Pergola Design Ideas

pergola with curtains
Bob Stefko

Fabric can be a functional accessory in pergola designs, especially to shield the space from sunlight or unwanted views. Consider hanging curtains between the pergola's posts that can be pulled across the openings if needed. To prevent color-fading or weather damage, use fabric designed for outdoor use.

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Add a Pergola with a Roof

covered deck
Emily Followill 

While most pergolas ideas include a partial opening to the sky, they can also be integrated into the house's roof structure. Here, shingles cover the top of the pergola, offering complete shade beneath the narrow porch structure. In addition, colors used on the pergola's supports pick up on details in the home's windows.

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Combine a Pergola and Arbor

white Pergola
Tria Giovan 

This charming structure mixes trellis, arbor, and pergola ideas into one. The resulting construction forms a lovely entrance to this cottage garden's side space. Narrow seating nooks offer restful spots, while the pergola's overhead spacing offers room enough for a flowering vine.

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Try a Wood Pergola

wooden Pergola
Blaine Moats

When tucked among other landscaping, a pergola can become both a destination and a focal point in a garden. Here, a wooden pergola with a peaked roof and arch details shades a charming garden bench. A few colorful planted containers help to soften and disguise the structure's base.

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Pergola Material Ideas

pergola with fireplace
Rob Cardillo

Materials in different hues can add visual impact to pergola designs. Here, the white-painted vertical columns establish a bright and light boundary for a seating area. Stained wood slats across the pergola's roof offer a more naturalistic complement to the landscape.

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Unique Pergola Ideas

Bob Stefko

Although space and budget might be constraints, pergola designs are generally very flexible. You can customize the structure with various materials, finishes, shapes, and other choices. Here, two layers of the pergola's ceiling create a more dynamic top, while columns lend formality that's in tune with the detailing on the rails of the patio space.

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Contemporary Pergola

backyard pergola
Bob Stefko

The outlines of this modern pergola offer structure and a boundary between the paved exterior space and the rest of the landscape. Using a pergola in this way offers a simple way to break up large backyards. Additional elements, such as the fire pit and a variety of colorful patio furniture, help guests feel at home.

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Pergola Roof Structures

shaded patio
Luca Trovato 

There's no set width for the ceiling elements in pergola designs. In fact, landscaping can often help determine final detailing. Here, full-grown shade trees offer shelter from the sun, so the pergola roof beams are spaced further apart.

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Deck with Pergola

raised pergola
Mary Carolyn Pindar

A pergola can offer shade to a large gathering space, even if it's not next to a house. Here, gently arched beams topped with 2x2s form the roof over this freestanding 8x8-foot deck. Lattice across the side railings offers a partial enclosure and increases the sense of intimacy.

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Pergola Pathway

wood garden pergola with winding brick path
Ed Gohlich

Although pergolas are often stopping points in a landscape, they can also be used in transition areas. Here, a tall structure offers a waypoint on a path between the front yard and the backyard. Vines that ramble up the pergola repeat in the trellis accents against the home's exterior wall.

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Small Corner Pergola

small pergola over couch
Mike Jensen

A pergola needn't be large or ornate to function as an outdoor design element. This small pergola design adds a decorative element to a corner of the deck. Outdoor lights mounted near the top of the pergola illuminate hanging baskets, making the area even more attractive as the sun goes down.

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