Pergolas, architectural garden adornments popular during the Italian Renaissance, can be a welcome respite from a midday summer sun. At its heart, the pergola is simple: Made of sturdy boards and crossbeams, it's touched up with lattice and sometimes vines. With the right materials and guidance, they're easy to build. Those that we've showcased here start with those fundamentals and add some creative flare. They may even inspire you to build your own pergola!
This gorgeous pergola from , has been built atop a floating backyard deck. The pergola was constructed using Simpson Strong-Tie brackets, that made the building process straightforward and simple. Not a galvanized steel bracket or deck screw in sight. Check out the pergola build instructions .
Robin Dube and her family live in southwestern Ontario, Canada, where the winters are cold and the summers are hot and humid. They wanted both shade and breeze, so their cedar pergola features louver panels that open for air or close for more privacy. And the coup de grâce: a hot tub shaded by a mini pergola. Rather than waiting for vines to grown, the Dubes covered the top of their pergola with a tan-colored shade cloth that cuts 65 percent of UV. "This was the finishing touch for us," Robin says.
As a home construction project, a pergola seemed less intimidating than a covered patio, so Tim Roberts built this 8 x 12–foot beauty in his Oklahoma backyard. He found that the construction was cheaper and didn't disrupt the house, guttering or sealing. He used 6 x 6–foot pieces of treated lumber, concrete, lag bolts and nuts, none of which requires maintenance. That bold color comes from an application of Cabot Timber Oil. And the hanging baskets and vines turn the pergola into a giant trellis.
This U-shaped fir pergola rambles elegantly around a Jacuzzi in Phoenix, Ore. Patricia Orsini and Wolfgang Platzer eschewed nails and turned only a few screws in its construction. Instead, they fastened it together with well-cut joints. The pergola has a 14-foot base stamped with concrete that imitates Italian terra cotta, a Mediterranean theme that complements the stucco house. There is a free-standing latticework wall to one side for privacy. The structure will improve with age: The fir is unsealed and unstained, meant to weather over time. And honeysuckle vines are hard to see now, but they're growing. Orsini believes the pergola creates warmth around the tub.
Margaret Limitone's vine-topped, 20 x 10–foot pergola shades the walk from her Westchester, N.Y., home to her garage. What used to be an open deck is now a peaceful sanctuary set back from a busy road, where Limitone enjoys breakfast with her family. Limitone wanted to keep the design simple, so she opted for a wide-beam base and top beams with ornamental cuts at their tips. The pressure-treated wood has required no maintenance over the past 30 years, other than sweeping up the leaves that fall from the nine trumpet vines woven throughout the beams.
With an outdoor kitchen, beer tap and wine fridge, only a space-enclosing pergola was missing in Denise St. Pierre's backyard in State College, Pa. St. Pierre decided to do the construction herself, using a kit she bought online. She put together her 20 x 20–foot pergola in one afternoon. "If you have enough patience and the right tools," St. Pierre says, "anyone can do it." Three years and a few hanging plants later, St. Pierre's pergola still looks great.
This 9 x 6–foot pergola is made of vinyl instead of lumber, which resists weathering and requires little maintenance. It has a brick floor and path leading to another patio in Jim and Joan Young's backyard in Sinking Springs, Pa. They hired a contractor to build their $7000 picnic spot as a landscaping ornament and a place for family gatherings. "Just something additional for the backyard," Joan Young says.