What is a Pergola

Guide to Pergolas

One of the newest trends in outdoor living and yard landscaping is one that has popular in the west and southwest United States for years – the Pergola.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor shelter featuring a rugged simplicity with open rafters, sometimes covered by a roof of polycarbonate to add weather proofing.

There are support posts at all four corners, with more as needed. The pergola can be free standing in the landscape, or can be attached on one side to the exterior wall of the home.

Pergola Trivia

Pergolas were used by ancient Egyptians to give shade to their garden areas. Sometimes pergolas were placed on top of the second story of the Egyptian home. Pergolas were used as early as the 1st century AD in Pompeii, Italy, and were depicted in murals from that culture. There were also popular in the Italian Renaissance, and also have been used as pathway coverings in some of the great gardens of England.

United States architect Gustav Stickley popularized the use of pergolas as arbors and outdoor porches in Craftsman architecture.

Pergolas can be built in a variety of styles including the more traditional style with open roof rafters. It may also be built in a gabled fashion or with a pitched roof sloping downward from the attached exterior home wall. Another style is arched, and they can be used to cover a walkway or promenade.

Building Materials

The two most common materials used for pergolas are vinyl and cedar. Although cedar resists weather, rot and insects, the vinyl is completely immune to these worries. The vinyl typically only comes in white or ivory, but the cedar can be stained to complement the landscape or home. It can also remain natural, but staining does prolong the lifespan of the cedar. Vinyl doesn’t need such maintenance, and is much longer lasting.

The pergola is a wonderful way to create an outdoor room, add value to your home and give yourself some room for outside entertaining. They are more popular than gazebos, pavilions, awnings and columns. The pergola can also be a great support structure for climbing plants, which can be used to create a shaded walkway. Plants you could use include Black-eyed Susan, Wisteria, Grapevine, Honeysuckle, Clematis, Climbing roses and Trumpet vines. Depending on your growing zone, a variety of these plants could be used to create an interesting and colorful focal point for your garden.
Posted on May 04, 2014


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