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Here a custom pergola is used to define and shelter a seating area next to an outdoor fireplace. AMS Landscape Design Studios in Newport Beach, CA.

A pergola is a backyard shade structure with an open-lattice roof supported by columns or posts. Pergolas are not designed to completely block the sun, but to provide relief from direct sunlight, while allowing air to circulate freely. Most pergolas are free-standing, but a pergola can be attached to your home if you wish.

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What is the best spot in my backyard for a pergola?

A pergola can be placed nearly anywhere in your backyard, but common locations include over an outdoor dining area, along the side of a pool, next to an outdoor fireplace, or over a hot tub. A pergola can also be constructed over a pathway to provide a dramatic entrance into your yard or garden.

What materials are used for building a pergola?

Traditional pergolas are constructed out of wood. Popular outdoor wood types include pressure-treated pine, cedar, redwood and teak. A wooden pergola will need to be stained and sealed and will require frequent maintenance. In recent years, many homeowners have switched to aluminum or vinyl pergolas because they are easier to maintain and weather better than wood. Products such as alumawood mimic the appearance, texture and color of real wood, while offering a virtually maintenance-free pergola that is not susceptible to insect damage or rot.

Should I use a pergola kit or have one custom built?

There are two ways to construct a pergola. The first option is to assemble your pergola from a pre-fabricated kit. A number of manufacturers offer wooden, aluminum and vinyl pergola kits in various sizes and styles. Walpole Woodworkers offers standard and custom pergola kits made of wood or vinyl.

The second option is to have your pergola custom built by an experienced contractor. This will allow you completely design flexibility when it comes to the size, shape, material, color, and columns. Additionally, with a custom pergola you can control how much light filters through. Find a Pro in your area to design and install your pergola.

A ramada, a pergola with a closed roof, is great for providing protection from the rain. Angelo's Lawn-Scape of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, LA.

How much will my pergola cost?

The price of your pergola will depend on the size, material and design complexity. You could be looking at anywhere from $500 dollars to more than $5,000. Because more labor is involved in a custom design, going this route will cost more than ordering a kit.

What if I want to build a pergola myself? Where can I get plans?

Building a pergola is not an easy task. However, if you have woodworking skills, the necessary tools and the determination you may be able to tackle this project. Make sure you have a well thought out plan before beginning construction. Pergola plans can be purchased online through

How can a pergola be customized?

A pergola can do so much more than simply provide shade. In fact, a pergola can define an outdoor space, create a destination for friends and family, and provide a garden focal point. One idea for turning an average pergola into a stunning outdoor feature is to grow climbing plants. Depending on the plant and the location of your pergola, climbing plants can either be grown directly in the ground or in containers. Another idea is to build benches and planters into the pergola. Additionally, If you plan to enjoy your yard at night adding rope lighting to your pergola creates a beautiful effect. Finally, if you wish to make your pergola into a private sanctuary you can add garden lattice to one or more sides, or drape outdoor fabric near each post.

The columns or posts of a pergola can add a decorative touch. When selecting posts or columns try to match the architecture of your home. Wooden posts can be embellished with brick or stone pedestals. Pergola columns can help add to the overall style of your yard. Precast concrete columns are often used to create a Mediterranean look.


Since a pergola has an open roof it will not provide protection from the rain, if this is a must, you should consider a ramada instead. Essentially, a ramada is a pergola with a solid roof that is shingled to match the roof of your home. Ramadas are great for placing over an outdoor kitchen because they protect the appliances from getting damaged by rainwater.

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