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How to Design Backyard Pergolas

A pergola is a versatile backyard structure that can be built in a variety of ways to fit your taste, budget and yard size. You can hire a contractor to install one for you or purchase a prefabricated kit to save money and time. Whichever option you choose, there are many details to consider. The two biggest expenses will be labor and materials, so you’ll want to carefully evaluate your design options before making any final decisions.

Pergolas are typically open on all sides, but you can add latticework or billowing outdoor curtains to one side or both for extra privacy and a cozier feel. You can also train clinging vines to climb over the roof for natural shade and added visual interest.

The beauty of a backyard Pergolas is its ability to define an outdoor space and encourage entertaining, dining, reading and relaxing outdoors. It also provides an opportunity to showcase your DIY skills or simply express your creative personality with a few personalized touches. Add cozy patio furniture, soft outdoor rugs, hanging flower pots and other decorative items to make the pergola feel like an extension of your home.

Pergolas can be constructed of wood or a wide variety of other materials, including galvanized metal. Metal pergolas tend to be a bit pricier than wooden models, but they last longer and can stand up to extreme weather conditions. Wood pergolas, on the other hand, are easy to customize and add warmth and charm to any garden or yard.

When choosing a material for your pergola, consider the sun’s position throughout the day and how you’ll use the space. For example, if you’re looking for extra shade in the afternoon, consider adding a retractable canopy that can be opened or closed as needed.

Another important consideration is the height of your pergola, which will determine how much headroom you have to walk under it. For most situations, 8 or 10-foot posts work well, especially if the structure will be installed on a deck or other existing concrete slab foundation. However, you’ll need taller posts if your pergola will be located in the ground and you want it to offer more overhead protection, such as over an outdoor kitchen grill or hot tub.

You can also choose to include a built-in trellis to provide climbing plants with a sturdy framework to grip on to and grow. Or you can choose to leave the top of the pergola bare and instead use it as an accent feature in your landscape by draping flowers or other decorative elements from the top.

If you’re a homeowner, a pergola is an affordable way to add style and function to any outdoor living space. With a little planning, you can create an impressive outdoor room that enhances your property value and invites neighbors to spend more time outdoors.