A pergola is a beautiful, lightweight outdoor structure designed to offer partial shade while blending into the natural beauty of a garden. It is traditionally made of four posts supporting an open lattice of crossbeams that create an elegant, pointed appearance along the top. These pointed crossbeams are what give the pergola its name, referring to a projecting eave.
Pergolas are a wonderful addition to any garden or backyard, providing focus without creating a feeling of being closed in. However, a simple pergola design is only the beginning. Every pergola deserves to be adorned with things that make it more beautiful. In fact, pergolas were designed to be an integrated part of a garden and are incredibly versatile in how they can be made to blend and to stand out based on the vision of your outdoor design.
There are so many different ways to make your pergola more beautiful and more enjoyable. Whether you are lounging beneath your pergola, strolling under the eaves, or admiring your pergola from a distance in the garden, the ideas we've come to share with you today are sure to bring your pergola design to life as a beautiful addition to your landscaping and backyard paradise.
Delightful Ways to Improve Your Pergola
1) Trellis Legs
One lovely way to upgrade a pergola is to turn it's four (or more) leg posts into trellises. A trellis is made of framed slender crossbeams that are both elegant alone and perfect for supporting nearby plant life. Building trellis legs onto your pergola is a matter of widening the leg and then replacing the center of the widened post design with trellis rails.
Some people enjoy a single layer of trellis while others turn their pergola legs into angled corners with two surfaces of trellis for a more visually dynamic design.
2) Flowering Vines
Whether or not you choose to switch the legs for trellises, pergolas are uniquely suited to supporting vine plants. Vines love to climb up posts and will especially enjoy weaving themselves around the crossbeams of the pergola's top. Vining plants woven through the top of your pergola also offer a uniquely beautiful source of additional shade. Flowering vines particularly love pergolas because they get to capitalize on the sunshine above the rest of the garden while you enjoy sitting in the green natural shade below.
If you want to make your pergola even more attractive, choose flowering vines. Morning glories open in the mornings, honeysuckle has a delicious center that children will love, and Mandevilla grow brilliant trumpet flowers that look amazing when they climb.
3) Sting of Lights
Many people have found that the overhead trellis of a pergola is perfect for winding strands of lights. Choose lights of all one color and create a breathtaking twilight beneath your pergola bright enough to socialize or even read by. Strand lights overhead can make a pergola a lovely place to set up outdoor seating for social gatherings or even an outdoor kitchen with ample enough light to cook by.
You can also creatively use multicolored or differing colored strands to create artistic patterns in the trellis of your pergola. The more creative you get, the more delighted your guests will be when they look up and realize that there is an illuminated work of art overhead, complimented by the stars.
4) Columned Pergola
Making a pergola more elegant is as simple as adding majestic traditional columns as the four posts. Columns supporting a pergola make it look as though it could be ancient and, at the same time, accent your garden wonderfully. Many have found that columned pergolas are an inspiration for decorating the pergola with non-permanent features and turning the space underneath into a lounging paradise. Live well as the ancient Romans did with cushions and divans, eating fresh fruit beneath the shade of a columned pergola.
5) Pergola Swingset
Well-built, a pergola is also surprisingly sturdy, which is sure to light the imagination of any children in your home. When built of the right strength and anchored deep in the earth, a pergola can serve as an unusually decorative and shady swingset for children. In fact, creative parents have been known to build a second pergola just for the kids after the first was designed more leisurely relaxation with outdoor couches and cool drinks
6) Pergola Porch Swings
Speaking of lounging beneath the pergola; porch swings make a wonderful addition to a sturdy pergola design because they bring to great ideas together at once. They are both cleverly suspended from the pergola's overhead trellis and are ideal for relaxing in the decorative shade. Porch swings allow homeowners to enjoy a relaxing sway in the light breeze and truly let your thoughts float away under the beauty of your pergola.
7) Lightweight Roof
For many, the trellis shade of a pergola could be improved on by adding a lightweight style roof. There have been several types of roof designed to suit a pergola and you have your full pick of them. Some people construct a folding-back cloth like a horizontal blind that can be pulled open and shut. Some install a fine metal roof for shade and maintenance. And some install a clear vinyl, turning their pergola trellis into an unusually attractive skylight.
8) Swooping Curves
Traditionally, pergolas are square or rectangular in design, but they don't have to be. Custom pergolas can swoop in curves, both in length and even vertically. The 'roof' trellis of a pergola can be established with curving cross-beams upon which the trellis is laid, including beams that create a vertical swoop as well as horizontal swoop. Some of the most attractive custom pergola designs ever photographed on the internet include these unique and elegant curves. Curves also make a pergola look excellent for a multi-level outdoor space or to shade a curved path.
9) Draping Curtains
Curtains are incredibly popular with pergolas as they provide both a horizontal and vertical way to add extra shade, privacy, and elegance to the design. Draping overhead curtains, naturally, create a kind of horizontal shade. While curtains hanging along the outer edges of a pergola can be tied up to create beautiful gauzy accents or let down to act as sunshades and protection from any lightly blowing breezes.
