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What Is a Pergola and Do You Need One?

Although the pyramids were built as tombs for pharaohs and their queens, when I look at them today I see giant shade structures set in the Sahara Desert. Just imagine sitting outside, getting hammered by the Egyptian sun. It seems natural that those early architects would be looking for a solution to that pain. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to question something that has been around so long.

Another shade structure from that time, the pergola, is said to have originated in ancient Egypt over 3,000 years ago. But what are pergolas, and why should you consider adding one to your deck or landscape?

Pergolas are outdoor garden or deck features made up of four columns that support an open roof of beams, built to provide visual interest and partial shade while providing a clear view of the surrounding landscape. They can be free standing or attached to a house.

Since pergolas have an open structure, the shade will vary based on the sun’s position. To enhance their shade and privacy, blinds can be installed. Also many people like the fact that you can hang things from your pergola structure: plants, fans, lighting, etc.

Aesthetically, pergolas serve to break up the back of the house, frame in an area, define space on an open deck, provide some vertical architectural interest, or just add some interest to a boring space.

Another common appeal for pergolas is that they provide a structure for vines to grow. Although Romans used pergolas to grow grapes, most of our clients prefer less invasive and messy vines like wisteria or climbing rose.

Arbors are often used interchangeably with pergolas, but an arbor is smaller and frames an entrance to an outdoor space. Structurally arbors are basically small pergolas.

Built from wood or low-maintenance PVC, today’s pergolas come in an endless array of styles to match any house. You can have a contemporary look with fabric, or more a traditional look with fancy rafters or about anything in between.

If you are considering adding one to your deck project, plan for it in your design phase. Your designer can incorporate the columns where they will make sense both structurally and for traffic flow.


Steve Stelkic

Founder

About the Author

I founded Woodland Deck in 2000 to create decks and outdoor spaces to be enjoyed for generations. Here in beautiful Northeast Ohio, we’re lucky to experience four dramatically different seasons throughout the year, and I want you to be able to enjoy each one of them from the comfort of your own backyard. As a deck-building company, we are always looking for ways to better our products, services, and ourselves. We are passionate about life outside and believe that enjoying God’s creation is a rich gift to us.


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