Pergolas: Five Backyard Transforming Uses
The pergola is the unsung hero of backyard landscaping. As many homeowners are discovering, a well-planned pergola can add usable living space to a boring backyard, garden or patio. Below are five ways you can use a pergola to transform your backyard.
1. Grow a vertical garden.
The basic structure of a pergola—a series of columns that support open cross-beams—lends itself to climbing plants and vines. By incorporating latticework, a trellis or wirework into your pergola, you can take full advantage of nature’s climbers to create a vine-covered garden structure.
Plants that work best with pergolas include trumpet vines, grapevines and several varieties of roses. Clematis is a favorite, as well, and can be grown up the sides and over the top of your structure for added shade.
Choose a cedar pergola for a rustic look that complements any natural setting, and hang planters for an even greater variety of botanical bliss.
2. Throw an outdoor party.
Adding a pergola to your patio or deck can make the difference between having a place to sit outside and having an outdoor living space. A pergola provides open cover, instantly adding character, shade, European flavor and a welcoming atmosphere, while still letting light shine through. It also gives you a place to hang party decorations, stereo speakers or other décor elements.
Use the space as an outdoor dining room, or string lanterns around the cross-beams for a post-dinner cocktail destination. For casual entertaining, outfit your pergola-covered patio with wicker furniture and a fire pit, then relax and enjoy the glow of your outdoor living room.
3. Build an enchanted walkway.
While most pergolas consist of four pillars for a room-like structure, you can also extend them to create a walkway through your backyard. Stretch one between your back door and garden or outbuilding to guide guests to the decorative part of your yard, or combine one with an archway arbor to frame your gate.
An extended pergola hung with wisteria and other climbing flowers can provide a relaxing place to stroll. Lay out a stone or gravel path beneath, and add landscaping along the walkway. Just make sure your pergola is tall enough to allow flowers to trail without touching the heads of people walking underneath.
4. Reclaim your shade.
Everyone likes nice weather, but there is such a thing as too much sun. Installing a pergola can be a smart way to cut down on the sun’s harsh rays and effectively reclaim your backyard. Depending on the direction your property faces, a pergola can protect you from the heat while still allowing enough sunlight through for your plants—not to mention preventing your patio or porch from becoming dark and dank.
The more climbing plants you grow across the top of your pergola, the more shade it will provide. You can even hang sheer curtains from the sides for extra shade and privacy. As an added benefit, the latticework can filter the evening’s fading sunlight into beautiful patterns for a relaxing end to the day.
For an added bonus, choose a vinyl pergola. Most vinyl pergolas are fabricated with Titanium Dioxide, a powerful sun protectant that’s commonly found in sunscreens for infants and people with sensitive skin.
5. Create a lovers’ rendezvous.
Pergolas are a popular location for marriage proposals, and it’s no wonder. This popular Renaissance-period garden feature adds a touch of old-world romance to any landscape. A free-standing pergola with a bench underneath offers the perfect place to watch a brilliant sunset or gaze at the stars. You can add roses, lilies or other favorite plants in hanging planters for extra charm, and if you decide to build a cedar pergola, you can carve your initials into a post for a personalized touch.
Pergolas are so versatile, it’s a wonder they aren’t more widely recognized as a desirable landscaping element. But don’t stop at these ideas—simply use them as starting points to come up with your own. With pergolas, the sky’s the limit.