Some people get creative and install rolling blinds instead of curtains, and this might be your style. Those with very large pergolas can even use curtains to separate the pergola space into sub-rooms should this be of use to you or simply seen as elegant and enjoyable.
10) Slatted Walls
If you'd rather more permanent additional shading, you might be delighted to find that some pergolas are designed with additional vertical walls made of slats, like shutters. These slatted walls provide a greater amount of shade and more structure to the pergola without detracting from its beauty. You can also replace the slats with panels of vertical trellis to stand alone or to coax flowering vines to climb along the sides of your pergola for even more beauty and shade together.
11) Hanging Hammock
A sturdy pergola is also the perfect place to hang a hammock, hammock bed or couch, or an entire array of hammocks. You can base them on the posts or even hang them from sections of the overhead trellis. Some build small square pergolas and anchor a four-point hammock with one string tied to each outer corner for a beautiful hanging nook of relaxation. Some create an entire family-worth of individual hammocks so that everyone can nap in the breezy shade in their own time.
12) Platform or Deck
It's not necessary, but usually, pergolas are built on top of some kind of flooring. You may already have a deck or a patio you'd like to add a pergola to, but pergolas can also have a custom platform or deck built for them to make a free-standing pergola even more beautiful and enjoyable to lounge beneath. Warm deck boards are wonderful beneath the feet and any kind of flooring makes your pergola more welcoming to build outdoor living spaces beneath with couches, furniture, and even eating appliances.
5 Ways to Enjoy Your Pergola as an Outdoor Room
1) Pergola Shaded Outdoor Dining
Among the most popular ways to put your pergola to use is to pull your patio table and chairs beneath it. If your family enjoys eating outside on warm summer evenings or balmy alfresco breakfasts, your pergola is the perfect way to shade eyes from the sun as you enjoy the beautiful sights and smells of a meal in the back garden.
Pergolas frame a dining table wonderfully and, with curtains, you can strategically block both wind and angled sunlight so that everyone has a wonderful meal. Whether you are dining with family or hosting guests.
2) Pergola Outdoor Living Space
Of course, it's just as appealing to set up indoor-outdoor couches and cushioned chairs where everyone can relax and enjoy time spend lounging outside. The pergola is an ideal place for family and friends to gather, spend time together, and watch activities in the rest of the yard. Very often, a pergola built on the back patio or just off the pool becomes the go-to spot for parents to watch children play. It is where guests will most enjoy gathering and relax while they enjoy being surrounded by nature and sharing good company.
3) Pergola Outdoor Kitchen Design
If your family really likes to eat outdoors or host backyard events, a pergola is the perfect place to put your outdoor kitchen. Or building a pergola is the perfect way to shelter an outdoor kitchen you already have. Pergolas provide shade, beauty, and focus to your cooking space whether you have a full stove, fridge, and oven setup or just like to fire up the grill.
4) Shady Pergola Napping Zone
With couches, deck chairs, porch swings, and hammocks all possible under the shady trellis eaves of a pergola, it's no wonder that pergolas often become the center of back yard napping. There is something deeply relaxing and enjoyable about taking a nap in the quiet safety of your back garden surrounded by birdsong and smelling the fresh fragrances of flowers, trees, and fresh-cut grass. Relaxation is something that pergolas naturally inspire, especially with filmy curtains that add both beauty and protection from direct sun rays as you drift gently into nature-rich dreams.
5) Pergola Shaded Meditation Shrine
If meditation is a big part of your life, a pergola is also a wonderful place to build your shrine to inner peace. At a bamboo mat along the floor and decorate your pergola with the things that make meditation most meaningful to you. You can bring in a small kneeling-height table, emplaced dishes for candles, or even build a water feature near the pergola structure to enjoy the peaceful sound of trickling water as you meditate. Pergolas allow you to sit in a clean, relaxing, and shaded place while simultaneously being surrounded by and one with the nature of your back garden.
Custom Pergolas from Worthington Millworks
Worthington Millworks is dedicated to offering beautiful custom architectural features to homeowners with a vision of more than just the basic home structure. We can help you bring your ideal pergola to life through preexisting designs or by custom-molding a unique pergola based on your own vision of backyard beauty.
Whether you want columned posts, arching curves, or a pergola that perfectly fits your existing deck, we would be proud to meet any and all of your needs. Pergolas are a wonderful addition to any backyard and you deserve a pergola that brings your vision to life.
Worthington Millworks pergolas are custom designed from high-quality PVC which is more durable and long-lasting than traditional wood posts and beams. Both our standard pergola kits and custom-designed pergolas are backed with a 25-year warranty because we know that pergolas should be built to last.
Bring Your Pergola Vision to Life
If you're thinking about building a new pergola for your home or commercial property, Worthington Millworks would be honored to be your source for long-lasting, custom, and beautiful pergola structures. Contact us today to discuss your ideal pergola design and get a quote to make it happen.