A pergola creates an outdoor room without walls, the perfect addition for the back yard. The feature—constructed of pillars, beams, and cross-beams—can provide a cozy oasis or a place to host your outdoor party. Before you start building your pergola (or having a professional builder do it for you), consider the pergola particulars, so you know how to pick yours perfectly.
How will you use it?
Will your pergola be a garden feature, something to add vertical interest with trailing vines along the beams and pillars? Are you thinking about this space as a peaceful oasis where you can escape with a good book, a cup of coffee, or just your thoughts? Or will your pergola be entertainment central, with an outdoor kitchen, furniture, and lighting? Determine how you need your backyard pergola to “perform”. This will help you determine the size and other features.
What style do you like?
Pergola design ranges from rustic to traditional to contemporary. Decide on the style that suits you. An arched pergola is ideal for a garden feature, where the flowers and vines grow along the curves in a naturally-looking way. Choosing straight lines gives a clean style that can be adapted to your taste by choosing the wood type and stain you like, or opting for maintenance-free vinyl in white or black.
How much shelter do you want?
A pergola is an open space, but if you’re leaning toward more shade or shelter, you have options. Install roof cladding for the most protection from the elements, or acrylic panels to keep out the rain. A pergola canopy or shade cloth adds color and the soft draping of fabric. You can also construct your pergola with the beams placed more closely together, which can provide a surprising amount of shade.
Do you need lighting?
Picture your pergola lit up at night, a place to enjoy stargazing or extend your entertainment into the evening hours. Solar lighting will offer soft illumination, or you can hire an electrician to wire your pergola for lighting and other electrical uses.
How big should your pergola be?
Size is relative. A pergola should be sized to scale with other outdoor structures. If you’re placing it near your pool, make sure that the pergola isn’t dwarfed by the size of the pool, and vice versa. Consider future uses for your pergola. If you plan to eventually add an outdoor kitchen, build a pergola that will grow with your vision.