Designing a Pergola: What You Need to Know

Are you considering adding a pergola to your backyard but aren’t quite sure where to start? Here are four key elements to consider as you begin designing the perfect shade structure for your outdoor living space.

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Are you considering adding a pergola to your backyard but aren’t quite sure where to start?  At Archadeck, we design outdoor living spaces every day.  Here are four key elements to consider as you begin designing the perfect shade structure for your outdoor living space.

Define Your Space

Pergolas are shade structures, usually comprised of four posts with cross rafters, leaving open spaces above to allow some sun to shine through.  One of the roles of a pergola is to define an outdoor living space, using the architecture and design to compliment your deck, patio, home, and yard.  Because there are no walls or a roof, a pergola creates an inviting, open and airy space for you to relax.  Consider the space you want to define.  Do you plan to dine, grill, or entertain?  The answer to these questions will help you determine the size of the pergola, the amount of shade you need, and other design details.

Custom design low maintenance deck with vinyl pergola - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Shade

One of the great aspects of pergolas is the ability to customize the structure to provide as much or as little shade as you prefer.  If you simply want to break up the intensity of the sun, you can space the rafters further apart, allowing plenty of sun over your deck or patio while diminishing some of that sweltering heat. Alternatively, you can space the rafters closer together and add lathing if you’re looking for significant shade for more protection and a cooler space.  For those who want to maximize the amount of shade, or to control when there is shade over their patio or deck space, retractable canopies and screens are an excellent option.

Custom vinyl pergola with mosquito curtains

Consider Vertical Gardening

Pergolas are great structures for plants and vines that need support.  Ivy,  passion-flower, and honeysuckle are great options that will help provide additional shade while adding color and fragrance to the outdoor space.  Fruit is also an option.  Grapevines are beautiful winding around pergolas.  If your yard is particularly small, vertical gardening is a great way to bring a little green, giving it a lusher look.

Design Considerations

Part of the joy in adding a pergola is designing the structure.  You can customize your pergola to match or contrast the exterior of your home.  Most pergolas are built with square wood posts; however, you can add your own flare to the structure.  Is the classic look more your style?  Consider rounded columns.  Are you more contemporary?  Consider a sleek look for you posts and end pieces for the rafters.  Do you prefer a craftsman look?  Stone bases might have the look you’re going for and are great for integrating a new pergola with an existing patio.

Pergola with Stone Base - Archadeck of Chicagoland

Do you have more design ideas?  We would love to hear them in the comment section below!

If you’re looking for a professional contractor to guide you through the design process and build your project, give us a call at (847) 749-2373 or sign up here for a free Design Consultation.

See you in the backyard!

Author: Archadeck of Chicagoland

As the owner of Archadeck of Chicagoland, I am dedicated to helping our Chicagoland homeowners create and enjoy the outdoor living space of their dreams. We believe the great outdoors is a place for families and friends to come together for fun and laughter.

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