How to Plan a Pergola

Get all the info you'll need on how to plan a pergola, then begin designing an attractive focal point for your outdoor living space.

Cedar Pergola

Cedar Pergola

New cedar pergola and custom fireplace as featured on DIY's original series, Yard Crashers.

From: Yard Crashers

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're looking to accent your outdoor space with a natural, attractive focal point, you may want to explore how to plan a pergola.

A pergola won't provide shelter from the wind, rain or sun—but that's sort of the point. This open-roofed structure creates a great focal point or seating area in any outdoor space, and when it's accented with climbing vines or hanging plants, it can create an even more visually appealing connection to the outdoors.

21 Picture-Perfect Pergolas

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Wisteria-Covered Pergola

This pergola was crafted with a strong framework to support the weight of this vigorous wisteria plant.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fragrant Climbing Vine Covers Wooden Pergola

Wide timbers were used to build this pergola that hangs over a large terraced area. It hangs full of fragrant jasmine vine, creating an outdoor room to enjoy.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Modern Pergola

This modern pergola with metal beams creates dramatic shadows and would enhance a yard with a contemporary theme.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pergola Pathway

A pergola offers a chance to decorate a pathway with lovely climbing plants.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Backyard Shade

HGTVGardens community member Mike shared this photo of a pergola he built. Notice the trellis to the left of the pergola in this backyard that also includes a custom-built bar.

Primitive Pergola Effective in Woody Corner

A wooded corner of this deck is shaded with trees and a rustic pergola made of simple timbers stained gray that complements the rustic setting.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Traditional Pergola Adds Timeless Appeal

Pergolas and garden structures are a simple and fast way of adding shade and traditional beauty to a backyard or patio.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Living Pergola Shades Outdoor Space

This living pergola shades the garden for reading on a bench or for enjoying the natural beauty of the setting.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Under Cover

This woven natural roof protects a dining area from the sun or elements, while allowing for air circulation and without making the space underneath too dark.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Simple Metal Canopy Ideal for Training Fruit Trees

A pergola made of simple metal hoops is just enough framework to train fruit trees as part of a garden design.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Roses Contrast with Blue Pergola

A red climbing rose complements the pale blue wooden pergola that shades the terrace in this garden design.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bold Leaved Climber Scales Larger Pergola

The larger the pergola frame, the larger the climbing vine that can be grown on it, keeping the scale of the garden in check.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pergola Offers Division in Outdoor Space

Crisscrossed overhead beams and closely spaced piers combine to help form a secluded and shaded seating area over an outdoor dining area. A brick wall and plants in raised beds create a division from the rest of the garden.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Modern Pergola Provides Support for Plants

This contemporary pergola provides support for climbing plants while still allowing light to filter through onto decking below.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bougainvillea-Covered Pergola

Bougainvillea makes a dramatic statement when it is in full bloom and covering a pergola or archway.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Rustic Pergola in an English Garden

This pergola covered with climbing roses and honeysuckle adds a rustic charm to this English garden.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pergolas Used to Support Plants and Provide Shade

A garden walkway is sheltered with a vine-covered pergola to become the focal point in this garden design.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Kitchen in the Sky

This clever layout by designer Adam Miller includes a cedar pergola and woodwork, black granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and stunning skyline views.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Adam Miller

Narrow Brick Pergola Adds Depth to Small Garden

Pergolas with brick posts, or piers, are ideal for large gardens, where they can support substantial beams, rafters and heavy climbers. They link visually with brick walled houses, and offer greater permanence than less substantial ones.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pergola Adds Interest to Woodland Path

This pergola casts relaxing shade across a brick path.

©2000, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Relaxing Spot in Debi's Garden

HGTVGardens community member Debi shared this photo of her garden pergola, built by her husband.

Your first choice when planning a pergola is where it's going to be located. Often, pergolas serve as covers for walkways, or entrances to seating or gathering areas. So consider these uses when deciding where you're pergola will be located.

Next up, you'll need to decide if your pergola will be a DIY project, if you'll hire a professional to build it, or if you'll buy a prefabricated model from a home improvement or garden supply store. Each options has advantages and disadvantages related to cost, time and customizability. An important factor here is whether you want your pergola to match the overall style of your outdoor space and home—if so, a prefab model may be harder to find in a perfect match, and DIY or professional construction may be the answer.

However you choose to design and build your pergola, it's sure to be a visually appealing, fun and functional focal point for your backyard or outdoor living space for years to come.

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